Today’s news:

Ricky Jai cops monarch title

Chutney singer Ricky Jai copped the first TT$2 million prize of the 2011 Carnival season when he took the Chutney Soca Monarch title at Skinner’s Park, South Trinidad last week.

Ricky Jai (Samraj Jaimungal), 42, defeated 14 other competitors to take the title before a massive crowd with a composition “White Oak and Water.”

He dethroned defending monarch Ravi Bissembhar, who took the $100,000 second prize in which the winner was chosen through a text vote system, by local and international audiences in the United States and Canada watching live on State-owned television.

The champion monarch received 18,225 votes, 7,000 more than the 11,187 votes cast for Bissembhar. Another crowd favorite Vesshal K. I. Persad placed third.

Ricky Jai, who has been performing as a chutney soca performer for more than 20 years captured his sixth title having won in l998, l999, 2001, 2002 and tied in 2003 with veteran chutney artiste Heeralal Rampartap.

The chutney monarch announced that he is retiring from Chutney competition and would be throwing his hat in the calypso ring.

There is criticisms about the lyrical content of “White Rum and Water,” with some arguing that the song is degrading to East Indians.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had announced during the May 24 general election campaign last year that she will give $2 million as the first prize for Chutney Monarch, Soca Monarch and steelband panorama winners.

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