“I can’t find more words to express how happy I am as Prime Minister of this country to see what you guys have done for this country. I don’t think we will ever be the same again.”
These were the utterances of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell as he offered appreciation plaques to the six Soca artistes who represented Grenada at the International Soca Monarch in Trinidad on March 1.
Power Soca winner, Hollice “Mr. Killa” Mapp, together with third place winner in the competition, Hector “Mr. Legz Thomas, third place winner in the Groovy category, Jevaughn “Vaughn” John, along with Dingaan “Lil Natty” Henry and Nyelon “Thunda” Williams, and Mandella “Mandella Linx” McDonald were brought together at the Ministerial Complex Conference Room on Tuesday for the official recognition from Prime Minister Mitchell.
Before handing out the awards, Dr. Mitchell told the artistes that they were all winners and named Mandella Linx’s song “Thombstone” as one of his favourites for the season.
He said, “I do wanna make this very simple point …while some of you came out with awards, Killa and all of you guys who got third places, I consider you guys to be all winners, I want you all to be very clear that I didn’t see any losers at all. In fact, I had several of my friends in Trinidad who called me to say that they considered that even those who came second and third should have come higher and who did not place should have placed but I think they were very much aware, there might have been some serious war in Trinidad.
“…So, they (the judges) were attempting to ensure that there will be peace and stability, so you guys suffered because of the necessity to create that atmosphere of Caribbean spirit”, he jokingly told the artistes.
Dr. Mitchell singled out Mandella Linx for special mention with his Jab Jab song.
“I think the country recognises his performance, his presentation was certainly a winner and I want him to know that that was one of the songs that I, myself, became attached to. I like the lyrics. I can’t say at my age I understood many of the lyrics you guys were singing, myself…but you guys have done us all extremely proud. The country’s image outside there, internationally has been lifted”, he said.
According to Dr, Mitchell, he is confident that tremendous economic benefits would be derived from the achievements of the local soca artistes in Trinidad and was looking forward to a “bumper” Spicemas in August.
He said: “People may not understand this, but you guys success would have brought in a lot of economic benefits for the country. The name of the country is outside there even more now than ever before and therefore, we must see when we investing in culture and in sports, sometimes people don’t understand the implication of that investment, because we may put some few dollars in an activity but we end up getting millions because of the success of what we are investing in. I think our carnival will get a lift”.
The Prime Minister hinted that government and in particular the Ministries of Culture, Tourism, and Youth will be engaged in a combined effort to address sea and air transport to bring in visitors for the carnival activities.
Dr. Mitchell also assured local artistes that government is prepared to come to their assistance in obtaining visas for those who are having problems in entering certain countries to perform.
“We will work with you as a government – the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the backing of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will do what we have to do to ensure (this), so those of you who know you have those problems, know that I am speaking to all of you in that respect…”, he remarked.
The first artiste who was presented with a plaque of recognition was Mandella who quickly told the gathering: “It has been a tough time for each and every one of us as artistes and we fight the fight. We were on the battlefield, and we did it and all of us accomplished something great, not only for ourselves but for our country, our nation and for the rest of the world, so that we as Soca Artistes could be appreciated outside there”.
The duo of Lil Natty and Thunda from St. David received their awards from the Grenadian leader.
In response Thunda said: “I want to give thanks to the Prime Minister for having us, thank you for the honour. To the Carnival committee, the media, fans, friends…artistes…I think we had good unity over there – every time we met was love and support and I really appreciated that.”
“Thanks to the Prime Minister for having us here and thanks to Mr Killa for bringing the crown home – we’re not going to give it back”, Lil Natty chipped in.
After receiving the plaque, Vaughn said this is just the beginning for him in his quest to represent his country at the regional and international level.
“This award, this one is not just for me, this one is for the country, this is for my fans, this is for my people and this is just the beginning of something great. This will not be the first and the last, we have many more things to do as a group of artistes and also I will make it my duty to do much more for my country as an artiste,” he told the ceremony.
Mr Legz stated that determination and hard work cleared the way for his achievement in the ISM competition and the third spot.
He said: “When I got the results in Soca Monarch, I was actually backstage crying, because I know how far I have come. When they were calling my name on stage, I was backstage in tears. I was so happy, knowing what I have been through. You see this thing called determination, trust me, you just gotta keep pushing, don’t give up. There is nothing as ‘you can’t do it’, prove to them that you could do it and this is what I did at the Soca Monarch in Trinidad.”
The leader of the pack, Mr Killa stressed that the achievement of the local artistes in TNT should be a learning experience to all youth.
He said: “Life is beautiful, it is great, and it is what you make of it. I want every little boy, every little girl to take an example of this. Follow the journey and realise that we didn’t turn to drugs, we didn’t turn to violence, we didn’t turn to crime, we didn’t listen to when people say that you wouldn’t make it and stay down, we continued striving for better, striving for good and we remain positive in our mind, heart and soul and that has brought us success today”.
The Soca King called for unity among local artistes to ensure that Grenada’s music remains relevant on the international scene.
“Bringing the crown home from Trinidad doesn’t just mean that Mr Killa is the new International Soca Monarch of the world, but it means that Grenada holds the greatest crown of Soca Music”, he said.
According to Killa, soca is now way beyond just one or two islands in the Caribbean.
He said: “Our talent is some of the greatest on the planet, the whole world and it’s time for us to realise that and pay attention to the unity that we need because together we stand, divided we fall”.