It’s groovy soca gold for the unstoppable sisters!

By Stephen Spark
Photographer Stephen Spark

United Kingdom | Sunday 21 August 2016: 8:08 BST

Their song lived up to its name – Sunshine and Nadiva’s Unstoppable swept away the competition at the ABC’s Groovy Soca competition on Friday 19 August. Deservedly so: it’s a song that’s guaranteed to lift your spirits and move your feet, and it’s put over with enough energy and infectious enthusiasm to light up Wembley Stadium, never mind the Tabernacle. The sisters had the crowd eating out of their hands.

It goes to show that ‘stage presentation’ (one of the judging criteria along with music, lyrical content etc) is more about the projection of personality than eye-catching gimmicks, which too often become distractions.

The point was proved by runner-up McKenzie Hart. The 15-year-old with the golden voice put on a thoroughly assured performance in combat fatigues with two dancers and a great song, Fight For It. What more do you need? Well, we definitely need more talented youngsters in calypso and soca like McKenzie, so let’s hope her example encourages others.

Last year’s winner, Santiago, didn’t provide gimmicks either; it was just the man and his hat for Trini I See. “I never fail to see the Trini man in me” he sang to a jazzy/funky track that wouldn’t have been out of place in a sophisticated cabaret setting. The polished, thoughtful and introspective song brought him third place.

Other contestants included Masterlink, with the jolly I Feel So Happy, Clivus (Jam She), Helena B placing fourth with Can You Handle It? and Carlene ‘Sweet Wrists’ Etienne channelling some J’Ouvert beats for Vibes.

From G-String’s rather old school calypsoca to party anthems like Music Man’s Hit Song, and outfits ranging from classic calypsonian headgear to Miss Desire’s red-hot ensemble, the show reflected a diversity of styles in music and presentation. The UK soca scene may be small and under-represented in mainstream channels, but 2016’s contests have proved it’s full of variety and talent. It helps that London is the global capital of music mixology and that Notting Hill Carnival creates the white heat of creative fusion from which artistes and DJs can forge new styles.

After the break, the Divettes warmed up the stage for the first of the night’s guest artistes, King Socrates, who brought us the thought-provoking Our Contributions and celebratory Mas in Notting Hill. Natia Daniel was next up with Line it Up and then it was the turn of Triniboi Joocie who gave us the irresistible Beautiful then revved up the energy levels with Last Wuk and Oi.

This season’s MC, Coco P, was unavoidably detained by the arrival of twins, so Martin Jay, resplendent in red hat, took over the duties with his usual aplomb.

The evening was everything one could have hoped for and more – particularly after Soca News’ numbers came up in the draw.

It’s going to be a good carnival this year…

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Soca News
November 2017

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