CHUTNEY SOCA BATTLE
By SEETA PERSAD Monday, February 3 2014
Forty-three artistes in the soca and chutney soca arena mounted the stage at Rienzi Complex, Couva in a musical battle for a place in the finals of the 2014 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch competition.
Accompanied by back-up singers and dancers, these artistes each gave tremendous performances in a show that began at 8 pm, on Saturday, ending early yesterday morning.
The Chutney Soca Monarch semi-finals heralded the start of many competitions for Carnival 2014, with the International Soca Monarch, Panorama, Calypso Monarch all due to take place this month and the first weekend of March, ahead of the Parade of the Bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday (March 3, 4).
The first winner of Carnival will be crowned at the Chutney Soca Monarch final on February 15 at Skinner Park, San Fernando. The opening act of last Saturday’s semi-final round was Jerry Singh, singing “Brand New Second Hand” followed by Vedesh Sookoo’s performance of “Pack yuh clothes and go”.
Thousands of patrons witnessed the seven-hour show featuring some of the biggest names in soca, among them Rikki Jai (Samraj Jaimungal), a six-time Chutney Soca Monarch, and a former Young King of calypso.
Rikki Jai teamed up with pop/rock musician Nigel Rojas for “Clap your hands”, a tribute to stalwarts of chutney soca. Rojas collaborated with Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) on last year’s international award-wining “Differentology”.
It would be an evening of collaborations featuring local and regional acts, such as young Saleem Beharry’s duet with reigning Soca Monarch of Grenada Mr Killa (Hollis Mapp) on “Breakin d rules”.Mr Killa is steaming up the fete circuit with his hit “Rolly Polly”. Jamaican dancehall star Kemar Lyrikal teamed up with Veekash Sahadeo for “Doh vex if yuh ex with a next”, while TT soca diva Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon accompanied Rick Ramoutar for “Dheen Ta Na”.
Among the soca and calypso stars entering the competition were two-time Road March and former International Soca Monarch winner, Shurwayne Winchester, Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) and Crazy (Edwin Ayoung).
Ravi Bissembhar, a former Chutney Soca Monarch, who opted out of competition last year was back with a bang, performing his cross-over hit “Bread”.
KI Persad had the crowd eating out of his hands for his performance of “Professor Feter”, and veteran in the art of chutney music Anand Yankaran was back in the limelight after an absence of nearly a decade.
Promoter George Singh said he was amazed by the quality of the performances and the number of cross-over acts taking part in the competition.
“This is first year in the nineteen years of competition that we have seen so many soca artistes embracing chutney music,” he said, adding the music was evolving and reached a wider cross-section of people the world over. He noted there were competitors from several countries including the United States, Canada, Guyana and Switzerland.
On the topic of prize money, Singh said he remained confident Government will sponsor the $1 million for the first prize. He had previously threatened to not stage the semifinals of the competition after a dispute over funding with Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas, who has since said Cabinet has to approve final allocations for Carnival.
In the interim, he was successful in signing a new sponsor El Dorado Rum, distributed by Brydens. This major event for Carnival is sponsored in part by NLCB, NCC, Guardian Media Limited, Blink/bmobile, Carib Brewery Limited, KFC, Edoo’s Welding, Firepower Fireworks and the Ministry of Arts And Multiculturalism.
Singh said the names of the 15 finalists will be released tomorrow at 10 am. The finalists will go up against defending Chutney Soca Monarch Raymond Ramnarine for the 2014 crown at Skinner Park in the next two weeks.
With the theme “More than an Event”, Singh said the competition showcased the talent of the country.
“An entire industry has been built around this event over the last eighteen years,” Singh stated, adding millions of people all over the world will tune in this year to view the Chutney Soca Monarch final which will be broadcast live on CNC 3 and streamed on the Internet via “bpartofit.com”. Fans voting by texts will help determine the winner along with judges at the final.