The International Soca Monarch competition is the T&T Grammys and therefore requires sacrifice and dedication, says soca singer Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon. Belfon, who has been a finalist in the competition 13 times, made this comment in response to news of the "exclusivity" clause added to the competition's rules for 2013.
A press release sent out on Thursday by Caribbean Prestige Foundation executive chairman William Munro said finalists would be required to perform exclusively at the Soca Monarch show on "Fantastic Friday" next year. The ban starts on Friday, February 8, and ends at 8 am on February 9, the release said.
The release also said: "Failure to comply with this mutually agreed upon amendment will result in a significant penalty that may impact your expected earnings." Belfon was one of many contestants who attended meetings over the past few months and she said that she had no objection to the change.
Promoter welcomes Carnival changes
"I have no problem with the change, because at the end of the day, this is something we are taking to the world. I am a culprit of performing the day before and having no voice for Soca Monarch, and being hoarse on final night is unacceptable," she said. Her sentiments were echoed by other artistes such as Nadia Batson, who said Soca Monarch was one of the "biggest and best stages for Carnival."
Batson has made it to the final for the past six years and told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview she'd performed in two places on a Fantastic Friday only once. "I wouldn't do that again, because I understand the importance of the stage. We need to take this so much more seriously, because this is one of the best stages to get your songs to the world and not just T&T."
Another soca artiste and competitor contacted for comment said Caribbean Prestige was entitled to have rules for its competition especially if the company perceived a conflict of interest. Munro said prize money for the competition has been increased by 50 per cent for the fifth to tenth places.
"That is three times more than they would make in any fete on that night," he said in a telephone interview. He added: "We don't want anybody to be advertised as singing somewhere else on Friday. Fantastic Friday is our Friday,"?he said.