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Give props to KI Persad for turning a tragic story into $2 million. The lyrics to KI’s hit song Runaway tell a sad tale: “Last year I went on tour but I did not want to stay, so I leave my band to play, and when I came back, my wife run away.” But just as in the semi-final, KI flipped the tragically romantic number, fusing it with a soca beat that had female fans climbing onto the fences to get closer to the stage.
The daring performance started with his arrival on a plane filled with beautiful air hostesses, which signalled that he had just came back from a world tour. The set featured pyrotechnic gloves and climaxed with the champion crowdsurfing on a float. It was his second title in three years. Again, it was no doubt his energetic and theatrical stageshow that scored high on the judges’ tally and text vote systems.
Emotions ran high for KI, whose eyes became teary as he returned to the stage hoisted on the shoulders of his adoring supporters after he was announced as 2014’s first major monarch. So intense was the competition, KI said, that he was shaking while the results were being announced. In accepting his crown, he had a special message for his fans. “Thank you for making it happen for us and giving us that extra push by actually naming us flag bearers of our culture, to go out there and represent you all.”
He also paid tribute to his father, JMC 3veni leader Verendra Persad, saying the victory was only possible through him.
KI’s was no runaway victory, however. Twenty artistes performed their hearts out on a cold night at Skinner Park, San Fernando, and Persad was listed 19th in the order of appearance. He fought off stiff competition from two former monarchs to cop the title. At the end of the marathon session, his performance was good enough to leave six-time monarch Rikki Jai ( Samraj Jaimungal) and crowd favourite Ravi B (Ravi Bissembhar) sharing $800,000 in a tie for second place.
Coming in finished fourth and fifth respectively were the comical Kenneth Supersad, who sang, The Bull and KI’s fellow JMC 3veni vocalist Nishard Mehru with, Mamy Say. Ravi B generated much excitement during his performance of his popular hit, Bread. Performing first on the night, Ravi B delighted with magic tricks, pyrotechnics and a touching tribute to his mother, Margaret Bissembhar, who appeared on stage with him.
His creative and entertaining presentation featured six dancers dress as bakers, moko jumbie bakers, walking slices of bread that formed a loaf. Even fans in the audience waved loaves of bread and bags of buns while gyrating throughout his performance.
It seemed that those who had the best stage performances were favoured as Rikki Jai‘s performance celebrated local culture. His portrayal included East Indian and Chinese Dancers together with a choir. His song and presentation was a tribute to the chutney soca art form and its performers, even labelling fellow artiste Drupatee Ramgoonai as the chutney queen and Sunday Popo as the Father of Chutney.
In recent years, chutney soca artistes have faced criticism for the lyrical contents of songs as most chose to sing about rum. However, this year’s presentation showed different aspects of local cultures and was laced with picong.
Kenneth Supersad’s The Bull had the crowd laughing more than wining with his connotative song, which explained his quest to find his lost bulls before returning to his farm. First timer Olatunji Yearwood’s double entendre, Fete Ram, was also filled of laughter as he explained his decisions not to attend a fete that his macomere’s (Aunt) male companion was throwing.
Singing, “Too many people in macomere man’s thing,” he had most of the audience in stitches when he sang Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Ravi B, Snakey and KI were “in macomere man’s thing.”
Rick Ramoutar, who included soca artiste Denise Belfon in his performance, sang an entertaining dance song, while Snakey (Heaven Charles) and Sally Sagram served up a raunchy performances to the delight of the audience.
Although many dubbed the show a success, several controversial moments needs to be looked at by the show promoters. At 2.45 am when the final performer Kavita Maharaj walked on to perform, she included her toddler as part of her presentation in the already cold savannah as a stage which included fireworks and haze machines. Both Olatunji Yearwood and Kenneth Supersad were humorously entertaining but some of their comments during the show were bordering on offensive.
Supersad, a comedian, called out a serious of names, suggesting that came looking for bull. Yearwood, who walked out on stage smoking a cigar left some of the homosexual patrons perturbed with his connotation of “macomere man.” Reshma Ramlal, who performed in second position, also sang two minutes of her song with the microphone muted. Despite this, the show was safe and enjoyable with no incidents of violence and safety concerns.