The winner's circle in the Carnival Village at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, was a crowded one yesterday, as three winners held the title of Junior Chutney Soca Monarch for 2013.
No stranger to the stage, three-time Junior Calypso Monarch Aaron Duncan, nine, and eight-year-old Nirmala Ramdass Singh tied for first place in the Primary Schools category, each receiving a score of 257 points.
Arindel Seeraj took the top spot in the Secondary Schools category, with a score of 246 points.
Seeraj, from Hillview College, sang "Chutney Love"—a composition he wrote himself.
Dressed all in grey with a blue Mohawk hairstyle, Seeraj called for people to humble themselves, unite and stop domestic violence.
Seeraj, who has been singing chutney for the past two years, said: "I took a week to prepare for this competition. This was my first big gig singing chutney music. It was a good experience and I plan to take chutney music to another level."
Seeraj, 15, walked away with $10,000.
Duncan, from Newtown Boys' RC, dressed in a khaki kurta and burgundy hat, sang "Chutney for Teachers" with quite an energetic performance.
Ramdass Singh, of Mt Pleasant Government, and who dressed from head to toe in red, white and black, sang a composition written by her mother called "My Country".
After performing, Ramdass Singh said: "I feel so good. This is my first time competing."
Duncan and Ramdass Singh, apart from having bragging rights, each collected $8,000.
In the Primary Schools category, N'janela Duncan-Regis and Shackela De Caine tied for second and received $6,000.
Duncan-Regis, from Eshe's Learning Centre, sang "My View", while De Caine, from Ortoire RC, sang "Rataula Gita".
Shane Joseph, from Five Rivers Secondary, copped second place in the Secondary Schools category, with "Unity in Diversity"; while Tenique Beckles, from Couva West Secondary, placed third with her song, "Sweet Chutney Music".
Joseph received $8,000; while Beckles, who also won the People's Choice award with a cash prize of $1,000, earned $7,000 for third place.
Hosted by the National Chutney Foundation, 13 pupils vied for a cashpot totalling $72,000.
The competition, now in its second year, had a change with a winner from each category instead of one overall winner.
Taking note of the influx of rum songs in the chutney soca arena, Dr Vijay Ramlal-Rai, president of the National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, said: "We are not against the party songs, but it is getting to be too distasteful. There are too many negative and alcohol songs being portrayed as the artform... and that is not the artform."
He stressed that chutney music can also be positive and it is important to showcase that to the world, but first "we must provide a strong foundation for the youths".
Reiterating that positive message, chutney soca star Neeshan "The Hitman" Prabhoo sang his 2013 release, "Independent Ladies".
There were also performances by 2012 Schools National Chutney Soca Monarch Anthony Batson and Ramdeen "Falco" Maharaj and Millennium Starz International.