Climaxxx Wants To Revive Traditional Chutney Music
Avinash Sookraj, aka Climaxxx, is a pharmacist assistant who followed his passion to become a singer.
But he is not the ordinary chutney soca artiste.
Sookraj, 26, has performed alongside some of this country’s popular chutney and soca artistes.
He grew up admiring the Raymond Ramnarine and Ravi Bissambhar who went on to become internationally recognised.
His dream, however, has always been to revive traditional chutney in Trinidad and Tobago.
His method is by collaborating with some of those artistes who many may have forgotten.
“Growing up I would listen to these singers with my grandparents. I remember, as a child, I would listen to them with my grandparents and I would be in awe when I saw how they would make a crowd go mad with their style of singing and playing of instruments live on stage. Some of the people I always admire would have to be Jameer Hosein, Dandayea Narine, Sam Boodram, Boodram Holass, Baron, Calypso Rose and the list goes on,” he said.
Sookraj said he researched these singers and as he started his career in entertainment he began his mission.
His first collaboration, last year, was Chana Daye with the popular Neeshan “D Hitman” Prabhoo. The track went on to win the TTCME Award for chutney soca song of the year 2017.
He was then was introduced to Indian classical singing legend, Jameer Hosein, and together they recreated the hit song “Ram Ra Sili”. Hosein passed away in 2018.
Sookraj even tried to merge the popular Baron tune “Somebody” with a Bollywood track “Mere Dost” and that too became a favourite on the local airwaves.
But the best was yet to come.
Sookraj discovered the woman who had commanded the stage at chutney shows back in the 1990s – the legendary Dandayea Narine.
She was labelled the “Bhaigan Queen” by fans.
Narine, 81, has been ailing for some time and had not recorded a track in over a decade.
She was unable to leave her home to do recordings, so Sookraj brought the studio to her home in Marabella.
The feeble woman was too pleased to collaborate with the youngster.
Sookraj said, “I came up with the idea for my 2019 chutney soca contribution. The original song is entitled Bhaigan Choka and I believe we must always show appreciation to where our culture all began and I could not have done this track without having the Bhaigan Queen herself on it, Aunty Dandayea Narine.”
He recalled Narine, in her youth, playing the dholak (drums) as she sang.
“Aunty was known for her popular tracks like “Picker Chooka Me” and the ever Popular “Bhaigan Waale” which she learnt from her grandmother and placed second in the International Chutney Soca Monarch competition years ago. She wrote many compositions of her own from being thought from her grandparents who had a Hindi school long ago. Aunty Dandayea is 81 years of age and although doctors have stopped her from performing she still has the power and excitement in her voice,” he said.
Sookraj described her as “a phoenix rising from the ashes again”.
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“Bhaigan Choka” was written by Kelvin Kissoon and other upcoming artiste Kess Ramroop aka Dr Tunes. The song was produced by Maha Studio.
“She is such a loving soul and very active at her age , she held my hand and nurtured me just how my grandmother would have, being in her presence felt divine and her spirit is so joyous,” he said.
The song was released on Narine’s birthday.
“I released my track on this particular day to give her the spot light that she deserved after being hidden for so long . I wanted to make this day extra special so that Aunty knows that we still look up to the persons that paved the way for us the future. A lot of thought was put into planning this day an making necessary arrangements and she loved and enjoyed every bit. She has been one of our local artiste that stared the off the music industry to have it where it is presently an I could not have completed Bhaigan Choka without the blessings of the Bhaigan Queen herself,” he said.
In the coming weeks, Sookraj would release collaborations with chutney singers Boodran Holass and Sam Boodram.
“As a young artiste in this industry I always believe that we should never forget our roots and from who brought about our culture and we as the future must always look up to these people and give the recognition that they deserve to bring us to where we are for today also to add to that you pay respect to them while they are alive and could accept it not wait until they are passed on. Therefore I have decided to keep the saga of the Legend and the Future,” he said.
Sookraj has also recoded numerous Bollywood songs and his first bhajan song entitled “Jai Ganesha Deva”.
He said, “Growing up I also looked up at the performances of Raymond Ramnarine and Ravi Bissambhar and how they were able to capture the hearts of a crowd and always envisioned myself being like them in the future. From being very humble and down to individuals to reaching out and spreading our love an culture to the people of our world both locally and internationally.”