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Soca Stars Electrify MokoVille: Nadia Batson Debuts New Tracks at Melanin Night

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Sweet Melanin Night at MokoVille recently became the epicenter of soca music, as a stellar lineup of renowned artists from the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean delivered electrifying performances. The event, a highlight of the 2024 Crucian Christmas Festival, showcased the vibrant energy and rich culture of soca music to a captivated audience.

Nikki Brooks, a trailblazing figure in the soca world, kicked off the night with an exhilarating 45-minute set. Brooks, who made history 27 years ago as the first woman to clinch the Calypso Monarch title, opened with her 2022 hit, “Shiver,” before diving into her extensive repertoire. In a post-show interview, Brooks reflected on the significance of Calypso music to Caribbean identity and lamented its absence from this year’s Carnival lineup. A fervent advocate for local issues, she voiced her concerns about St. Croix’s water quality, citing its direct impact on her family.

Following Brooks was Destra, the Trinidadian sensation known for her potent vocals and charismatic stage presence. Her set list, featuring hits like “Loose,” “Just a Little Bit,” and “Tremble It,” had the crowd on their feet, culminating in a spirited rendition of “It’s Carnival.”

Alison Hinds, another icon of the genre, continued the high-energy performances. Starting with “Aye Aye Aye,” she skillfully escalated the tempo, leading the audience through a journey of her hits, including a lively “Ragamuffin” and “Faluma.” In a post-performance discussion, Hinds shared insights into her evolution from the lead vocalist of Square One to a celebrated solo artist, attributing this transformation to motherhood.

The highlight of the evening was Nadia Batson’s performance, where she premiered two new songs, including the highly anticipated “Feather.” Despite her tight schedule, Batson’s energy was infectious, as she performed a mix of her own hits and popular songs from other Trinidadian artists. The debut of her latest track, “My All,” a story of unrequited love, was met with enthusiastic approval from the crowd. Reflecting on her journey in the music industry, Batson expressed heartfelt gratitude for the warm reception she received, contrasting it with her initial performance on St. Croix six years ago.

The event, which also featured live streaming on official platforms, allowed thousands to experience the richness of Caribbean culture and the talent of its soca stars, marking a memorable night at MokoVille during the Crucian Christmas Festival.

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Black Empire’s “End of the Road” Secures Road March Title, Guava Tart Wins People’s Choice Award

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The vibrant and culturally rich Crucian Christmas Festival Parade of 2023-2024 has officially declared its winners, showcasing the immense talent and competitive spirit of the participants.

In the Children’s Parade Troupe (under 50 members), TSK Children Troupe emerged as the champions, with CMC Arts and Lights on Connecting taking the first and second runner-up spots, respectively. For larger troupes with over 50 members, Juanita Gardine School triumphed, and Pearl B. Larsen School followed as the first runner-up.

Individual performances in the Children’s Parade didn’t go unnoticed. “An Ode to My Ancestors” bagged the win in the individual category. The St. Croix Majorettes scooped the first place in both the Children’s Parade Majorette and Moko Jumbies segments, while 175 Emancipation secured the Moko Jumbies title. The Rising Stars Steel Orchestra was lauded as the Children’s Parade Steel Pan winner.

The Adult Parade featured a diverse range of winners across different categories. Gentleman of Jones clinched the Floupe title for groups under 100, followed by Reveling Masqueraders. In the Adult Troupe (under 100 members) category, TSK took the top spot, ahead of Gallows Barians and Caribbean Revelers. The St. Croix Majorettes and Guardians of Culture claimed victories in the Adult Majorette and Adult Moko Jumbies categories, respectively.

In the Adult Parade Steel Pan competition, the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra repeated their winning streak. The coveted Road March title was awarded to Black Empire for their electrifying performance of “End of the Road.”

Adding to the list of accolades, Guava Tart received the USVI Festivals & Viya’s People’s Choice Award for their remarkable contribution to the festival’s success.

