Lady Montano's joy
Machel's mother reflects on her son's journey
Elizabeth Montano (left), mother of Machel, presents a copy of King of Soca to Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia "Babsy" Grange at the launch event. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

From her son was five years old, Elizabeth "Lady" Montano knew that her son Machel was destined for an enduring career in music.

Now celebrating 40 years in entertainment, and 'crowned' the King of Soca, Machel, is known for his high-energy performances, which have won him fans all over.

He boasts a career that has earned him countless hit songs, along with winning the Soca Monarch title on multiple occasions.

Lady Montano, speaking with the Jamaica Observer, said that from birth Machel has had an interesting journey.

"I have been there from the beginning of Machel's career. Machel was stillborn; he was born dead in November 1974. But by some miracle he was saved, because we didn't expect him to live. And then after that, he was exchanged at birth, and they brought an Indian child to me. I said from that moment I felt he was going to be someone special," Montano shared in an interview on Thursday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

The proud mother served as 'momager', handling the affairs of her son's career, after her husband Winston, aka Monty, decided to focus on being a geologist. She retired in 2014.

"My husband and I were teachers and we used to send our children [Machel and his older brother Marcus] to extracurricular activities. Marcus learnt to play the guitar and his music teacher wanted him to sing and play, but he couldn't sing. So he used to drag Machel into the singing. I took him to the same music teacher who wanted him to sing in the choir and it just grew from there," she recalled.

Marcus became a musician with the family's Xtatic band.

The Montano family has had a long relation with Jamaica, even residing in Mona Heights during the years Elizabeth and Monty were studying at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

"Jamaica is like a second home for Machel. My husband and I studied geology and education at UWI. Machel attended Mona Basic, and his brother attended Hope Valley Experimental," she explained.

"We taught the children certain values; values such as sharing and working with people, and loving your own. My husband used to teach them to love one another and unite and work hard. I feel very proud when I see it manifest in them as men."

She told the Observer that around 24 years ago, Machel considered quitting music.

"I remember in 1999, he said, 'Lady, this is too much responsibility for me.' And he wanted to give up. And that was when for the first time I told him that he was stillborn as a baby. And he said, 'Why didn't you tell me this before.' "

She remains delighted that he has stuck to his 'calling' and continues to be an example to others for what can be achieved when you work hard.

Last year, Machel launched his book King of Soca in Trinidad. He also had a launch event in Miami and New York. A Jamaica launch is scheduled for April 13.

"The book is an adaptation of my thesis. When I did my master's I decided to adapt it to a book during the pandemic," she said.

She graduated in 2018.

Lady Montano believes her son is not done yet, and has her sights set on him achieving event more.

Machel is set to headline the upcoming Wi Fete, a joint promotion between GenXS and WiPay, scheduled for Saturday, April 15 at Sabina Park.

By KEVIN JACKSON Observer Writer

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