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Montano promises the best of Monk on Machel Monday

Friday, February 6, 2015
Carnival 2015
Machel Montano in front the Pyramids in Egypt as he filmed the video for his song On My Way. PHOTO: CHE KOTHARI

Fans will just have to wait and see what new innovations Machel Montano has dreamed up for Machel Monday on February 9. Montano has promised his greatest show yet but continues to remain tight-lipped on who his special surprise artistes will be.

Montano, who was speaking during CNC3’s 7 o’clock newscast on Wednesday night, also revealed that he would be partnering with Guardian Media Limited (GML) to broadcast the highly anticipated concert. GML’s CEO Lisa Agard was on set to sign the agreement and welcomed Montano and expressed her joy at having a “visionary be part of the GML team.”

Montano used the momentous occasion to reveal some of the artistes who will be performing at the concert like Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Major Lazer, Farmer Nappy, Patrice Roberts, Destra, Shaggy, Chris Martin, Papa J and Fatman Scoop. He added that there would be a few more surprises. 

“The whole thing about Machel Monday is to keep people on their toes. You waiting to see what the intro will be, you waiting to see what the show will look like and what the stage will look like. Every year we say this is the biggest and the best because we compete only with ourselves.”

He also said that the show will revolve around his new concept of Monk Monte and explained that the concept came to him when he decided to figure out how he could present music to the world that portrayed only his best attributes. 

“Monk Monte is really the messenger of the monk philosophy and is a movement of new knowledge and that movement of new knowledge is flowing within me but it is a movement where I inspire people to learn things, to rediscover each other first of all and then different cultures.”

Part of his new outlook is trying to become his own man but keep connected to his past because “the monk philosophy is the tradition, technology and the truth.”

The triangle or pyramid which has been featured in most of Machel Monday’s advertising represents moving forward, he explained.

By following this principle he will be able to achieve his objective which is to make music that reflects his highest expression and which can then be taken to the corners of the globe.

“I feel if I do that I’m going to inspire people and that’s what I want my legacy to be.” 

Montano also premiered his new song and video called On My Way during the newscast. The video was filmed in Egypt and directed by Damien Marcano. He chose Egypt and the pyramids because he wanted to show the unique comparison between the monuments and our own Trinity Hills.

The song has special meaning to him because it was written when he felt like he was on his way to something new. “It was the symbolic song of being on my way to Monk Monte,” he said. 

Montano said he felt honoured to be able to feature two generations of his family in the video which represented his connection to his past, through his father Winston and his future through his son.

This is not the first time that the soca star has explained Monk Monte and his new spiritual outlook on his music. 

During a panel discussion, 33 Years On Stage, held on January 28 at the Boissiere House, Queen’s Park West, Port-of-Spain, where his exhibition Onstage is currently being housed, he revealed that Monk Monte was his attempt at recreating his personality so that he can focus on fixing his life and in doing so pass on knowledge to the young people around him and throughout the nation.

The discussion was chaired by T&T Guardian features editor Franka Philip and included Fr Stephen Ransome and Sr Theresa Vialva who have both done in-depth studies about his career and also have published work based on the spiritual connection of his music. His parents Elizabeth and Winston, his manager Che Kothari and veteran journalist Laura Dowrich-Phillips also joined in the discussion. 

“The word Monk is in keeping with my basic tradition of reinventing myself. Why do I reinvent myself because it is a natural phenomenon that happens in me, it is like molting, like shedding skin. Is like every three years I feel like I have to become higher,” he said.

The idea to constantly make himself better in life came from his personal struggles to find acceptance. This struggle to find acceptance helped him to continue to focus on growing spiritually, he explained.

“This year I realised that I had to become something that I was avoiding for a long time, my own person. I have been living many years doing things to please other people, to please everyone around me, my mother, my company, my country, my fans, my friends and usually I would put myself last and at some point you realise you can’t help anybody unless you help yourself.”

He had no choice but to become selfish because he said he was losing himself and in trying to find the person that he was truly meant to be, he decided that the way of the monk was the only way to cut ties with his old life.

“When I lose myself I find something better than before, it’s like a treasure hunt. The Monk Monte was to become something new I didn’t want to become anymore of these things that I was trying to do like HD. So this last time I was like let us put away the HD, let’s put away all the other things we had before and let’s just find you and it was a movement of new knowledge.”

He revealed that his father’s amiable personality was the inspiration behind the Monte part of his new name. The new title has enabled him to examine his past and he reminisced about the days when he yearned for his music to receive acknowledgement from young people. During this period of his career at just 11, he said that he knew that music was his special mission in life.

Both of Montano’s parents expressed joy and satisfaction with their son’s career over the years. His mother Liz took a stroll down memory lane and shared about how hectic it was to be Machel’s manager.

“My role has been the most difficult in that I have been the one who has been there with him in the dark hours, when he will sit in a room feeling lonely and sometimes at four and five in the morning he will call me and I am always there,” she said.

She revealed that since retiring as manager she chooses to spend most of her time with her grandchildren.

Father Ransome, whose dissertation when he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in theology in 2008 was titled Machel Montano a critique of his religious imagery and imagination, also shared his views on the impact of Montano’s music on T&T.

He said he believes that a lot of Montano’s music was geared towards spreading a prophetic message of peace, love and unity. He read excerpts from thesis where he drew parallels to things that were happening in the world at the time.

He also shared about his experience when he interviewed Montano. 

“For me interviewing him on the mount for about three hours and 15 minutes I realised that many of the songs could also be used in relation to the love of God. There were so many songs that he changed the words and it was not about carnival but his relationship with God. Fundamentally for me his religious expressions was from somebody who was creating for more than just the season but somebody who was using his creativity even beyond the season to find God,” he said.

Sister Theresa Vialva echoed similar sentiments about the spirituality that existed in Montano’s work and shared her own experience of how he helped her to gain more confidence in herself. She believes that this confidence is translated into his music for all women. She revealed that she used some of his music at Holy Faith Convent to teach students about writing music and added she even used his music in the school’s chapel.

Vialva said she believes Montano has transformed the negativity usually associated with certain types of women by singing positively about them.

“What Machel has done with his lyrics is something of a quiet revolution. He has transformed the negative presentation of the black woman in the music to something that was positive.”

Veteran journalist and Content manager of Loop TT, Laura Dowrich Phillips read an article she wrote about Machel in Caribbean Beat, called How Machel Montano is Misunderstood which was one of the first times that she said he opened up to her about her spirituality.

“I interviewed him many times before but on this occasion I felt like we reached a turning point in our relationship, he really opened up. For two hours he spoke about spirituality, which was the first time he had spoken about that to me. He sang hymns and the interview just went to a level that I didn’t expect,” she said.

Montano said another aspect to Monk Monte is community outreach, so that he can help people to find the best in themselves. He plans to reach out to young people in areas throughout the country and help them to become more educated through a company called the Machel Montano foundation of Greatness. He almost broke down as he admitted that it may take a while for the foundation to become fully functional as the person who was helping him organise it was former SC Dana Seetahal, who was murdered last year.



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