Reigning Calypso Monarch wins National Chutney Competition 2013
By Rehana Ashley Ahamad
Mashramani 2013 kicked off on Saturday evening last with its National Chutney Competition which was held at the National Culture Centre, and saw the first ever Afro-Guyanese winning the first prize and a chance to compete in the much anticipated International Chutney/ Soca Monarch Competition in Trinidad and Tobago for TT$1M.
Young Bill Rogers, the reigning Calypso Monarch copped the first place prize of $550,000, a trophy, and is guaranteed US $10,000 for representing Guyana in the Twin-Island Republic.
Roger’s performance was about a man coming from India to sing a chutney song for his “larki” (Hindi word for girl).
His song was titled “Chutney for my larki”.
He was the only African Guyanese who performed last Saturday and judging from the reaction of the audience it was soon clear that he was one of the favourites to cart off the crown.
However when his name was announced as the winner, it was greeted with some amount of displeasure by some who had their own choice.
After being named the winner a few minutes before midnight, Young Bill Rogers told the media that he is very much elated, especially since it was a different genre of music that he is accustomed to.
He explained that he has always been a fan of chutney music. While this is his first time competing in the Mashramani Chutney Competition, Rogers had participated in two other competitions before.
He has promised to up his game as he heads to Trinidad and Tobago for the International Chutney/ Soca Monarch Competition slated for January 26.
“I’ll have to up my game because the Trinidadians are very competitive…even in their own country. I’ll have to have extra armory to go over there and do my thing. But I am well prepared for it…I have many chutney tapes home and I have been looking at Chutney for a long time,” Roger’s said.
Fiona Singh copped the second spot with her song- “Jam”. It was one of the better performances of the
night. Accompanied by some energetic dances and colourful costumes, Singh who took home $350,000, was able to create hype among the audience.
Haresh Singh, the defender of the Chutney Monarch 2012 title, came in third place, winning $200,000. His piece was also a very colourful performance titled “Samantha”.
Best New Face prize went to “Vanita”- a Mandir Singer.
Sixteen contestants backed by the Shakti Strings Band, led by young talent- Avinash Roopchand, entered the competition with high hopes, but like every year and like every competition, the coveted first place goes to just one person.
Singing before a panel of volunteer judges, the first half of the competition started off with Enmore resident- Padmawattie Narine doing “Just a young girl wanting to get married”. The first half of the two segmented programme ended with well-known singer attached to the Shakti Strings Band- Aamir Khan performing ‘Big Time Lover’, a performance that was well received by the relatively small audience.
The second half of the competition commenced with Denis Tatpaul doing “Mashramani Time”; Dennis Damar Singh with “Ban Karila Romal”; Harvey Gobin with “Dularie Gal”; Joyce Harris with “Mashramani Fever”; Rajesh Dubraj with “Come leh we sing and dance’; Suraj Narine with his song titled “Plenty Fire”; Pooran Seeraj with “Jheera”; Norman Seeram with his entry “Hay Mamee”; Paramdai Willie with “My Guyana Chutney” and Steven Ramphal performing “All de ghals”.
Coming to the end of the programme, the crowd became hyped, with persons getting on their feet, waving their flags and gyrating to “No Curfew”, a sassy performance by JP who was accompanied by the Ishara Dancers.
Many in the crowd seemed to have been certain that after enjoying JP’s performance that much, he would have been declared the winner. However, Pharous was not even given a prize.
In 2012, Guyana’s Soca Chutney king Haresh Singh, Guyanese Baboo Terry Gajraj, and Fiona Singh, participated in the T & T Soca Monarch competition and were placed among the top 10. Gajraj placed sixth; Fiona Singh seventh; and Haresh Singh tenth.