|Chutney’s new twist |
By SEETA PERSAD Tuesday, January 13 2009
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THE PUBLIC will choose the next Chutney Soca Monarch. The winner will be chosen through text message via b-mobile, according to Southex CEO, George Singh, organiser of the annual competition.
“The winner of this year’s competition will be determined by the amount of votes they receive after their performance,” Singh explained.
This new twist in the biggest chutney competition of the Carnival season will be put to the test during the finals of the event scheduled for February 7 at Skinner Park, San Fernando. The theme, Festival Night of the Stars, will set the mood for a night filled with exciting performances, with the country’s top ten artistes battling for the coveted title.
However, the public will not get a chance to cast votes for reigning monarch Rooplal Girdharie — he has opted out of the competition, saying he is taking a break from the competitive stage. Girdharie has won the title five times.
However, competition is expected to be keen, with another five-time winner, Rikki Jai, expected to be in the mix this year. Rikki Jai returned to the chutney competition in 2007 after an absence of four years. In 2003 when he tied with Heeralal Rampartap for the title, he was unhappy that the first prize had to be divided into two. Disheartened at the judge’s decision, Rikki Jai stepped out of the competition giving way to Girdharie, who won in 2004.
Chutney veteran Heeralal Rampartap, who has won the title three times, is also expected to compete. He won the competition in 2005.
Other top contenders include Kenneth Salick, who already has one of this season’s chutney hits with “Radica Why Yuh Leave and Gone”. Synergy Chutney Star winner Rajin Dhanraj, who automatically qualified for the final, will be doing his hit song “Go Nah”. Rick Ramoutar, who placed second to Dhanraj in the Synergy Chutney Star competition, is also expected to make a strong showing in the Chutney Monarch competition this year. His hot songs are “Khabhi Nah Kabhi”, “She Belting She Waist” and “Cool Down the Place”.
Adesh Samaroo, best known for his mega hit “Rum Till I Die”, has entered the fray with “You Doh Even Know Yuhself” and has also released his first soca tune, “Soca Wine Down”. Chutney fans are also looking forward to the 2009 offerings from Hunter (Lalchan Babwa), who scored a mega hit last year with “Bring de Rum”, as well as seasoned campaigners Soca Elvis and Artie Butkoon.
Established in 1996, the National Chutney Soca Monarch competition is the annual focus for chutney artistes and the grand finals now attract up to as many as 20,000 fans. Chutney music mixes fast soca beats with sitars and dholaks. Sung in a mixture of Hindi and English, lyrics tend toward the lighthearted.
The NLCB Chutney Soca Monarch competition will kick off on Saturday at the Samar Entertainment Centre, Penal. More than 50 artistes are expected to compete in this year’s event as they vie for top honours in what has become the biggest and most important Indo-Caribbean event on the TT calendar. The semi final round will be held at the Rienzi Complex, Couva, on January 24 with the grand final on February 7 at Skinner Park, San Fernando.
Organisers of the competition say they are offering the largest prize purse in the industry with more than $500,000 being paid out to artistes.