After a two-year hiatus, the 2018 Carib Soca Monarch was launched at the Department of Culture, Education Ministry.The competition, which is slated for February 10 and 17, will see 15 performers competing for the grand prize of $1.5 million.At the press conference on Monday, Minister with responsibility for culture, Dr George Norton highlighted that the competition will now be under the purview of the Central Mash Committee. Minister Norton also stated that music is the bloodline of the Mashramani festival and urged local deejays and promoters to get involved in the publicising of the competition’s music.Minister with responsibility for culture, Dr George NortonCompetition Coordinator, Nigel Worrell, noted they received a total of 18 entries which was fine-tuned to a total of 15 semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists are Alisha “Sasha Melody” Hamid, Brandon Harding, Colwin “Lil Colwin” Blair, Colwyn “Soca Colwyn” Abrams, Delon “Soca Del” Azore, Diana Chapman, Jonathan “Lil Red” King, Keron “Norek Mas” Sam, Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts, Quacy “Avalanche” Coates, Roger “Young Bill Rogers” Hinds, Roshauna Fraser, Samantha Grant, Shellon “Fluffy” Gally and Stanton “Cardiac” Lewis.These 15 contestants will be heading to the mining town of Linden on February 10 for the semi-final leg of the competition, where five contestants will be eliminated. Then the remaining 10 will head to D’Urban Park in Georgetown to compete for the grand prize on February 17. They will be judged on lyrics, melody, rendition, diction and musical arrangement.The first prize winner will receive $1.5 million, 2nd prize $700,000; 3rd prize $500,000 and 4th prize $400,000. The Ministry is seeking to collaborate with a local telephone company to implement a People’s Choice Award which will see the winner receiving one hundred thousand dollars. The eleven newcomers will all be vying for the US$1000 prize of Best New Comer.