DETHRONED: Kris "KI" Persad is lifted off the stage following his performance of "Friends for the night" in the Chutney Soca Monarch final. Defending champion Persad placed third.


Raymond takes Chutney Soca crown

By Carolyn Kissoon

Raymond Ramnarine, leader of the band Dil-e-Nadan, has claimed the title of 2013 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch.

He won the $1 million first prize with a performance that was hailed as spectacular on Saturday night at Skinner Park, San Fernando.

Ramnarine, who returned to the competition after 13 years, dethroned Kris "KI" Persad, who had to settle for third place.

Rikki Jai, six-time Chutney Soca Monarch, placed second with his song "Ent yuh know".

Ramnarine performed in seventh position and was accompanied on stage by the Shiv Shakti dancers.

The crowd sang every word of Ramnarine's runaway hit "I ain't marriding no more". And on his command they chanted: "Raymond, Raymond".

Spectators were in a frenzy when Ramnarine invited "Trinidad and Tobago's most popular couple" on stage and Peter Minshall's creations Tan Tan and Saga Boy danced to Ramnarine's hit—which became the most requested chutney soca song on the airwaves in recent weeks.

And when Ramnarine included a verse that he would emerge chutney soca king, the fans went wild.

As he exited the stage, patrons continued chanting "Raymond, Raymond", making it clear that the night belonged to Ramnarine.

The competition was judged both manually and by text messaging.

At the end, Ramnarine tallied an overall total of 43.7 points, while Jai accumulated 42.6 points.

The runner-up, who received $300,000, was accompanied by tassa drums and pan during his powerful presentation.

KI, who descended on the stage on a zip line to perform his song "Friends for the night", received 33.7 points and $200,000.

As the results were being announced at around 4 a.m, the patrons became anxious. They began chanting "Raymond, Raymond" long before Ramnarine was named the winner.

Ramnarine, in tears, walked calmly to the front of the stage and thanked his thousands of screaming fans.

"When I entered Chutney Soca Monarch, I didn't care about the money. I did this for my people, my culture and about moving forward. I would serve my people and uplift my culture to the highest," he said before kissing the stage.

The celebrations continued on stage as Ramnarine was joined by his wife Niala, brothers Rennie and Richard and members of his band.

He was congratulated by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Southex chief executive officer George Singh, the show's promoter.

Ramnarine, who also topped the semi-final round of the competition, told reporters: "I came into Chutney Soca Monarch not thinking about the bright lights and the big stage. Now the journey has just started. I have to deliver now.

"I want to go out and I really want to inspire the young ones. I couldn't have asked for anything more from these loyal fans that I have in Skinner Park. I am lost for words right now."

Ramnarine said support from his fans, endless prayers and blessings from his parents contributed to his success.

"I had my deya lighting and I was praying for God to protect me and guide me through this. And God has blessed me. I said that 2013 is going to be a much happier year."

Ramnarine said he intends to visit schools, promoting culture. And he wants to use part of his winnings to help the underprivileged.

2013 2013 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch results: 1. Raymond Ramnarine – 43.7 points 2. Rikki Jai – 42.6 points 3. Kris "KI" Persad – 33.7 points 4. Kenneth Supersad – 25.5 points 5. Drupatee Ramgoonai – 23.9 points 6. Anil Bheem – 22.9 points 7 (tie). Rick Ramoutar and Lalchan "Hunter" Babwah – 22.5 points 9. Prophet Benjamin – 22.2 points 10 (tie). Omadath Maraj and Sally Sagram – 21.2 points 12. Saleem "Stinky"Beharry – 21.2 points

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