Soca star Machel Montano, third from right, with members of his family at the Caribbean Music Awards, in New York on August 31. Montano was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. – Photo courtesy Caribbean Music Awards
CHUTNEY singer Ravi Bissambhar, better known as Ravi B, says he hopes one day Chutney Soca can be recognised by the Caribbean Music Awards.
He was responding via WhatsApp to queries from Newsday over his social media post which criticised the exclusion of the genre at the inaugural Caribbean Music Awards in New York on August 31.
“I just really want to say kudos to all my colleagues from the Caribbean who were nominated and won awards.
“I actually would like to commend the idea and the producers of this event for creating a platform for Caribbean artistes to be appreciated and awarded for their hard work.
“I hope that one day in the near future we can get a Chutney Soca category up in there,” he said.
Bissambhar’s Facebook post sparked a debate over the exclusion of Chutney Soca music from the inaugural Caribbean Music Awards.
His comment, “Dear Carib Music Awards, Chutney Soca Music is also part of the Caribbean,” has sparked both negative and supporting responses.
Included was a reference to the Caribbean Court of Justice, with one fan pointing out, “This is why it must not be accepted as our final court of appeal. Go figure.”
Many felt it is part of the Caribbean music and should be acknowledged, which some discrediting it as perpetuating “rum culture and rum lyrics.”
The award hosted by Haitian-born Grammy-award singer Wyclef Jean, was held at King’s Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York and was slated as an event to honour artists in the region.
In his address to the audience Jean said, “Tonight is a very, very important night as we celebrate the Caribbean region. Tonight is history.
“They steal our culture and they change the name of it. They call it ‘pop.’ Tonight, we’re taking everything back to the Caribbean.”
Award recipients were selected via fans who voted for their favourite songs, artists and music videos online, months before the event.
TT-born entertainers such as Machel Montano, David Rudder, Kes Dieffanthaller, Patrice Roberts, Nialah Blackman were all honoured for their body of work in both calypso and soca genres.
Ravi B, one of the top names in Chutney/Soca who has been performing across the Caribbean and North America, took to social media to express his disappointment with the mainly reggae/dancehall and soca music genres which were recognised.
Jazz singer Vaughnette Bigford, responding to Ravi B’s statement, noted “There were several genres and sub-genres left out at the awards. I think with a little time and consistency we will all be recognised. For now, I’m thankful that this was done. There is hope.”
In response to another commentator who sought to deride the genre asking what chutney is while emphasising it is the Caribbean Music Award and not Trinidad and Guyana, Bigford was defensive.
“I don’t agree. It (Chutney Soca) has its place and it should be respected. I do play that. “
Also weighing in on the controversy, international opera singer, Anne Fridal observed there are over 50 diverse genres of calypso music, all derived out of calypso and it will be a tough decision every year and trials not to offend.
She identified some of the Caribbean music offshoots from calypso such as, chutney soca, zouk, mento, rapso, extempo, cadence rampa, dancehall, jab jab, rocksteady, kaseko, jing ping, reggae, punta rock, parang, steelband, breakdown and calypsopera.
“There are even more forms of Caribbean music. Does an artiste have to sell a million records or have an equal amount of fans to be included in the awards show? What is the deciding factor to be included?” she asked.
Montano, 48, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award said he was honoured to receive such an award before he “I hit meh half-century.”
He was edged out of winning the Artist of the Decade which went to Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, who is in prison on a murder charge. Both Montano and Kes the Band were among the contenders for this award.
Rudder who publicly shared his struggle with Parkinson’s disease received an Elite Calypso Music Award. Kees got the People’s Choice Award.