Machel Montano, the King of Soca, knows Black Lives Matter.
While speaking to the native of Trinidad and Tobago – a country where race and class continuously clash, causing the same violence and tension felt all throughout the world – the subject comes up almost immediately. His answer for the current state of affairs?
“I feel understanding love is really learning how to love each other. Sometimes we don’t know each other well enough to totally embrace each other,” he shared.
He goes on to address Black Lives Matter and the fundamental lack of understanding surrounding the movement: “We have Black Lives Matter being a legitimate cry and then we have people that are not Black, not really understanding why these people are crying out this way and it becomes a fight of All Lives Matter. But I think that we generally know all lives matter, but do we understand that life matters so much, that we shouldn’t be taking life with guns?
“When I talk about the knowing of self, do we know how blessed we are to have our lives? We should not be even entertaining the fact of taking lives,” he continued. “We see Brexit and everybody trying to go to their own corners when more than ever, we are urged to be one or to unite together…This is the whole purpose of why I do what I do — to bring people together, to eliminate those boundaries.”
Montano’s message of unity and love is not just something he commits to with his music, but in every facet of his career. His new film Bazodee tells the story of interracial love, triumph, and understanding – all set to the sounds of soca.
The infectious beat is no longer limited to Trinidad and Tobago or the Trinidadian Carnival. It’s worldwide and popping up in other musical forms as well. Soca music is inclusive, freeing, and as Montano puts, it allows him to tell a story “through the music, of how we live side by side.”
In Bazodee – Montano’s acting film debut – Anita Ponchouri (Natalie Perera) plays the dutiful daughter of a deep in debt Indian businessman. She’s about to marry a wealthy Londoner, when a chance encounter with Soca singer Lee de Leon (Montano) sets things askew.
Writer and producer Claire Ince came up with the idea of Bazodee during Carnival time.
“Ancil (a producer) and I thought it would be wonderful to make a musical that featured that music, with a love story at its heart. I wanted to make a story that was authentically Caribbean and featured that music,” she said.
Montano, who was aware the writer and producers were fans of soca, was also really impressed by the script. “I was flattered they could write such a touching love story using the basis of my songs as inspiration,” he says.
It sounds like the perfect fit. Bazodee is in theaters now.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty