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‘Dani O’ proves she’s the best

‘Dani O’ proves she’s the best

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The Ragga soca competition may have had one year’s break, but that time only served to sharpen 23-year-old Danielle ‘Dani O’ Ollivierre’s talents. Much like a predatory lioness, she bided her time. Then on Sunday, June 15th, ‘Dani O’ sprang into action to capture her prey – the title of Ragga Soca Monarch 2008 and EC$8,000 in prize money – which relegated the likes of Shernelle ‘Skarpyon’ Williams, Jason ‘Galanaire’ Bess and Shaunelle McKenzie into second, third and fourth places, respectively.{{more}}

It was definitely a case of ‘third time lucky’, as this was Ollivierre’s third time competing at the Victoria Park. In 2006, she placed 2nd runner up in the Miss SVG pageant, and in 2007 she took part in the Soca Monarch competition, but did not place. Ollivierre described feeling “elated and excited” when she was named as the Ragga Soca winner. This being her first year taking part in the competition, she was not certain of how her performance and song would be received. “I wasn’t expecting it. It’s an odd feeling!” However, with a creative performance full of feeling, excellent use of the stage, saucy outfits and lively backup dancers, it was no wonder that the competition was blown out of the water.

Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Theatre & Dance, with a minor in Business, at the University of South Florida, Ollivierre found the preparations for the competition to be enjoyable because she was able to put her degree to work. “I was putting what I’m studying to practice” she explained. Her winning song ‘Gimme more’ was produced by Andrew Sutherland, of After Dark Studio. The future looks bright for ‘Dani O’, as she intends to keep competing, as well as negotiating a foray into other genres of music.

Despite a tardy start and a relatively low crowd attendance, the competition flowed smoothly, as 15 contestants vied for the accolade of Raggasoca Monarch. Shaunelle McKenzie gave an energetic performance with ‘Doh let me go’, whilst Dennis Bowman kept it somewhat of a family affair with ‘Dem bodies’, using his brother Roland as one of his backup singers. Bowman, who surprisingly did not place, gave an excellent performance complete with the obligatory grinding on the backup dancers. KC (featuring Icon) sang ‘With me tonight’; giving a satisfactory rendition but was definitely outshone on stage by Icon. Performing ‘The one for me’, Karen Veira gave a mediocre display which resulted in very little applause on completion. Squitty kept it simple and soulful with ‘Be free’, but almost had the spotlight stolen from him by the gyrations of one of his more portly backup dancers. Blakie (featuring Skinny Fabulous) came with his wildly popular tune ‘No more long talk’, dressed in a baby pink suit, and would certainly have won a prize for Best Crowd Response, had there been one. Ragga Soca Monarch 2006 Skarpyon delivered an entertaining performance with ‘Forever’, complete with a song-appropriate wedding concept. With a too lengthy spoken introduction, Bam performed ‘Burning up’, which resulted in crowd chanting of “no more long talk!” Despite his melodious voice, Bam seemed more caught up with performing to his backup dancers instead of the judges and the crowd. Tabia’s rendition of ‘Feeling it’ was quite entertaining, and she must be commended for also singing Luta’s part of the tune. It was unfortunate for Full Clip that he performed ‘Gimme gyal’ straight after Tabia because both their songs are on the same rhythm. Despite this, he used the stage well and gave a highly energetic performance. Galanaire had young women in the crowd screaming before he even began his delivery of ‘Do you’. He definitely whipped the female section of the crowd into a frenzy with gyratory hip movements, and topped that off with a sizzling salsa dance. Zoelah’s performance was a bit disappointing, as she had started off the carnival season with a bang; having won Best New Soca tune at the Launch of Carnival. Despite her greatly improved vocals, Zoelah’s performances, of late, have been sounding decidedly out of breath, and Sunday night was no exception. Bomani’s ‘Til morning come’ once again had the female section of the crowd screaming with appreciation. A well-seasoned artiste, his voice was clear and in tune, and he worked the stage well.

Emcees on the night were Radio Presenter Earl Abbott and Comedian Shevrelle ‘Candyman’ McMillan. Band music was provided by Hottsand and DJ music by Hyperactive. Kevin Lyttle and Miss SVG 2008 Ronique Dellimore, who did the honour of crowning Dani O, made guest appearances.

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