Soca Icon Machel Montano, will receive the Luminary Award

The Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) will award its Luminary Award to Trinidadian musician and soca icon, Machel Montano on Friday, November 18 in Washington, DC.


Montano has been expanding the reach of soca, a genre that developed out of a fusion of calypso and Indian music and originated in Trinidad and Tobago. Since age seven, Montano has been performing before crowds earning rave reviews for his stage presence and rhythmic sound. At age nine, he formed the band, Pranasonic Express. That same year, Montano performed in Madison Square Garden in the Felt Forum as a supporting act for the Mighty Sparrow and some of the era’s top calypsonians. He released his debut album in 1985, entitled ‘Too Young to Soca.’ Throughout his career, Montano has been committed to bringing soca music to mainstream. In April 1986, the burgeoning superstar appeared on the popular television show, Star Search.

“Music is a language of the Caribbean and Machel Montano has been spreading the word about the power of music, and more importantly soca music as a demonstration of the power of Caribbean culture,” said Dr. Nelson, Founder and President of ICS. “He is receiving our Luminary Award for his tireless efforts to shine the global light on Caribbean culture and music.”

Over his career, Montano has continuously expanded the reach of soca music. In January 2010, Montano became the first soca artiste to attain a headliner slot at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. In May of that same year, he made history as the only two-time recipient of The Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year at Martin’s International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA). He was nominated twice for a Soul Train Award and won his first in November 2014 for his captivating performance with ‘Ministry of Road.’


Regionally and internationally, Montano is beloved as the ‘King of Soca,’ winning multiple Road March and Soca competitions in his home country of Trinidad and beyond. In 2008, he won Best Caribbean Artiste of the Year at the 1st annual BET J Virtual Awards. In 2012, Montano became a Triple Crown Winner, by winning the Groovy Soca Title and International Power Soca Monarch competitions. He also performed at the popular Coachella Festival in 2016. This year, Montano also made his film debut in the Bollywood style musical “Bazodee”.

Montano admits it very difficult to bring soca music to the mainstream and at the same time stay grounded at home, however, he believes he has created a sound that is palatable to all markets, and play on the radio in rotation with other popular songs and genres. It is his dream to see soca enjoyed in the international market. Meanwhile Montano continues electrifying audiences wherever he performs and spreading his light around the world.


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