Patrice Roberts leads TnT’s 61st birthday concert at CNE Bandshell

Patrice Roberts

Patrice Roberts had to make a tough choice last Thursday – should she come to Toronto and perform outdoors at the CNE Bandshell, or should she fly to New York City to attend the inaugural Caribbean Music Awards?

Patrice chose Toronto, and the city is delighted that she did! Thursday marked Soca Night at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), where the Trinidad and Tobago singer headlined a special Soca concert at the Bandshell. It was an evening dedicated to celebrating the art form and marking Trinidad’s 61st birthday.

As for the Caribbean Music Awards, their loss was Toronto’s gain. While Patrice was on stage performing for an estimated 6,000 people, she was named the Female Artist of the Year, and her music video “Mind My Business” won the SOCA Video of the Year Award.

The skimpy chic leather-clad singer never stopped singing, and neither did the audience. When Patrice started singing “Mind My Business,” the audience, who seemed to know every word of every one of her songs, shouted and sang along the loudest during the one-hour concert. Red, black, and white were waved on high (and there were a lot of green, yellow, and black in the air). It’s hard to tell who was more tired when it all ended: the crowd that continued to grow throughout the show or the 37-year-old performer.

While many thought it was the show that should have been staged during the Toronto International Carnival, there were some CNE issues. The sound quality wasn’t good, and according to one social media poster, there should have been more people there!

Patrice Roberts fans at the CNE

“Is it just me, or has the CNE done a horrible job of marketing the Patrice Roberts and Dr. Jay appearance tonight?” posted Stephanie Hinds on Facebook, “Nothing on their Twitter, and the email communications I get are all promoting mainly White music acts.”

Patrice Roberts wasn’t the only act that night. The Prince of Soca, Dr. Jay, not only acted as the warm-up DJ but also served as the MC for Patrice’s performance. He had two Mas-costumed models from the Saldenah band dancing on stage, followed by a trio of Socasize instructors who got everyone dancing from the start to the finish of their soca-inspired exercise routine (except me). The warm-up act, Earl LaPierre Jr., had the audience calling for more from the Toronto pannist but he had to leave the stage to make room for the next act.

Now that the CNE is over, the bean counters are busy counting. No estimates have been given as to the size of the Soca Night concert, but in a statement on Friday, organizers anticipate that the total attendance for the two-plus-week fair will exceed the 1.56 million seen in 2022.