Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 31st 2014 Contents 5
Friday, January 31, 2014 • Issue 125
Tomorrow 43 singers will
compete in the semi final round
of the Chutney Soca Monarch
competition to vie for a place in
the finals and a shot at the title.
But whether they will be going
up against defending champion
Raymond Ramnarine is left to
As of this week, the 2013
Chutney Soca Monarch is uncer-
tain about his future in the com-
"I am on the fence," he told
Metro in an exclusive interview
at his home in Gasparillo.
There are a lot of factors
weighing heavily on Ramnarine's
decision, chief among them out-
standing prize money. Ramnarine
says he is still owed about
$200,000 from his one million
dollars first prize.
He says George Singh, pro-
moter of the event, has promised
that he would be paid next week
and he is waiting to see if that
materialises before making a
Expressing his disappointment
at having to wait so long to col-
lect all of his winnings, Ramnar-
ine says he is displeased.
"This hurting me a lot. This is
my job, my passion. This is what
feeds my family. I sacrificed a lot
for this competition," he says.
He said apart from putting
aside money for his two sons, he
had intentions of starting a chil-
dren's fund with his winnings to
help the less fortunate. He is big
on charity and loves working
with children. He has spent the
last year touring schools, temples
and working with children chari-
ties in remote areas to inspire,
entertain and lecture on the ills
Although he first entered the
competition back in its early
years when he was still a teen,
Ramnarine stayed away from
competing, focusing instead on
performing with his band Dil-E-
Nadan, which is a staple in al-
most every all-inclusive fete.
He says he decided to enter
last year because of his fans,
who felt he had a good shot with
his song I Ain't Marrieding and
also to bring back the chutney in
"Over the last three years I felt
that I was hearing wasn't chut-
ney. Where is the dholak, harmo-
nium, tassa, chantal? At least put
one of the elements in there," he
says, noting that his song started
with a healthy dose of tassa.
"We fused the elements of
chutney and soca. I was getting
fed up and there were concerned
fans. I said I would go up to cre-
ate awareness and this year a lot
more artistes went back to the
dholak and tassa," he says.
A lot of artistes also went back
to using Bollywood playback
music, which, though banned last
year in the competition is now al-
lowed, a move which confuses
"There are a lot of artistes
with original music but how do
you judge the two?"
Ramnarine says even if he
gets his money next week, the
timeframe to prepare for the fi-
nals is tight. Last year he put on
a $300,000 production that in-
cluded an appearance from Peter
Minshall's Tan Tan and Sagaboy.
"For me to bring my "A" game I
must be mentally ready," he
If he does compete, Ramnar-
ine will be doing so with a ditty
called Mosquito. For 2014, he
also has a soca called Trinis Cud
Wine and a chutney song with
veteran singer Rasika Dindial
called Bole Bole.
If nothing else, Ramnarine is
perhaps one of the more versa-
tile singers on the scene with the
ability to sing anything from pop
to classical Indian music.
Dil-E-Nadan, he says, is not a
chutney band but the perfect
Trini band, which can deliver any
kind of music, depending on the
"Look at our culture, how di-
verse. We project that to the
world. Our band is a brand we try
to give to the world."
Ramnarine and his brothers
Rennie (bass player) and Richard
(manager) inherited the band
from their father Ramnarine
Moonilal, who joined Dil-E-Nadan
five years after it was formed 57
years ago by the late Usaf Khan.
Moonilal rose to the rank of
leader and since they were chil-
dren, his three sons have been
Under the guidance of the
Ramnarine brothers, who grew
up in an ethnically diverse village
and listened to all sorts of music,
Dil-E-Nadan evolved into a
crossover musical unit.
Signing with Stag in the height
of the beer wars exposed the
band to soca greats such as
Chandileer, which further in-
spired the band to play soca
"Initially there were those who
questioned why we were doing
that but our flexibility has con-
tributed to our popularity," says
The band, also comprising for-
mer Sound Revolution singer
Derrick Seales and new female
singer Esther Dyer, rehearses al-
most every day at Ramnarine's
residence, which allows them to
always remain fluid.
With the band's Carnival calen-
dar full with performances, Ram-
narine's focus is on fulfilling
those obligations. Come next
week, he will decide if to focus
his attention on defending his
GEORGE SINGH RESPONDS
George Singh, head of Southex,
promoter for the Chutney Soca
Monarch said the responsibility to
pay prize money is the Govern-
ment's and not his.
"If they don't pay it, I can't pay it
and I am not paying it," he said
when Metro contacted him.
Singh said that he revealed in a
press conference last week that
Government gave him $1.8 million
of the $5 million promised and
that money is still owed to other
artistes and service providers.
Asked when Ramnarine would
be paid, Singh said he has been
talking to the Government and
they are working on the problem.
He revealed, however, that
nowhere in Ramnarine's contract
states how much the prize money is.
"It is dependant on what Gov-
ernment gives us, the million dol-
lars was just a proposal."
He also said Ramnarine was not
under any contractual obligations
to defend his title but said he
stands to benefit more if he does
participate in the competition.
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