January 12, 2020
Lindener Brandon Harding was, in the wee hours of Sunday, crowned Carib Soca Monarch 2018 after outshining his nine other finalists at Durban Park, Georgetown.Brandon Harding during his performanceThe young man, who now resides in St. Lucia with his family, returned to Guyana to enter into the Carib Soca Monarch, which was on pause for two years. The return of the monarch saw new talent being exposed, thus giving the artistes a chance to showcase same to the world.Winning the monarch was the expectation of the young Harding who, before the commencement of the competition, was full of confidence and energy. As the first performer, he set the bar for the others to follow and catch up, but this was indeed a huge task.His performance was electrifying, as he set the stage on fire and, more so, had the crowd on his side. Singing his tune “Alive” decked in all white did the job for the young musician.His stage presentation and lyrics were enough to get the nod from the judges as the best of the best. At one time, his “countrywoman” Diana Chapman seemed as though she was going to take the lead after her performance, and although she performed well, she just could not match up Harding’s lively performance.The top four of the Carib Soca Monarch 2018 competitionEventually, the judges thought she was the third best in the competition. However, coming in second was seasoned campaigner Melissa Vanilla Roberts. She rocked the stage and had a great performance; but, in the end, the judges thought she was a few points short of Harding.Coming in fourth was another Lindener, Lil Colwyn. Some thought he should not have placed in the final four, but the judges thought otherwise.Apart from the top four performers, some others did well and some not so well. Jonathan “Lil Red” King, who has been competing in the competition for quite some time, failed to impress the crowd and ultimately the judges during his performance. His performance of “Paint, water and powder” needed some more energy to get the crowd hyped and moving.Another performer, “Fluffy,” with “Bam Bam,” had a good start but failed to carry through with the same vibes and energy to the end.In addition, Roger Hinds, who performed “Money,” had a good stage entrance with some hiccups, but after a few minutes into his performance, he started to bash the former soca monarchs, Jumo Primo and Kwasi Ace Edmondson.However, at intermission, Edmondson replied to Hinds with a lyrical tongue-licking.All in all, it was a good night, even with a few disappointments. First, the competition, which was billed to commence at 20:00h, never got underway until after 23:00h.At 22:30h, the host of the event, Tameka Henry, appeared on stage; and after a few minutes of rambling, she introduced the members of the Heatwaves Band, who, without a doubt, set the tone for the night with some high quality performances from Calvin Burnette and Mark Batson.The Heatwaves dancers were also quite impressive with some energetic dance routines. At the end of the night, the newly crowned Carib Soca Monarch walked away with $1.5 million in cash, the title, bragging rights, and a chance to represent Guyana at the international soca monarch competition in Trinidad and Tobago in February, 2019.