Machel Montano at Nathan Phillips Square - July 2014

Every now and then there is an exquisite Toronto summer moment that makes living in this city feel so good! Fortunately, we have been spoiled, because each and every year there are always a few high-profile artists that perform for free at one of the many outdoor venues in the GTA. I've seen reggae and soca artists galore, to the backdrop of the CN Tower, Lake Ontario, or luscious park area.

Last year, for example, I had a fabulous time taking in Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons and Kardinal Offishall in Mississauga's Celebration Square. On Saturday, July 12 I had the honour of celebrating the one-year countdown to Toronto's Pan Am games at Nathan Phillips Square with the king of soca, Machel Montano.

Being involved so heavily with the Toronto Carnival festivities has its perks. Getting to experience carnival from all sides is definitely exhilarating, and it is essentially what the summer is designed for. The costumes, the events, the boat rides, and the preparation all comes together in a unique celebration of Caribbean culture.

Members of our Toronto Revellers team were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go on stage with Machel, modelling some of our costumes. I gathered with them backstage as they got dressed, applied makeup and jewels, and adorned their headpieces. I waited off-stage with them as we took in the Machel show up-close-and-personal with the rest of the show's crew and event personnel.

Here's a brief video I put together of the exciting Revellers' experience:

When their moment came, the Revellers joined Machel as he performed Destra's "It's Carnival" along with his special guest, Patrice Roberts. They looked breathtaking, full of energy, vibrance, and of course excitement to be sharing the stage with THE soca artist of all artists.

I've seen Machel perform numerous times. In fact, there isn't a year that passes that I don't see him perform live either here, or in Miami. But this time was special. Underneath Toronto City Hall, on a beautiful warm summer night, surrounded by thousands of my peers, soca/carnival enthusiasts and faces I've grown up with for the past 36 years in the city. This time was spectacular because it was the culmination of the costume designer's hard work, the model's professionalism, and the energy and anticipation of the upcoming carnival all combined into an amazing night.

Performances happen all the time. Many of these artists frequent Toronto at least 2-3 times a year, and we easily become accustomed to their talents and availability. But every now and then there is a show that everyone attends, everyone enjoys, and everyone contributes to the environment of good energy and vibes. The Pan Am celebration was definitely one of those nights!

Here's a video I put together of the footage from the evening:


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