JM | Mar 19, 2023

WATCH | Machel Montano talks about childhood in Jamaica

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
King of Soca Machel Montano at the Wi Fete press conference at The Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. (Photo: Quwayne Rose/ Qurious Media)

Known for consistently mashing up soca stage shows all over the world for decades, King of Soca Machel Montano is here in Jamaica for the upcoming carnival season.

In a sitdown interview with the 40-year-soca veteran, Montano shared with Our Today, the deep sentiments he feels coming back to Jamaica after spending the earlier parts of his childhood in Mona.

“Jamaica holds a special place in my heart because I tell everybody I went to school for the first time here when I was two. I went to Mona Basic, my parents were at Mona, and I lived in Mona Heights, so to come back as a soca artist and perform and be part of the growth of carnival here is a dream, always a pleasure and something close to my heart,” said Montano.

He mentioned that he feels proud about how much carnival in the country has developed since the days of Byron Lee, and the adoption of soca music by more Jamaicans.

Responding to a question about advice for young artistes who are poor stage performers, Montano said: “Well for me to give someone advice, they’d have to want the advice, the people who want to develop their skills in that aspect will seek it —what you put in is what you’re going to get— and I’m not so sure a lot of the young artistes today even want to become solid performers.”

“It is a criticism of them, but that also doesn’t say that is what is needed of them, this is their time and they are doing their best to build their brands, ” he continued.

Machel Montano on stage with Nigerian singer Ayra Starr at the Machel 40 ONE SHOW in Trinidad & Tobago (Photo: Instagram @Machel Montano)

Montano places great importance on young artistes understanding responsibility and their influence on people; a recent visit to the Bob Marley museum left him reflecting more on his children and legacy.

He said: “I don’t like that term role-model, but [as an artiste], they are looking at you, and when you’re leading people, where do you want to lead them? What do you want them to take away from you as your legacy or their experience of you?”

Scenes from Machel Montano perfromance at ImagineWeekend in Barbados. (Video: Instagram @machelmontano)

According to Montano, soca is not just the soul of calypso, it’s also the sound of the Caribbean and the story of carnival. It has its roots in Indian and African cultures due to the mixing of cultures in the Caribbean region and the celebration of carnival is something that has been passed down since ancient Africa.

“I think there’s always a lot to learn and it’s healthy for us to learn our history and our culture, I’d like to invite everyone to be a part of carnival, come out and see and observe especially if you haven’t done it before, see the joy, see the love, Wi Fete, Jamaica carnival weekend, Machel will be there, along side Bunji Garlin, Nailah Blackman, Fay-Ann Lyons, big reggae artistes and dancehall artistes will also be there.”

Check out the interview below:

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READ: Machel Montano brings the full band to Wi Fete for Carnival in Jamaica


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