Soca fans all over the world waited with baited breath on Monday for the names of the artistes making it to the final of the International Soca Monarch. This, after a gruelling and more than ten hours long semi-finals held in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Sunday 17th January and viewed worldwide over the Internet. Alongside some of Trinidad’s best were performers from Barbados, Antigua, St. Vincent, Grenada, even Japan, and Saint Lucia. For Saint Lucia’s lone Soca soldier, Teddyson John, had literally taken Trinidad and Tobago by storm with his runaway hit ‘Allez, Allez’. And after a performance that was considered among the best at the semi-finals, the inclusion of his name on the list of finalists should have been a mere formality.
But it would take another day before the announcement and when it came on Tuesday evening, Saint Lucians at home and abroad celebrated Teddyson John’s forward march to the International Soca Monarch final. The event will be held on Friday 5th February in Port of Spain. The other finalists are Voice, Third Bass, Preedy, 5Star Akil, Hypa Sounds, Farmer Nappy, Lyrikal, Blaxx, Cloud 5, Sekon Sta, Patrice Roberts, Ricardo Drue, Pternsky, Rikki Jai, Shurwayne Winchester and Shal Marshall. Two wild card entrants are also being considered.
On Friday the STAR spoke with Teddyson John, who also happens to be Saint Lucia’s two times Groovy King, about his whirlwind success in Trinidad so far. “It is an overwhelming feeling and I am happy that Saint Lucia, and not just TJ, is where we are today in terms of Soca,” he commenced. “I mean it’s been a long time coming since we did it with Ricky T and Pressure Boom. Much respect to Ricky T but, as a Soca artiste, this is something I always wanted to achieve, not just for myself but for Saint Lucia, and I am happy that Saint Lucians all over are celebrating with me,” TJ continued.
Asked what it was about this particular song TJ replied: “a combination of the message and the timing. ‘Allez’ is a song for the times and I believe with all that is happening in the world today, it is a song that just uplifts people. Even here in Trinidad, with talk of a recession, I am meeting people everyday who tell me that the song helps them get through and lifts their spirit.”
Speaking on his preparation for the final TJ told the STAR that he has a good team behind him and it is all about “upping the ante” come 5th February. “We can’t go in soft; we have to come hard with a full package and really give the fans all over the world not just a great performance but a great show,” TJsaid. Asked about support from entities like the CDF, creative industries and the tourist board, TJ revealed that discussions are ongoing with his people and promises have been made but so far nothing has been confirmed.
Still, like his song says, he is “moving forward”, undaunted, with a whole team of Soca warriors behind him. An article by the Trinidad Express titled “Poor Vocals Plague Soca Monarch semis”, providing a rather vivid description of the various performances, sparked much public debate. After having highlighted the ‘highs and lows” of the semis, the Express article saved this gem for last: “They [competing artistes] will all be chasing St Lucian Teddyson John, however, come Fantastic Friday night. The ‘Allez, Allez’ man gave a master class in performance art, striking the perfect balance between energy on stage and crowd engagement, all the while maintaining vocal integrity.”
Amidst all of this TJ has a packed programme of events and fetes including popular carnival fetes like Army Fete, Ladies’ Night Out, Central Bank Fete, Kes Tuesday on the Rocks and many more. He is also part of Bunji Garlins Vikings’ set at various events. We couldn’t help but wonder how he keeps his energy level up. “On a morning I wake up, I pray, I give thanks and then I work out. Also I try not to get caught up in the partying scene; it’s hard but I try,” he said with a smile. “I go out to perform, meet the fans sometimes, do some interviews and it’s back in for me to get some rest. I am in this for the long haul,” TJ concluded.