Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 14, 2017 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Culture has thrown its support behind the 2016-2017 Power Soca Monarch LAX, as he seeks to capture the crown at the upcoming OECS Soca Competition to be held in Montserrat this Friday, March 17.

A cheque of $6,500 was presented to the young man on Monday (March 13) by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Culture and National Carnival, Honourable Shawn Richards to assist with his participation in the regional competition, which is in its second year.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards wished LAX, whose legal name is Jarez Liburd, the best of luck and encouraged him to make the most of the experience as he will be facing off against the best from the region.

“Use it as an opportunity to see [the] different ways you can better your own craft. Use it as an opportunity to come back to St. Kitts and Nevis and be more energized and willing to spread the soca artform not just here, but elsewhere within the region and beyond,” he said.

The handing over ceremony was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Stanley Knight; Director of Culture, Troy Mills; and the Chairman of the National Carnival Committee, Noah Mills. Chairman Mills thanked the Minister of Culture for the continued support of the carnival winners to participate in regional competitions. He noted that in 2016, the committee was successful in sending nine representatives to participate in regional pageants, calypso and soca competitions. Four of those representatives returned with the crown.

Director of Culture, Troy Mills, shared words of encouragement to LAX and said there may be hidden opportunities.

“I am encouraging you to use the opportunity to really network with not only the artists but perhaps producers, who may very well be there, scouts as it were because they are coming and looking for new talent. They don’t just want to hear about the Machel Montanas and the Destras. They want new untouched talent,” he stated, adding that the popularity of soca has really taken off around the Caribbean.

LAX is expected to perform two songs, “Jackhammer” and “Big Truck” featuring KT aka Jason Kyte.

Director Mills told the young men that they are an inspiration to many persons and that they had the full support of the Department of Culture as they are cultural ambassadors.

LAX was grateful for the words of encouragement and the financial support.

“It’s a good experience for me where I can go out, spread St. Kitts-Nevis music, do collaborations and move forward,” Liburd said, sharing the vision mentioned by Director Mills. He promised the government officials and his fans that the duo would represent the country well.