Machel Montanto

machel-montanto2Born November 24, 1974 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Machel Montano was destined to be great. Through his ever-evolving musical offerings, Machel works on his mission of depositing soca into the domain of mainstream music. Machel’s career began in 1982 at age seven; at age nine he formed his band, Pranasonic Express. Montano’s debut album “Too Young To Soca”, released in 1985, was an instant hit which earned rave reviews and standing ovations at live performances. In April of 1986, the young performer appeared on the popular television show, Star Search, bringing soca music to US national television. The next year, Machel took 2nd place in the Trinidad & Tobago National Song Writer’s Festival with his song, “Dream Girl.” In 1987, at the age of 12, he was the winner of the Caribbean Song Festival held in Barbados. He was the first Trinidadian and youngest to ever win this prestigious contest.

One of Machel’s earliest and greatest achievements was his May, 1984 appearance at Madison Square Garden in the The Felt Forum in New York City at the age of 10. He was billed as a support act for the Mighty Sparrow and other top calypsonians. At the 7th Annual Copyright Organization of Trinidad & Tobago (COTT) Awards, Machel received the awards for Song Writer of the Year 2004/2005 and Song of the Year 2004/2005 for “Madder Than That”. Also in 2005, he attended the 3rd ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL SOCA AWARDS – in Trinidad and received awards for: Male Soca Performer of the Year, Soca Song Writer of the Year, Overall Male Soca Performer of the Year, Soca Artiste Album/CD of the Year for “The Xtatik Experience”, Overall Soca Band of the Year; and Soca Video of the Year for “You”.

In 2008, Machel was awarded the Bob Marley Award Entertainer of the Year 2007, Best Calypso/Soca entertainer 2007, and named the Most Outstanding Stage Personality at the International Reggae and World Music Awards at the historic Apollo Theatre in New York. That year also found Machel receiving an award at the 1st Annual BET J Virtual Awards for Best Caribbean Artiste of the Year. Other awards were bestowed upon Machel in 2008 at the Soca News Awards in the UK.

In 2009, Machel’s released his album, “Heavenly Drum.” The album had a fresh sound and included songs like “Mesmerize”, “Fly Away”, “Pray” and many more. Some of the more popular songs were premiered at the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival which included the rollicking rhythms of “Push Bumpers”, “Block to Block” and “Won’t Stop”. These were featured in the June/July issues of Vibe Magazine (page 94).

In January 2010, Machel became the first soca artist to attain a headlining slot at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. At the 2010 Road March Competition, Machel placed 3rd with the song “No Behaviour”. On May 2, 2010 he made history as the only two-time recipient (2008) of The Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year at Martins International Reggae and World Music Awards held in Queens, New York. In May, 2010, Machel, as special guest artist for the U.S. shows, embarked on a 5-week tour with Pitbull on his Mr. Worldwide Carnival tour.

Machel is constantly working toward his mission of successfully ushering soca into the realm of mainstream music. It is his dream to see soca being enjoyed in the international market. Moreover, due to soca’s crossover appeal, Machel states, “We want to use our experience to take soca international,” he says. “…I have been pushing the envelope, trying to revolutionize soca, trying to improve its quality. It is very difficult to bring this music to the mainstream and at the same time stay grounded at home but we have created a sound that we believe is palatable to all markets and can play on the radio in rotation with other popular songs. That is a dream I have always had and something I look forward to achieving.”

Machel returned to Trinidad and Tobago carnival in 2011 after being absent in 2010. “The Return” concert was a return to the National Stadium to a sold out audience to witness the mother of All Machel Montano events. His return to the competition was spectacular where he emerged the Power Soca Monarch Champion 2k11 and also captured the price for best presentation. The climax was his victory in the Road March. His song “Advantage” was the most played song to cross the stage on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
On the heels of Carnival he returned to Madison Square Garden in March 2011 another sold out event. His 35th album” The Return” contains 12 tracks with hits like “Bend Over, So High A.O.A, Advantage, Hard Wuk” and many more.

In May 2011, at the 30th Anniversary of IRAWMA, held in Port of Spain, Machel secured six (6) awards: Most Outstanding Stage Personality, Best Male Calypso/Soca Entertainer, Best Caribbean Entertainer, Most Outstanding Show Band, Best Soca Band and The King of Soca Award.