This announcement wraps up the competitive aspect of the festival, highlighting the diverse and imaginative talents of the participants. Their contributions have significantly enriched the cultural landscape of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Department of Tourism and the Division of Festivals extend heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and participants for making this parade season a resounding success.

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71st Annual Crucian Christmas Festival: A Record-Breaking Celebration of Culture

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The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, in a collaborative effort with the Division of Festivals, recently wrapped up the 71st edition of the Crucian Christmas Festival. This event, a highlight on St. Croix’s calendar, spanned twelve days starting December 26, immersing attendees in the island’s vibrant cultural heritage.

The festival kicked off in Frederiksted Village, showcasing an array of events. Highlights included the Prince, Princess, Dutch, and Duchess Show, the Queen Pageant, and the Soca Monarch competition. A new addition this year was the Kid Ville event, specifically designed for young attendees to have their own night of celebration.

December 29 marked the start of the International Cultural Night, featuring seven nights of free concerts. The lineup brought together local and international artists such as Cool Session, Charlie Aponte, and Destra. The festival also introduced the much-anticipated ‘war of tarts’ at the annual Food Fair on Frederiksted Pier, with guava emerging as the favored flavor.

Record-breaking attendance was noted during the J’ouvert, Children’s and Adults Parades, a testament to the festival’s growing popularity. Participants showcased the Caribbean heritage of the island with vibrant costumes, music, and dance.

Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism, lauded the festival’s success and community involvement. He commended the Division of Festivals for elevating the event, making it a benchmark for cultural celebrations.

The festival concluded with a spectacular fireworks display and Uber Soca Night at Frederiksted Village. International AfroBeats star Davido and Soca Performer of the Year Mr. Killa headlined the closing event.

Ian Turnbull, Director of Festivals, praised the festival’s showcase of culture, from the pageantry to the culinary delights.

The Department of Tourism and Division of Festivals thanked partner agencies, including the V.I. Police Department, the V.I. Department of Public Works, and others, for their support in ensuring a safe and memorable festival experience.

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Vibrant Children’s Parade Charms Leaders and Public at St. Croix Christmas Festival

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The St. Croix Crucian Christmas Festival’s Children’s Parade recently brought a vibrant spectacle to the streets, marked by a kaleidoscope of music, dance, moko jumbies, and youthful royalty, receiving high praise from organizers and leaders across the territory.

Grand Marshall Michelle Smith, a celebrated young local athlete, inaugurated the parade, which showcased a variety of school and community groups. These troupes captivated onlookers, including key figures from the territorial government. Governor Albert Bryan Jr., speaking with the Consortium, expressed delight at the strong participation in the festival’s various events, including concerts and competitions.

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory lauded the impressive turnout and commended the dedication of the participating children. Senator Novelle Francis Jr. extended gratitude to the Division of Festivals and the V.I. Police Department for ensuring the festival’s safety and success.

The procession was further embellished by festival royalty, including monarchs from numerous elementary and high schools, with representatives from St. Thomas. Junior Miss of the Festival, 16-year-old Alayah Watley, plans to leverage her title to promote American Sign Language in St. Croix through her “Read Between the Signs” initiative.

From the audience, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach shared his enthusiasm with the Consortium, praising the high energy of the festival and acknowledging the parade’s contributors for preserving these cultural traditions. He particularly celebrated the troupe leaders and participants for their inspirational roles.

Highlighting the event were the St. Croix Majorettes, recently recognized by the V.I. Legislature and celebrating their 50th anniversary. Carol Burke, chair of the territorial Emancipation Committee, represented a St. Thomas troupe commemorating the 175th anniversary of emancipation. She called for increased parental involvement and a return to family-centric community values.

Concluding on Saturday with the Adults Parade and the final Village night, the festival, as described by Lieutenant Governor Roach, offers a platform for Crucians to demonstrate their rich talents, character, and culture to the world, transcending the territory’s modest size.

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