Taking the spotlight as lead vocalist of a music band and ultimately delighting large audiences across the world was nothing but a thought for emerging entertainer KI Persad (Veeshal Kris Persad) eight years ago. He had just graduated from high school in Toronto, Canada, and immediately joined his father Veerendra Persad as a keyboardist with the band JMC 3Veni. While on tour, he developed a greater appreciation for the critical role of the frontline vocalist as it related to audience appeal and impact. He turned to his father wondering if either of them would ever get the chance to take on that role. The conversation ended with a chuckle and the topic was never revisited. Five years later, KI emerged as the band’s frontline vocalist and today the reigning Chutney Soca Monarch and now $1 million richer for his music and performing efforts. “I’m 25 now. I’ve only been singing for two-and-a-half years as a professional singer, not knowing that after two-and-a-half years I would be able to win the Chutney Soca Monarch. “The feeling is priceless. There are so many people to say thanks to, so many things to say. Being a part of T&T and being from T&T, it means a lot to me. We are a small twin island nation, our culture and our people internationally is so big. Our presence internationally is so big,” KI told Sunday Vibe. “My entire band, we travel the world annually representing our culture along with all the other bands from T&T and all other artistes. Our music is so big out there. Being Chutney Soca Monarch gives me a title to go out there and truly represent, on a whole different level. It had a bigger impact than being an artiste with a song that captivated audiences.”
A musical bridge
Apart from the signature prize, the young song writer also clinched the top awards for Song of the Year—Single Forever; and the Most Outstanding Male Performer. Citing these top achievements, KI wanted entertainers for whom fortune has not yet struck, not to lose faith but to remain positive and persistent. Even though his presence in the spotlight was constant, there are those among us who often enquired if he had a profession. His trademark response to that is: “Almighty God gave me a profession that I share with everyone.
“We are all construction workers. You know why? God put us here to build the bridge between our culture, our people and the world.”
A tribute to heroes
He might come across as carefree at times, but KI certainly knows when to wise-up and salute his seniors. Rikki Jai (Samraj Jaimungal), Drupatee Ramgoonai, his father (Veerendra Persad) and the late Sundar Popo were the forerunners in this genre of music who KI has showered with kudos. “It might seem easy to go on a stage and jump and dance, but it really takes a lot out of you to go out and represent who you are and your people. Just being one person in front of one million, two million people, it really takes a lot,” he explained.
Friends not fans
While entertainers the world over commonly used the word fans to describe their support base, KI, preferred to classify this much needed group of support as “friends.” “I never use the word fans. I always use the word friends. There is no such thing as a fan, no followers. We have friends. We have people who just support and enjoy what we do.” Winning the Chutney Soca Monarch prize was not enough for KI. His hit selection titled Single Forever is said to have been written into T&T music history being the most played song during Carnival 2012. Using a mathematical definition to explain chutney soca music’s effect, he said: “What we are doing right now, we are creating an equation. We are taking variables from each and every one of us and creating an equation and solving it, and that final answer is just what we need to take our music all over the world, just like soca music.”
Next stop, Soca Monarch
KI was still settling into his role as reigning Chutney Soca Monarch, but he has made public his ambitions to enter the race for the Digicel International Soca Monarch title. He was caught by the bug when William Munro, executive chairman at Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts invited him to deliver a guest performance on Fantastic Friday at the Digicel International Soca Monarch Competition and Play Whe Groovy Monarch Competitions held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. “That stage is different and I will learn it better for next year,” said KI, laughing.
Honour thy father...
Any doubt about KI being a loveable guy was put to rest when he started speaking about his family. He showered love onto his mother and siblings, but with it came to his father, they had a relationship which many fathers and sons could only dream. “Dad, I love you so much with all my heart. This is for you. My kids will do it for me, hopefully, if I have kids soon, because I don’t want to be single forever,” he said, laughing.