Defending International Groovy and Power Soca Monarch Machel Montano is confident of victory and depending on the strength of his faith in God to take him through tonight's final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
After recovering from his immensely successful Machel Monday event this year subtitled Machelements, Montano spoke with the Express about his faith, his focus, fog, floats and general feelings about Fantastic Friday.
The veteran entertainer was in high spirits as he explained how he stayed focused this season—despite of all his legal woes—and said he is looking forward to thrilling the fans tonight.
"I feel the competition will be a great showing of the talent of this nation. I know everyone is working hard to put on their best performances. I'm excited to bring my "A" game. My faith is strong. I have performances and plans to focus on and I give everyone of them the same dedication. Once submersed in this, I block out all the negatives. I don't read or listen to any negative comments and I cling to my friends and fans that encourage and support me. I read the positive only and the rest is about working hard to achieve the goals at hand."
Montano admitted that his recent conviction on assault charges has impacted on his mindset, but said he had no choice but to have faith in God to guide him through it —while refusing to let it affect his work ethic.
"This has been a challenge for quite some time," he said, "and for all involved, my heart goes out to everyone affected by this. I am thankful for all the support we have received and I now leave it up to the justice system, while I keep my faith in the Lord. Taking one day at a time, I pray, I trust and I move forward with the many tasks at hand."
The 38-year-old expressed great pride in his team and gratitude to "the people of the world" who assembled in such great numbers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium recently for Machel Monday. He said:
"I feel very grateful and fulfilled. I felt the love of my people which was important at a time like this and I was also happy to share the messages I thought were important for us to recognise beyond the competition and rivalry atmosphere. It has been our biggest turnout thus far and it felt great to watch and see the joy on the faces of so many adoring fans. I especially felt happy to see people dancing throughout. The look was amazing. Usually, I would depend on a call from Chow (show promoter Anthony Chow Lin On) to give me an update. This year, I was able to actually see the state of the venue on my phone before I left home via my Machel M-World app. That was fun and it looked amazing. We are also thankful for the cooperation of the flag crews for allowing us to achieve a great visual recording."
Asked if he had a favourite moment during his four-hour-long set at Machel Monday, Montano rejoiced most in "the passing of the torch moment" to the next generation of entertainers.
He said: "There were many special moments for me but I really, really enjoyed the bravery of little Jeremy and Devyn, as they sang "I Love My Country". It was a great feeling as a soca artiste, to be on stage with one of the biggest pop stars, one of the biggest reggae stars and one of the biggest hip hop stars of today—and they all represented the Red, White and Black. Big ups to Pitbull, Shaggy and Trinidad James for the support."
As for his preparations for tonight, Montano admitted that he would be getting assistance from designer/mas-maker, Peter Minshall for his presentations, but declined to reveal any of his surprises.
He said: "Preparations for Friday are more intense than Machel Monday. It's like packing all that you saw at Machelements and putting it into eight minutes and having only three days to get right. This is what we live for: we aim to break barriers and take this culture to the world. My expectation is to execute my vision as planned and retain my titles. Fogging, Float, Friday. Victory is certain. I see it no other way."
Montano will perform in position 9 in both the Groovy and Power competitions.