It was also the first occasion the People’s Partnership Administration released a $2 million prize, with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, accompanied by her husband Gregory and son Kris, on hand to present a replica cheque to new Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai.
The event, themed Evolution, began at about 9 pm and opened with a spectacular fireworks show which was followed by a 35-minute choreographed musical piece with performances by exotic dancers, African dancers accompanied by drummers and a pair of Chinese dragons.
But it was during the break following the performances by the 15 artistes vying for the crown that the massive crowd was given a taste of the extempo prowess of Arts and Multiculturalism Minister, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who prompted by Persad- Bissessar, broke out into improvised verses about the soca and chutney artforms.
Earlier, Peters described the competition as the ideal occasion to showcase the country’s multi- cultural society.
“It is when we see occasions like this in Trinidad and Tobago that we know that our multi-cultural society is intact, what we do know is that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have something to teach the world,” said Peters.
“We have taken the music that evolve from India, the music that evolve from Africa and we have fused them together and tonight we have created what is our own Trinbagonian music,’ he said, and sang the verse, “Calypso and chutney, that’s the way to go, so Trinidad and Tobago, we love you for so.”
Peters also reiterated the country’s economic survival would have to rely on its cultural heritage and musical diversity when the days of oil and gas come to an end.
And it was soca superstar, Machel Montano, who during his guest performance called Persad-Bissessar and members of her entourage on stage and serenaded her with the late reggae icon Bob Marley’s classic “Waiting in vain.”
He again thanked the Government for its support for local artistes.
Southex CEO George Singh, promoter of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition, and Caribbean Prestige Foundation executive chairman William Munro, promoter of the International Soca Monarch competition also praised the Prime Minister for sponsoring $2 million prizes for the winners.
Meanwhile, offering congratulations to Rikki Jai yesterday was Oropouche East MP and Minister of Housing, Dr Roodal Moonilal who, during a walkabout in the Union Hall housing estate yesterday described the Chutney Soca Monarch as the “comeback kid”.
Rikki Jai lives in Moonilal’s constituency.
“It’s great, for many of us, he is the comeback kid, many thought that he had passed this stage and there were younger people in the business who could pose a challenge but Rikki has demonstrated enormous tenacity, enormous commitment to the art form,” Moonilal said.
“And it’s a fitting tribute to him and on behalf of the constituency of Oropouche East, I want to say that in his honour we will now call it Oropouche East — the home of Chutney,” he added.
A number of government members also attended the competition including Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan; Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh; Minister of the People and Social Development, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George, Public Administration Minister Rudrawatee Ramgoolam and San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray.