Jason Sookram

Jason Sookram

GET ready for the first ever online international chutney soca contest—the Chutneymusic.com Rani & Raja competition. For the first time in chutney soca music history, a rani or queen will be crowned at the grand finals. A raja (king) will also be announced.

The organisers of the newly minted online competition are none other than Jason Sookram and the team at www.chutneymusic.com. In 2018 Sookram, otherwise known as DJ Floops created the website to promote East Indian culture and the chutney music genre. The website features traditional chutney music, chutney soca and Bollywood remixes along with a weekly top ten chart and articles on chutney artistes. Chutneymusic.com has fans not only in the Caribbean and North America but also in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania and as far as Fiji where there are sizable Indian populations. The articles featured on the website are available in both English and Hindi.

Sookram and his team came up with the idea to host an online chutney soca competition after observing the impact the global health crisis was having on the morale of chutney artistes.

“A lot of artists have lamented the loss of gigs and income. Many have said how much they miss their fans, the stage and the spotlight. Right now there is a lot of doom and despair hanging over the industry. Many artistes feel that since Carnival 2021 has been cancelled there is nothing to look forward to next year, so they are not able to pursue their passion,” says Sookram. “With almost 100,000 followers on Facebook, we have a big say in the industry and we knew that we couldn’t leave things unattended. So we decided to have a competition where the artistes would be able to pursue their passion and get exposure.”

It is their intention to put positivity back into the market, highlight up-and-coming talent and bring people together. The chutney soca music competition is online so there are no Covid-19 concerns and Sookram and his team are expecting submissions from the Caribbean and beyond. With Divali around the corner, chutneymusic.com has also launched Divali programmes such as “Bollywood Under the Trees” which has turned out to be a big hit among its followers, with 20,000 views in one day on Facebook.

“For those of us who live in the US and Canada where the weather is getting colder, looking at videos of people back home laughing and singing under the trees is a form of escapism since we’re not able to go outside right now because it’s so cold. So we can live vicariously through them,” says Sookram.

Be original

Entry into the Chutneymusic.com Rani & Raja competition is free of charge. Those wishing to enter must submit a one-minute video of themselves singing to the accompaniment of professionally recorded instrumentals or live backing instruments. English compositions are allowed but bonus points are awarded for songs with the proper usage of Hindustani. Bonus points are awarded for original lyrics and melodies. Bollywood remixes and covers are not allowed. Bonus points will also be awarded for original lyrics and melodies. Songs that have been professionally recorded by another artiste cannot be used.

The preliminary round deadline is December 19. The most popular performers will be decided by a people’s choice poll on Facebook, the most popular male and female performers will get an automatic ticket to the semi final round. A panel of judges will select the ten best female and male competitors to move into the semi finals. A maximum of 24 competitors, 12 male and 12 female, will contend in the semi-finals. The semi-final round would be shown live on Facebook and YouTube on January 23, 2021. Contestants will be required to perform their song live in the comfort of their own home or anywhere else they choose.

A maximum number of ten persons will contest the finals—five men and five women.

The grand finals will take place on February 6, 2021. The ten finalists will compete on a live show where the judging panel will be present. The judges will be rating performances live and giving comments. The score sheets would be handed to an auditor for tally and verification.

Sookram is proud to say that the competition will crown the first ever queen in the history of chutney soca.

“We want to set a positive example for female chutney artistes, we want many Drupatees to come forward,” said Sookram, referencing the iconic musician Drupatee Ramgoonai who is credited for coining the term “chutney soca”.

The organisers of the first CRC 2021 are calling on persons and companies in the private and public sector to keep the culture alive and come on board as sponsors.

For more info on how you can submit a song or become a sponsor, go to www.chutneymusic.com/contact.

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