Being called up as a last-minute replacement for Machel Montano at the midday concert at Woodford Square recently did not deter the pint-sized dynamo, a relatively new kid on the block, Kris Veeshal Persad (simply KI).
KI put on a sterling performance that had the crowd jumping, waving and swaying to the rhythms of sweet soca and chutney soca music.
Such are the large footsteps he has successfully followed since he skyrocketed into the soca arena with his huge crossover soca chutney hit Single Forever last year, followed by his also very popular Friends for the Night, for 2013.
Unfazed by the stardom and the large footsteps of people like Rikki Jai, Drupatee, Ravi B and Raymond Ramnarine—crossover artistes in their own rights, the affable KI has attracted a large audience of adoring fans both locally and internationally. He has certainly proved that he can compete with the best in the business.
Son of an established keyboardist, bandleader and producer Veerendra Persad, KI started his entertainment career as a keyboardist at the tender age of eight and has emerged as the lead singer, musician and producer for the band JMC 3veni.
2011 proved to be a record-breaking one for KI, as he was asked to be the opening act for Machel Montano’s Return Concert in Manhattan, New York. He became the first crossover artiste from T&T to perform at the world-renowned Madison Square Garden alongside his band JMC 3veni.
In 2012, KI became the youngest Chutney Soca Monarch with his massive hit Single Forever, and was awarded Chutney Soca Artiste of the year, Song of the Year and Entertainer of the Year at the Chutney Soca Awards, a national award for chutney soca presented by NJAC and endorsed by outgoing President George Maxwell Richards. He has performed in the major carnivals around the world and continues to tour throughout the Caribbean, North and South America and Europe, promoting the music and culture of T&T with his band.
KI placed third in this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch finals but is determined to return to the top position in 2014.
Q: How was your reigning year as chutney monarch?
A: Very hectic, I must say, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Toured a lot internationally, sometimes solo and sometimes with my band 3veni. It was a pleasure flying the flag and representing our Trini and Caribbean culture to the max.
I’ve heard you say that you do not plan to be single forever. But what inspired you to belt out this hit single that took CK12 by storm, and was it your own composition?
Yes, it is my own composition. The inspiration for single forever? Maybe an ex-girlfriend? (laughing)… I love to sing about things that people can relate to.
What inspires you to do what you do?
My passion for music. The one chance I have at life, God put me here to do this. I spend every second of the day living music, making sure that I contribute to the bridge between our music and the rest of the world.
KI? What do those initials stand for? Your name is also Kris…is there a significance to it in terms of background and meaning?
It’s actually a really boring story. A friend of mine called me it years ago in Toronto, randomly. Just decided to stick with it. Boring ent?
Who were the people who have influenced you the most (outside of your family) in your career and in life in general and how did they?
I could write an essay on this, but I’ll keep it music related. All entertainers whose music I’ve gotten the chance to experience. Machel Montano most definitely. His ability to not take no for an answer and always push to the next level has always inspired me.
What advice would you give to anyone contemplating a vocation such as yours?
Positivity and persistence. If you get shut down, keep going, it’ll happen. You just have to want it bad enough, and for the right reasons.
What is your favourite thing about Carnival?
The spirit of our people. I’ve travelled to many different corners of the world, and never met a people that appreciates life the way we do. Oh, also the girls in costumes (laughing).
Of all your performances which would you like a first-time audience to experience?
Chutney Soca Monarch finals 2012. I really got the chance to relax in a tense situation, and do what I do best.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born right here in Trinidad, and spent half of my life growing up in Toronto.
At which schools/institutions did you receive your education?
I attended El Socorro Hindu School, and in Toronto, Chester Public School, John G Diefenbaker Public School, W A Porter Collegiate, and Orea College (Real Estate).
What is an interesting facet of your personality that most people do not know about you?
I cook every single night, I love to cook. Half the time it doesn’t taste too right, nonetheless, it’s still edible (laughs out loudly).
What else would you be if you weren’t an entertainer?
A chef or an actor…if I was good enough!
Who was your hero or idol growing up (fictional or real or both) and why?
Superman. I’m in love with the concept of flying. I admire my parents most today. They’ve really sacrificed a whole lot to give a great life to my brother and I.
What daily motto/credo do you live by and in three words, your recipe for success?
Lord, help me to appreciate the things I have before time forces me to appreciate the things I had.
The three word one is hard. Umm….positive, persistent, hunger.
When and how did you get into entertaining?
Since I was born my entire family has been in music, my dad being the leader of 3veni. When I was eight, my dad taught me to play keyboards and entered me into the first Children of Mastana. I ended up winning and developed a love for music.
Of all your accolades, accomplishments, prizes and awards which do you rate as extremely special?
Chutney Soca Monarch 2012; Children of Mastana 1995; And Crossover Artist of the Year 2012.
What were your dreams of the future when you were a kid?
I wanted to be able to fly.
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Promoting and representing the culture of beautiful T&T. Oh, and a dad as well (laughs out loud).
What is/are the most important lesson/s you’ve learned in life?
My profession doesn’t make me different or better than anyone else. When the morning comes, I pay the bills and live just as everyone else does. My dad taught me that, and it’s kept me grounded since.
What advice would you give to the young people of T&T?
Make sense of the chance we get at life. Take full advantage and never let anyone tell you no.
If you could dine with anyone in history who would it be and why? What dinner conversation would you have with that person?
I’d dine with Obama or Gandhi. I’d want to know how they were able to conquer the naysayers; how they were able to succeed. I’d also want to dine with Megan Fox, and let her explain to me why she’s that beautiful.
What is the best compliment you have every received?
Hmm…I’ve been told that there couldn’t have been a better representative for our culture in my industry. That really flattered me.
If you had to switch places with someone else for a week who would that be?
I’d switch places with either one of my parents, so I’d understand and better appreciate the things they sacrifice to make my brother and I hap