King of Soca biography 40th year of music | Local Features
As the “ultimate insider”, Lady Montano reveals the creation of soca music’s leading ambassador in her first book, due out in June 2022.
The upcoming release of the aptly titled biography King of Soca is both the latest in a list of premieres for soca’s top horn Machel Montano on his 40th birthday in the music industry, and the crown jewel of the achievements of its author, businesswoman and kingmaker, Elizabeth “Lady” Montano.
King of Soca is the first publication from the author’s own EESM Publishers imprint for the first time. It covers the evolution of Machel – the man and the artist – over four decades. From her extraordinary perspective as the “ultimate initiate,” Lady details the characteristics and stories associated with the different eras of Machel’s art. She shares the ups and downs of her son’s journey against the backdrop of the ever-changing inner world of the soca legend that shapes his outward expression.
The book is based on Lady’s 2018 master’s thesis titled “The making of Monk Monte: Creativity and Commodification in Trinidad and Tobago Popular Culture”. At first, Lady was tempted to make it a PhD, but gave up the academic route when she realized her intention was to make it accessible to everyone.
An educator by training, Lady sees storytelling as an essential part of knowledge sharing, which she believes is essential for growth and development. King of Soca therefore embodies a complete dossier on the 40-year history of Machel, 47, who according to the former “momager”, is little known, let alone among the national youth.
Even with the solid foundation of her 2018 thesis, it took Lady two years to complete her work. Commenting on the process, she says, “I started writing the book itself in 2020, at the start of the pandemic when everything was shut down and I was at Toco. I thought I would finish it quickly because it was all in my head and I only had to adapt my master’s thesis. However, once it stopped being an academic project, the possibilities of what I could include were now suddenly endless.
The Montano matriarch’s undying desire to document her son’s story is evident in her compulsive collection of Machel memorabilia, which in 2015 was a full exhibit at the historic Maison Boissière in Port of Spain. She admits his relentless quest to preserve evidence of all aspects of his life since what she describes as “his miraculous birth” in 1974, and even more so since 1982, when he officially entered the entertainment arena. His vision for the project was clear: “I could always see what the book would look like. I was disappointed when I couldn’t include all the photos, stories, images, and other special things I wanted in my thesis. So seeing the book take shape really created a renewed vision of what it would look like. I am truly grateful to the various teams that work with me to bring my lyrics to life.
Lady Montano thinks this biography will resonate with anyone who wants to know more about Machel. “I’m very aware of Machel’s ongoing transformation and how much he opened my mind to inclusion,” she says. “So while it says you need to work with a defined target audience, or a specific niche or population in mind for your product, I’m confident that this work will provide an authentic, revealing and impactful account of the my son’s life in music to anyone willing to receive him,” she adds.
Forty years in any industry is no small feat, but it’s a particularly remarkable milestone in the music industry, and even more so in the context of the Caribbean and Trinidad and Tobago, in particular. . Regardless of Lady’s indisputable focus on building a legacy, there is a sense of urgency for her to share the first 40 years of Machel’s history now. She sees this fortieth year marking “the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one; one that is still taking shape.
“Celebrating 40 years in music is amazing to me and having a book chronicling this journey was something I never imagined in my wildest dreams,” Machel says of the book’s 2022 release. Lady’s unique place in this project, he adds, “I’m honored to have this happen and really excited to have this story told by the one person who knows me best. My mom and I have bonded so tightly every turn and turn of this remarkable hike that I know her story will be quite vivid and inspiring to all. Thank you my ‘Lady’ – the best mother, manager and friend.”
The official launch of the King of Soca biography, scheduled for Trinidad in June 2022, is one of many initiatives planned to commemorate Machel Montano’s 40 years of music.
Pre-orders for King of Soca will soon be open to the public. Interested parties are encouraged to follow @kingofsoca on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates, or email [email protected] for more information.