“Machel Montano is like Optimus Prime. Is like a transformer. The limbs controlled by Marcus, the brain controlled by Monty and the heart by Lady and I just wearing the face and doing the smiling.”
That break down of the pivotal figures behind his super star persona, by soca star Machel Montano, provided the ultimate endorsement of the King of Soca biography.
Montano gave a behind the scenes glance at the significant roles his nuclear family, father Winston a.ka. Monty, mother Elizabeth a.k.a. Lady” and brother Marcus played in helping him construct the early years of his illustrious 40-year-career.
As the heart of the operation, Lady Montano is best positioned to tell his incredible story, Montano said, during the launch of the much-anticipated book, on Tuesday evening, at Guardian Media, St Vincent Street, Port of Spain.
“I eh really worried about if she get it right, but I know Lady know the stories. She know some of the stories that even I myself can’t remember. I does have to go to her,” Montano joked with moderator Maxine Williams, when asked about the accuracy of the book’s portrayal.
Earlier, a smiling Lady Montano said it’s a story she has waited 40 years to share. A remarkable journey she was so determined to accurately depict that she opted to self-publish out of fear of censorship.
“I spent 40 years collecting it and I always wanted to share it. A story I wanted to tell in colour. I decided I would self-publish because if I only went with a publisher they would say ‘black and white, only text, you cyah write that’. How could I tell a story that is going to be interrupted or told by somebody else who is not the ultimate insider,” Lady Montano said to rousing applause from a small live studio audience.
Minister of Tourism, Culture & The Arts Randall Mitchell, Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez and Montano’s wife Renee and her family were among the specially invited guests to witness Tuesday’s landmark moment for the Montano family.
Never in conflict of Machel’s sexuality
As his manager Lady oversaw Montano’s career from the days he was “Too Young to Soca” as a prodigious eight-year-old to the meteoric rise of his Xtatik band. Asked by Williams about the potential internal conflict of seeing her baby boy become a sex symbol, Lady told the audience she always understood it was part of the culture.
“It was never a conflict. I am a lover of my culture and that is part of my culture. If I find conflict in it then I’m being hypocritical. Because if I am home or somewhere else I will do it too. Although Machel will say come Lady, take it down,” she joked.
“So, its something I expect. But I always accept it as part of the culture and I know that’s all it is, yuh not trying to be disrespectful and if its cool with him its cool with me.”
King of Soca gives fans unprecedented access into Montano’s world telling “the true stories” behind several controversial moments in the singer’s career, Lady said.
One such story explored is the 2003 arrest of Montano and Lady in St Maarten on suspicion of alleged drug trafficking. According to reports the pair were taken into police custody after two suitcases with their names on the tags was found with marijuana. However, they were both released the following day after authorities in the Dutch territory dropped the investigation.
“When we got there I see the bags coming and I this dog sniffing and they sniff two bags and then he got a reward. I say whey, somebody get ketch. I didn’t know was me and Machel. So I went my merry way. The next thing yuh know somebody called me and say Machel get arrested. Ah say for what, Nappy and one of the other boys went with me and is one of the worst things I could ever experience, seeing Machel behind bars.
“We went upstairs and sat down and the officer told me yuh know so and so and we found two bags of marijuana weighing 90 pounds with your name and Machel name. So, I start to laugh because I say this have to be a joke. They told me there was Elizabeth Montano name on it and Machel Montano. Our boys could tell yuh, we doh ever put Machel name on any bags when we traveling and I doh put my full name, its always E. Montano. So then I start to laugh because I know it had to be a joke.
“The officer said to me ‘doh laugh yuh know, cause in this country it have no bail and you too are also arrested’. The rest of the story is in the book,” Lady concluded coyly.
King of Soca is available for online purchase at www.kingofsoca.com and will be stocked at select local bookstores starting next week.