REIGNING Chutney Soca Monarch Raymond Ramnarine is not obligated to defend his title and the show will go on with or without him, according to Southex Promotions chief executive officer, George Singh.
Singh was responding yesterday to Ramnarine’s decision to withdraw from the competition.
Ramnarine has not received his full payment of $1 million.
Speaking at a news conference at Southex Promotions, San Fernando, yesterday, Singh said he was still in discussion with Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr Lincoln Douglas, regarding the outstanding payments.
Ramnarine has announced he would not defend his title as there was no guarantee that he would receive his outstanding $200,000. He was also concerned that artistes were allowed to enter the competition with Bollywood melodies.
Singh was unable to say whether Ramnarine would be paid his outstanding balance but he announced this year’s winners would receive bigger prizes than last year.
“I know Cabinet has agreed to the amount in principle which was proposed. What was proposed is a bigger prize structure than last year. I believe the official announcement will come from the minister’s office at some point,” he said.
He said the contract does not state that Ramnarine was obligated to defend his title.
“It is totally up to him. We have been communicating with him on a constant basis. We sent messages to him last week, giving a deadline to indicate whether he would defend. There was no response,” he said.
Singh said Ramnarine’s withdrawal would not affect the competition.
“It is his choice whether he wants to defend or not. It’s not an obligation. Chutney Soca Monarch at the end of the day goes on and it will happen on February 15, with or without Raymond Ramnarine,” he said.
Singh said the incident involving Ramnarine was unfortunate. “What happened in 2013 was very unfortunate (but) we were not the only Carnival interest group that suffered a cut in funding in 2013,” he said.
Singh said this year’s prize money would be paid directly to the winners by the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism. “That is something they have done before and I prefer that because if money comes to us it shows up as income which sometimes creates a problem for us too. We don’t have a problem with that,” he said.
Singh said the finals, which will be held at Skinner Park, San Fernando, will pay tribute to chutney singer Rajin Dhanraj who died late last year.
“He was one of our young superstars that passed very late last year. It is fitting that we do something to honour him. He has been in the finals for many years. He won the chutney star show. I have seen him develop from a young artiste on stage having a real impact and it was truly a great loss,” he said.
Singh also responded to Ramnarine’s concern about entering competitions with Bollywood melodies. “There is a very limited amount of Bollywood sampling. If you wanted to talk about sampling in general, people need to not only look at Bollywood samples but sampling of songs from other genres ... even chutney sampling,” he said.
Singh said the finals would be judged both manually and by text and online voting.
Artistes would be judged on rhythm, singing technique, lyrics, presentation, cross-over, impact and originality.
Singh announced that for the first time in the history of the competition, 20 artistes were selected for the final round.