When it comes to Soca music, those who know and love it will tell you how Soca becomes a part of them. It is a specific style of Caribbean music that was born out of love and continues to bring people together. 

How Soca music is living and thriving in Alberta.  Produced by Aiesha Hinds.

Soca music was created in Trinidad and Tobago by a man named Garfield Blackman. Soca had two original purposes; one was to bring together the two demographics of Trinidad and Tobago, Africans and Indians, that shared the island and secondly, to create a style of music to help replace the dying trend of Calypso.

Calypso music is another style of music with African heritage. Calypso music is the Caribbean’s town crier music. This relates back to the original intent of Calypso: Communication amongst the people.

“Soca is a combination of East Indian and African rhythms,” said Garfield Blackman in an interview with G.B.T.V back in 1995.

“The purpose of Soca music was to bring together the East Indians and Africans together.”

Soca uses a unique combination of Indian rhythm instruments such as Dholaks, Tablas and Dhantals with traditional Calypso rhythms.

What has resulted from the creation of one man is a culture that is thriving. In today’s culture Soca music plays a vital role to those who love it.

The way Soca makes people feel is always the biggest attraction to the music and culture. For Edmonton local, Cherelle George, she wanted to take her love for Soca music and adapt it into a fitness dance class.

“It’s [Soca] everything to me,” George said.

George has Trinidadian heritage and has grown up around Soca music, she remembers waking up in the morning to the sounds of Soca music or hearing her father play steel drums.

Apart from always having Soca in her life, George is also a trained dancer. She decided back 2013 decided to incorporate her love of dance, fitness and Soca all into one class she calls  SocaFit.

“I feel like it’s is something that everyone can connect with. Once that bass hits, it literally takes over your soul and it replaces your heartbeat, it’s just you and the music.”   

For those who crave Soca music, they look no further than Drew Atlas. Founder and creator of Calgary Soca, Atlas wanted to bridge the connection between those who love Soca and the culture.

“Soca is life, I should put that on a hat or a shirt,” Atlas laughed.

The positivity and energy of Soca music is what keeps Atlas going back to the music, it is impossible to find a Soca song that isn’t light-hearted and positive.

Calgary Soca is responsible for much, if not the majority, of Soca culture in Calgary. The organization puts on fetes (a Caribbean party), hosts a radio show on CJSW 90.9 (which runs on Saturdays from 6-7 p.m. and Sundays from 9-10 a.m.) and is heavily involved with year-round events and promotions.

EDIT SOS PIC1SocaFit creator, Cherelle George, teaches her students a Soca routine to Machel Montano’s and Bunji Garlin’s “Buss Head”. SocaFit is a one of a kind dance fitness combination class that uses Caribbean style music. Photo by Aiesha Hinds.

“Music is life to me and Soca is definitely life to me,” Atlas said.

One unique characteristic that Atlas attributes to Soca music is the fact that Soca music is multi-generational. The same music that Atlas’ daughter listens to his parents have as well. Soca music has a way of becoming a part of person and completely engulfing them into a culture that is accepting.  

“It’s an antidepressant,” said Dwight Lanye, Atlas’ co-host for the radio show.  

“It’s you can’t sit still kind of music, you can’t listen to it and not bob your head.”

When it comes the atmosphere that Soca creates, Sherman Thomas is one man who knows it the best. Thomas is a local Soca DJ in Calgary and also a event coordinator who puts on a Caribbean themed parties throughout the year.

Coming from the islands of Saint Lucia, Soca dominates the industry. This is what started kick started Thomas’ foundation and love of Soca.   

“It’s [Soca]  happy music, there’s no violence in the music. It talks about things we enjoy, things we love to do on a daily basis,” Thomas said.

Thomas describes Soca as the happiest music, one that people can connect and dance to. His main priority when it comes to  planning his events is to ensure that the music and atmosphere are on point.

“Soca is life.”

Soca music was born out of a passion to bring people together, promote love and send positivity into the world. This culture that thrives off of Soca will never die.

It is hard the way Soca enters your heart and makes it a home for itself, it brings a joy like no other music can. It becomes a part of the fibres of your being. For those those who live, breathe and love Soca they say it in three words. Soca is life.

Editor: Amber McLinden | amclinden@cjournal.ca

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