Tobago Soca Artistes Shine as Soca Under the Samaan Tree Comes of Age
Port of Spain, Trinidad, February 16, 2017
It is one of the most longstanding events in Tobago to be hosted by a private entity. Soca Under the Samaan Tree (SUST) has officially turned an adult and according to promoter, CEO and owner of Tambrin 92.7fm George Leacock, SUST has come of age.
2017 will be recorded as a special year in the records of SUST, due to the fact that it was the first year with such a plethora of Tobago-based soca artistes. “The thing that excites me the most this year, is the emergence of the Tobago artistes. Even at the time of this interview, which is close to midnight, Tobago artistes are on stage. We could not do that 18 years ago,” said Leacock.
SUST takes place in what used to be the heart of Scarborough, the old market. Today, it has been converted into a prime car park but on that Saturday people replaced vehicles as patrons came out to support their friends, family and to have a good time at this annual event.
Enhancing the SUST experience were the bmobile ambassadors who ensured patrons had cups for the night and the rest of the carnival season, bandanas to jump and wave and glowing lanyards to help make them easily identifiable at night. “We enjoy partnering with SUST. This is one of the events that has proven itself on the social landscape of Tobago, as one that is resilient and here to stay for a very long time. We particularly like the fact that it is a platform for the upcoming Tobago soca artistes, especially those wetting their feet in the business for the very first time,” said Onica Blackman, TSTT, Tobago Operations.
Some of the more experienced artistes included, Adana, Frankie D, Kerricia Simon and Kaspa De Lyrical, whilst newcomers such as Rowmillia ‘Romz’ Nedd and Anthony ‘Junior Banna’ Bacchus are the babies of carnival 2017.
Performing ‘All Ah Me’, artiste and host N’Kem Scotland aka Kaspa De Lyrical, expressed that, “It is a good endeavour to push Tobago. Doesn’t matter if young artistes are not being paid. It is about building yourself, building your craft and gaining exposure.” Newcomer, 17-year-old, Rowmillia ‘Romz’ Nedd, doing her first soca release, ‘ I am Soca’, shared, that she has been singing calypso over the years but decided to experiment with soca this year. “It was a nice experience. Crowd was a little tough for the first time but I enjoyed it. I was first encouraged to get into soca whilst doing a radio interview and I took the step.”
With calypsonians either straddling both industries or making the move from calypso to soca, Leacock said he has never feared for soca but has always been concerned about the artform calypso. However, Leacock noted, “Historically I have resisted having a special time on the radio to play Tobago music. I feel that will limit people’s ambition. So we put Tobago artistes on at anytime to compete with other artistes. This has produced artistes from Tobago who can now hold their own.”
Now in his third year as a soca artiste, husband and father of 2, Frankie D, commented on his performance at SUST, “Tonight was real energetic, real nice. As the crowd gave me energy, I gave back to them. It was a nice vibes.” Kerricia Simon, already a seasoned artiste at 21, who started to perform since the age of 10 with her father ‘Culture B’, also had glowing comments about the experience, “The crowd response was awesome. Everything is always on point. It gives artistes an opportunity to get song and voice heard. Not many artistes have that opportunity to perform at a live show to get recognition.”
Meanwhile, Anthony ‘Junior Banna’ Bacchus said that though he has been writing for 11 years, he only decided to enter the industry as an artiste this year. “I grew up admiring my father the ‘Original Banna’ from Kiskidee Caravan and Caribbean Songfest and always wondered when it would be my turn. I was patient with my talent, trying to develop myself, so when I came out I would make a proper impact on people” said Bacchus.