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Classic hits get new life

Seeta Persad Sunday, January 8 2017

Scores of chutney soca artistes turned out for the launch of the 2017 Chutney Soca Monarch (CSM) at the NLCB’s Booth, Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain last Friday.

CSM promoter George Singh told the gathering that chutney music unites people, “building bridges beyond politics and religion”.

“It is the melting pot of TT’s music and it has grown to be one of the most anticipated events in Carnival after 21 years,” Singh said adding that events such as CSM help promote the local music industry on the world stage.

He outlined that Mashramani, Labor Day, Notting Hill Carnival, Caribana and other carnivals are all driven by TT’s music, and they feed off the music coming out of the CSM and the International Soca Monarch shows. With this is mind, he says, each year the challenge remains to make the event more exciting and fresh while motivating artistes to reach their highest potential.

This year, Singh introduced a new competition alongside CSM- --the “World’s Ultimate Chutney Challenge”. This contest is geared towards re-introducing the greatest ‘hits’ of yesteryear. “It is an event that will create new opportunities for some of the more seasoned artistes alongside the stars of today,” Singh said. These artistes will perform some of the biggest hits of the past using the original tune or remix the same song into a modern version.

“This can actually re-energize the music and create new excitement with songs that were chart-toppers in the early days of chutney music,” Singh said.

Ten singers were chosen by a team of professionals to sing their hits from past years — Omadath Maharaj (Ring Bang), Drupatie Ramgoonai (Mr Bissessar) Rikki Jai (Mor Tor), Sam Boodram (Lalana Kooshi), Terry Gajraj (Guyana Baboo), Rasika Dindial (Maticoor Night), Rakesh Yankarran (Mousie), Devanand Gattoo (Payalia), Chris Garcia (Chutney Bachannal) and Adesh Samaroo (Rajin Jheem Jheem Jhoom).

Rakesh, whose brother chutney music icon Anand Yankarran who was laid to rest under Hindu rites last Thursday, was chosen to perform the traditional chutney song “Mousie”. But at this time of grief, Rakesh says he cannot contemplate singing in any competition but will consider the request made by CSM and also his fans. “I am prepared to dedicate every one (song) I sing to my younger brother who died recently,” he told Sunday Newsday, adding that the Yankarrans are known for pleasing the people with the best traditional chutney and Indian classical songs.

At this time, the Yankarrans are in mourning as they pray for the soul of Anand who passed away on January 2. Singh also spoke about Anand saying the year started on a very sad note with his death, hailing the late singer as a prized jewel of the chutney and chutney soca industry. Singh noted that 28 years ago, when the song “Nanda Baba” was released, CSM started six years later.

“It is songs like these that have shaped the landscape of what we know today to be chutney and chutney soca,” he said. Anand returned to the CSM stage for a short stint in 2014 with his hit “Pak Pak”, a duet with Rikki Jai.

Reigning CSM champion KI Persad, at the launch, congratulated Singh for the work he is doing to promote local artistes, saying winners of the competition are considered celebrities in foreign countries.

Persad won the 2016 competition with “’Same Gyul Twice”.

Reshma Ramlal, who recently returned from performing in Guadeloupe, is looking forward to the Carnival season. “I believe that CSM really gives the artistes the opportunity to shine on an international stage, through the Carnival Carnival season,” she said.

The National Lotteries Control Board is the title sponsor for the 2017 CSM

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