Nailah Blackman Wins 2024 Senior Intellectual Chutney Monarch 

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By Shivana Lal

Nailah Blackman is the winner of the first Senior Intellectual Chutney Monarch of Trinidad and Tobago.

Blackman beat nine contestants to win the first prize of $450,000 for her song “Jam of the Year”.

The competition, which took place at the Mid Centre Mall car park in Chaguanas on Saturday, was hosted by the National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (NCFTT).

President of the NCFTT, Dr Vijay Ramlal Rai, told the Express yesterday he considered the event a great success.

“The competition last night was extremely successful with roughly 10,000 people turning out. It was a really comfortable, happy, joyous event last night, and to see thousands of people really wanting to hear good lyrics with good melody, and dancing and partying with it,” he said during a phone interview.

The NCFTT, Rai explained, was established by the Parliament, through Act No. 6 of 2000, and required the foundation to “do all things possible to develop the art form in different ways”. He said Saturday’s Intellectual Chutney and Traditional Chutney Monarch was instrumental in furthering the goals of the NCFTT.

“The competition now has a new category of the art form (chutney) called ‘Intellectual Chutney’, and it has proven exactly what we wanted it to do, which was to bring to the fore this category.

“Now someone could close their eyes and play an Intellectual Chutney. It doesn’t mean textbook kind of lyrics, and it doesn’t mean no melody. It’s very rhythmic. It is in keeping with the art form, but the lyrical content – a message, and in some cases discussing relevant topics, national or international – and this is what we wanted the art form to start doing,” he added.

Rai said the new category in the competition was born from the Schools Intellectual Chutney Monarch, which is a joint effort between the NCFTT and the Ministry of Education.

However, the senior competition included many new faces to the event. One such individual was the winner, Blackman, who Rai said has positively impacted the competition.

“It was historical because it was the first time she (Nailah) ventured into the Indo aspect of performing songs. I think with somebody like Nailah Blackman winning (the competition) with extreme support from the audience, made us aware that people do want to hear good things. They do want to hear the message in something.

“She overwhelmed the audience, and I can’t even start to describe how people were reacting. I always say she has the grandfather’s DNA,” he continued.

As the granddaughter of calypsonian Ras Shorty I, Blackman hooked the audience with her performance of her grandfather’s iconic “Om Shanti” lyrics during her presentation, Rai said.

Saturday’s event also included the Traditional Chutney category of the competition, Rai added. Singing “Mowsie Rasooiyea Halwa”, Rakesh Yankaran emerged the victor among the pool of ten contestants and claimed the prize of $400,000.

In this category, performers are required to sing in either Hindi or Bhojpuri and perform the songs to instruments such as the “harmonium, dantaal, and drum”, Rai explained.

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