Local Indian classical singing is getting a much needed boost.
Surujdeo Mangaroo, executive producer, NeeLeeJi Entertainment Ltd, said his organisation would be partnering with Hindi Foundation of T&T to bring to the lovers of local classical singing an opportunity to participate in an Independence Classical Singing Competition.
Indian classical singing was brought to T&T by the Indentured labourers when they landed here 177 years ago. However, the early form of authentic Indian classical music has evolved into Indo-Trinidad classical music, which is sometimes referred to as taan singing, tent singing or classical.
These songs are written in either Hindi or Urdu. There is no blending of English and Hindi as is done in modern chutney music. The artform is entirely different from the version of chutney music that originated in the 1970s and grew massively popular in the decades following.
Local classical music uses traditional instruments such as the harmonium, dholak and dhantal. The mandolin was also a popular instrument, however, it is seldom used today. Electronic instruments are never used.
Indian classical singer Dubraj Persad will be one of the guest artistes at the competition.
Based on the notes, different styles of singing have evolved. These include thumri, dhrupad, ghazal, tilaana, ghazal, chaiti, malaar, kimta, bihag and lowni.
Classical singing legends include Sam Boodram, Issac Yankaran, Jameer Hosein, Abdool Kush Razack, Ashook Yankaran, Balliram Bala, Budram Holass, Dev Bansraj Ramkissoon, Haniff Mohammed and Henry Tooloom Dindial.
Mangaroo said the finals would be held on Sunday, August 28, 2022 at 4 pm at the Multipurpose Hall, at Camden Road, Couva, opposite the Couva District Hospital.
He said, “Classical or Taan singing was brought to these parts by our forefathers in 1845. I am very proud to say that this art form is now being appreciated by young and upcoming singers.”
Karishma Dhowtal, 27, the granddaughter of the legendary Jameer Hosein, said she intends to continue her grandfather’s legacy.
“I am excited as a young artiste that this artform is seeing a grand revival. I hope that more youth will get vocal training and join us on this road,” she said.
Dhowtal studied Indian Classical vocals at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Corporation. She started at the age of seven and has performed locally and internationally.
One of the special guest artistes would include the highly acclaimed Dubraj Persad, who started singing 30-plus years ago. Persad said, “I have been competing for several decades, now is the time to encourage and support young artists. Classical is indigenous to T&T and I am happy to preserve this artform.”
Classical singer Veejai Ramkissoon, one of the contestants for the preliminary rounds.
Contestants will be vying for a grand prize of $25,000 sponsored by the Hindi Foundation of Trinidad & Tobago Inc and the Pandit Mahase Maharaj challenge trophy.
The sum of $10,000 will be awarded to the People’s Choice. The best drummer will receive $5,000 plus the Kalool Ramsamooj trophy. The best Dhantalist will receive $3,000.
The audition/preliminary will be held on Sunday, June 19 at Whiskey Business, Tulsa Branch Trace in Penal.