by Dexter Mitchell
Although the awarding of road march winners pre-dates 1981, this piece will focus on the winners of what is considered the most popular and important carnival title, since carnival was moved to August in 1981.
During that period another extremely popular competition, with the advent of a national soca monarch competition, emerged, in 1994.
The first ‘August’ road march winner was Timpo who did the double in 1981, by also capturing the national calypso competition. The road march title went to St. John in 1982 with Snakey Boy and his catchy ‘Charmiane Darling’. African Teller, Flying Turkey, Inspector, Black Wizard, and Skylark complete the list of Road March winners during the 1980’s.
That era introduced Grenada to Elimus Gilbert, the Inspector, as he won consecutive road march titles in 1985 and 1986. In fact, Inspector had the distinction of having his 1986 winner – No Kicks for 86 – banned for airplay but still being popular enough to capture the road march title.
Ajamu won his only road march title in 1990 and Moss International’s evolutionary Jambalassie took the honors in 1991.
Thereafter, began a ten-year streak of double winners – meaning that all the winners between 1992 and 2001 won consecutive road march titles. The streak began with Flying Cloud (92, 93), then Inspector (94, 95) followed by Tangler (96,97). Sheldon Douglas won his double in 98 and 99, with the final double winner being Tallpree in 2000, 2001.
Japs , Super P and General PP won the next three road march titles, with Boogie B doing a different double, by winning the soca monarch and road march titles in 2005. Soca Banton in 2006 and Berbice in 2007 preceded the first road march title by a female- Miney in 2008. Mr. Killa in 2009 and Otis in 2010 achieved the soca monarch and road march double, with Lava Man winning his first national title, road march in 2011. Boyzie has been the latest road march winner (in 2012).
The efforts of Brian Pitt and Troy Garvey in 1992 and 1993 at the Sugar Mill Nite Club gave birth to what is now the national soca monarch competition.
The first national competition took place in 1994 with Black Wizard wining the inaugural soca monarch title. In fact only Black Wizard, Inspector and Ajamu have won the three major titles – Calypso, Road March and Soca Monarch.
Sheldon Douglas and Mr. Killa are tied for the most Soca Monarch titles with 3 and Luni Spark and Electrify joins Sheldon as the only soca monarch winner to successfully defend a soca monarch title.
Veterans such as Randy Isaac, Tallpree and Zingo joins the likes of Terror Kid, Otis, Lava Man and Boogie B, in the esteemed group of persons to shake-up the national stadium on carnival Friday night and walk away with the coveted and lucrative soca monarch title
Both the road march and soca titles continue to represent the popular music, performers and performances of any particular carnival season. Many of our recollections of a carnival season are based on the road march song of that year or the spectacular performances we witnessed at soca monarch.
2013 should be no different.