Simon Baptiste

NOW AT THE HELM: Simon Baptiste

Newly-appointed director of Soca Monarch, Simon Baptiste, is ready for the task at hand. This, after, Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez resigned as chairman of the International Soca Monarch (ISM) competition one week ago. Baptiste, founder of Question Mark Entertainment, an entertainment firm that specialises in events, artiste management, bookings and consultancy, said he is not going to introduce any grandiose plans for the staple Carnival competition.

“I think at this stage in the game, the focus is on making sure it runs smoothly. There are not going to be any miracles here, and I’m not going to suddenly announce any incredible major changes to the brand or any changes that people are perhaps expecting. We just need to produce a quality event and maintain the standard that was set by my predecessors and find a way to create a better bridge between the viewing public and the product, so it’s like any other job.

“I have been asked to take up a role that requires the ability to manage this event. Fay-Ann did a phenomenal job, and now it’s what I’ve been given to handle. I’ve actually been involved in events over the last 20 years, all ranging from product launches to events with over 20,000 people, so this is nothing new to me,” Baptiste said.

“We are here to listen and understand what it takes to build a better brand and product and we want to make sure that our artistes are comfortable and happy in terms of what we do and in terms of production. We need to ensure that the fans and the general audience is also satisfied with the level of production that is created on the stage.

“The first thing that I really need to be able to do is assess where we are at. Like in any project, you just have to do the analysis, understand the position of your brand, and find a way to do the things that work and improve on the elements that can make it better as an experience. I think the ISM has a wonderful theme that is working.

“What we need to be able to do is figure out how to be transformative in terms of making the brand connect with audiences throughout the year and not just seasonally because we tend to create that disconnect on Ash Wednesday, as we have a tendency to move on. It is a pattern you can predict and we need to step out of that familiar zone by embracing our music, performing on international festivals and programmes that make our artistes better,” Baptiste said.


DESPERADOES is the 2020 National Panorama champion.

The Laventille-founded band beat a competitive field by four clear points to take the coveted title after one of the most hotly contested finals in recent history, on Saturday evening, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

TO compose a winning Panorama tune is a dream come true, says soca star Nailah Blackman.

Nailah’s “More Sokah” was the winning song of choice by Desperadoes arranger Carlton “Zanda” Alexander at Saturday’s National Panorama grand finals, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

GOOD morning, Carnival 2020!

Trinidad and Tobago will today open the gates on the Greatest Show on Earth, with thousands of revellers hitting the streets for two days of masquerading that will showcase traditional local “ole mas”, as well as modern costumery.

YET another woman has been murdered after she was shot dead at her Valencia home yesterday morning.

UNDER overcast skies and a drizzle, San Fernando Kiddies’ Carnival kicked off at midday yesterday, with the eager and enthusiastic young masqueraders dancing in the streets.