Rikki Jai _____ use

Veteran chutney-soca musician, Rikki Jai.

Government must do more to preserve chutney music.

This is the reasoning from chutney and chutney-soca musician, Rikki Jai (Samraj Jaimungal). Jai was speaking at a webinar presented by the Office of the president of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) on “Tradition to Innovation: Fusion Indian Music in T&T”, in commemoration of Indian Arrival Day 2022.

Jai lamented: “Chutney music is deteriorating but who is educating the chutney artistes on how to write a song or what are the elements you need to put in your song?” he questioned

Jai said a new generation of artistes is being left behind. “Where is the school of thought to put into place for these youngsters? These youngsters who are now trying to follow in my footsteps, where is the school of continuation?

“So, if we want to talk about tradition and innovation, how can we expect the young people to really innovate if they are not being taught? Indian entertainment needs a proper forum, it needs proper direction, it needs proper education,” Jai said.

Jai said for innovation to take place there needs to be funding. “The calypso fraternity has a system in place for the continuation of the calypso and soca art forms through workshops and all sorts of different things that happen on a yearly basis and on a grandiose scale all over Trinidad and Tobago,” Jai said.

He said there needs to be a balance in the way culture is supported. “There is a one-sidedness of how culture is viewed in Trinidad and Tobago. I myself have been in culture for the better part of 35 years and the allocation that is given to one side of culture as opposed to the other is totally unbalanced. If you want people to become innovative then somebody has to fund it.

“I have funded my career for the most part. If you really want innovation then the Government has to come in and play a bigger part and recognise that the Indo-Trinbagonian aspect is a great importance as well and it has much to offer the world and it can’t be left to be borne on the shoulders of the artiste alone,” Jai said.

Jai said workshops must be taken to the communities. “I am successful but most Indo-Trinbagonian artistes out here are not in a position to do the things that I have done. I spent all my money for culture, for innovation and for change. I think that this generation needs help more than ever if you want this tradition to innovation to be something better than where I left it. Much more needs to be done and put into the pot which can have a big effect on how things change, how lyrics are written, how management and proper guidance can mould young artiste and entertainers in the right direction,” Jai said.

Pichakaaree singer, Mukesh Babooram said pichakaaree is also in need of funding. “Pichakaaree has an issue with funding. If it is not funded it will die. But pichakaaree is not considered national culture. For pichakaaree forum to be more relevant it must be given the life support it needs it must be recognised supported and funded,” Babooram said.


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Welcome to the latest installment of the Bocas Book Bulletin, a monthly roundup of Caribbean literary news, curated by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, and published in the Sunday Express.

New releases

Zo and the Forest of Secrets (Knights of Media), the debut book of children’s fiction by Trinidadian Alake Pilgrim, follows a young girl on a thrilling supernatural journey through the forests of her home island. This first novel in a new fantasy series brings together elements of mystery and mysticism, grounded in the very real landscape of the author’s home island.

Horizons Art Gallery welcomes Lindon Mitchel and Leah Yip Ying for a joint exhibition that’s sure to thrill. Lindon’s watercolours and Leah’s rich acrylics both offer vivid glimpses into life in Trinidad and Tobago; with their forces combined, viewers are promised a joyful and uplifting experience.

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