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Ramnarine not defending Chutney Soca title

...Peeved over prize short pay, Bollywood melodies

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

“I WILL NOT DEFEND.”
Those were the final words of reigning Chutney Soca Monarch, Raymond Ramnarine, yesterday.
And his decision was not based solely because he did not receive his full payment of $1 million for winning the 2013 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch.
Ramnarine said he was disappointed that chutney artistes were being qualified to enter a local competition using Bollywood melodies.
Ramnarine said he had no incentives to defend his title this year, as he was unable to accomplish his dreams after winning the competition.
He was paid $800,000.
Ramnarine said he was informed by Southex Promotions chief executive officer, George Singh, that he would receive the outstanding money. But almost a year later, the balance was not paid.
The $1 million first prize was sponsored by the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism.
Singh said he had not received the total amount promised by the ministry and was unable to pay the artistes in full. He said all artistes in winners row were paid part of their prize money.
Singh said last month this year’s competition was in jeopardy as funding was not yet confirmed by the ministry. But days later, he announced, that the show will go on following discussions with the minister.
Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas told the Express last week that his ministry had met its obligations to the promoter and he was not responsible for outstanding payments.
Ramnarine, leader of the band Dil-e-Nadan said, “I am not giving up the good fight. My question is, who is to be blamed for this scandal?”
Ramnarine said he was holding on to promises that he would receive his outstanding money.
Ramnarine said he had planned to host charity shows and promote traditional chutney music during his reign. And he was excited about launching a children’s foundation “Ray of Sunshine”.
Ramnarine said he was able to visit schools to promote culture and attended some charity events. But he was unable to start his own foundation to assist needy children.
“This is what I was really looking forward to doing. This was my heart’s desire. I thought I would use part of the money and do this foundation. But I was unable to do it and this has me really upset. I went into the competition with this on my mind and when I couldn’t do it I felt really disappointed. That is why I don’t feel the vibes to defend my title,” he said.
He said his presentation in the 2013 event was estimated at $400,000. “And all my expenses were paid, even the last person who brought a bottle of water for me on the stage was paid in full,” he said.
Ramnarine said he was excited about entering this year’s competition with his runaway hit songs “Mosquito” and “Bole Bole”.
But the return of Bollywood melodies to the competition has left the entertainer disappointed.
“This is something that has plagued the industry and concerned artistes. Chutney lovers have expressed their dissatisfaction about it. Where is the creativity? How would you be able to judge an artiste with a total original song, compared to one with a Bollywood melody?
“Taking any melody and being creative is okay but it should not be allowed in a competition. It should be about originality,” he said.
Ramnarine, who returned to the competition after 13 years, dethroned Kris “KI” Persad, who had to settle for third place last year.
Rikki Jai, who has won the competition multiple times, placed second.
Ramnarine created a stir when he announced he was entering the competition last year. He topped the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the competition.
Ramnarine’s winning performance included Peter Minshall’s creations Tan Tan and Saga Boy.
The semi-final round of the competition was hosted last weekend at Rienzi Complex, Couva, where 43 artistes battled for a spot in the finals which takes place on February 15. The finalists will be announced today.
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