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TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott

bmobile supports new International Chutney Soca Monarch show format

TSTT Corporate Communications

Press Release

The International Chutney Soca Monarch takes on an exciting new format this year, with a delayed-live broadcast across several platforms and media stations and a dramatic increase in foreign participation too. The decision to continue the competition was made very early on to support the culture and the artistes in a year that has impacted both significantly. The semi-final leg of the well-established competition was held on Wednesday 27th January 2021 at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (South NAPA). It will be aired on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st January 2021.

Another aspect of the show this year is the inclusion of the Text to Vote element which is powered by bmobile. This will form part of the official judges' points instead of a separate People's Choice award. Votes from around the globe will account for up to 20% of the performers' final points and will open from 6am on Saturday 30th January and continue until Tuesday 2nd February 2021. This year, the show features an unprecedented number of global entries, with eight of the thirty-six semi-finalists coming from non-T&T territories.

Gerard Cooper, General Manager Shared Services at TSTT noted that the company was happy to partner with the Chutney Soca Monarch team in finding a way to adapt and innovate on the show. "The CSM is viewed by a vast audience not just in T&T or among the diaspora but in corners of the world that would surprise many people to learn. The Chutney artform is something that has emerged in a unique way out of our history and bmobile is proud to leverage our technology and resources to continue to shine a spotlight on it at a time when most of these performers would also have not had the chance to share new releases and new work with their audiences in this way. The addition of the Text to Vote which we are supporting also adds a new layer of interaction for the audience and the inclusion in the final judges' point system is one we are happy to see," he added.

According to the founder of the competition, George Singh, the Prime Minister's decision to cancel Carnival was an expected one - but it created an opportunity to bring something new to the table." Over the past few years, when we have been looking at the online audiences for many Carnival shows, we have noticed an exponential increase relative to audiences that physically attend the shows. Creating an online-centric show was something that we had been considering for some time, and this was the time and opportunity to do it," he explained. There was another reason behind wanting to pursue a new format too. "This year, we appointed representatives in New York, Toronto and Guyana - to bring artistes in these territories on board. Instead of having to travel, this year the registrants would have submitted their performances for screening and once selected, they would have performed and recorded their selection according to our guidelines and sent to us for inclusion in the show."

The new format of the show was well-received by artistes who attended and performed at South NAPA. Chutney singer, Saleem Beharry better known by his moniker, Master Saleem noted, "The standard has gone to another level this year. This new approach allows us to focus less on the props and the showmanship side and more on the craft in a new way. It also means so much to the artistes that the show was still held, and it speaks volumes about George Singh, the organisers and sponsors, like bmobile," he added. First-time entrant Cherish Ragoonanan was also thrilled to have her opportunity this year. "It has been months since I was able to perform on stage and this is after spending the last few years performing every weekend. So, I was happy to have this opportunity to not just compete but to be able to jump onto a stage, have fun and do what I love the most," she added after her performance. Guyanese artiste, Vanita Willie, was grateful for the new format too, "I never thought to compete in the Chutney Soca Monarch in T&T. From the years of watching it, you see that it's such a big stage and space to perform, but with this new format, you got to focus on performing with four dancers allotted, and it opened it up to my team and me to perform. So, it was a really great feeling to be in this year's competition."

The Semi-Final leg of the International Chutney Soca Monarch competition will air on YouTube Live; the official Chutney Soca Monarch Facebook Page, CNC3 TV and Sangeet Radio 106.1 FM. Viewers can vote locally using the unique text codes for artistes identified during the show. Replays of the show will remain on the social media pages and YouTube channel as well.

Text to Vote Details:
T&T Fans can vote by texting their artiste’s three-digit code to 64726 and International Fans can text their artiste’s code to 1 868 798 0141. Individuals can vote as many times as they like, for any performer they like. Each local text costs $2. Each international text costs $3. Voting starts on Saturday 30th at 6am and ends on Tuesday 2nd February at 6am.

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