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...Artistes criticise judging

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

SIX-time Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai was among several artistes who criticised the judging system used to determine the winner at the competition on Saturday night.

Jai said too much emphasis was being placed on text voting and suggested that artistes be judged on their stage presentation.

The 2013 Lotto Plus Chutney Soca Monarch was judged by 70 per cent text voting and 30 per cent judges marks. Jai placed second in the competition.

Raymond Ramnarine who returned to the competition after 13 years, emerged the winner. He was rewarded with a $1 million first prize.

Ramnarine, a crowd favourite, was accompanied by the Shiv Shakti dancers and Peter Minshall's creations Tan Tan and Saga Boy.

Jai said, "My personal take on this is to turn it around and make it 30 per cent text, and 70 per cent judging. This will bring the stage back on a level playing field. It gives artistes a chance to be judged on their performance on stage."

Jai said newcomers were at a disadvantage. In previous competitions, artistes were selected solely by text votes from fans.

"They may have a great performance, but it will be difficult for them because the more experienced artistes would have an advantage over them because of their fan base. It is unfair to the younger people. I have been singing for 25 years so my fan base is wide. So is Raymond Ramnarine, who came into the competition as a favourite because of his fan base," he said. But Ramnarine's brother and manager of Dil-e-Nadan, Richard Ramnarine disagreed.

"Kenneth Salick was a newcomer when he entered the competition and won in 2009. I like to use him as an example. No one knew who he was. But he came in with a powerful song and beat out many experienced artistes," he said.

Adesh Samaroo, who failed to place in the top ten, said he too was disappointed in the judging system.

"Firstly, I want to say congrats to Raymond Ramnarine. What he did, and the crowd's response he got, I have never experienced that before in a Chutney Soca Monarch. It was a well deserved first place. But I do not agree with some of the other results. I don't understand how the judges came up with points. We still don't know how many text votes we got. I support all competitions with text voting, but I do not agree with it," he said.

Samaroo said although he participated in competitions judged by text messaging, he was against the practice.

"People get to text before seeing the performance. There are a lot of ways to beat the system. I agree that texting should be part of the competition, but not to determine the winner. It can be used for a people's choice award. Imagine I text for myself before I went on stage. Let's say something happens and an artiste cannot perform but he has the biggest song, then he will still win because of the text system," Samaroo said.

Dethroned Chutney Soca Monarch Kris "KI" Persad was reluctant to comment on the judging.

"All I can say is that I think it was a good monarch and I had a good time," he said.

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