Alison Hinds (born 1 June 1970) is a female soca artist from the Caribbean island of Barbados. She is one of the most popular soca singers in the world and has unofficially been given the nickname the “Queen of Soca”. She has produced many popular songs that top charts even in countries which do not widely listen to soca.
In 1986, Hinds joined the soca band Square One. At first this band performed mostly in bars and clubs, but later they became a top Soca band, bringing soca to a new level. Alison produced her first hit in the year 1996, “Ragamuffin”. That song made her win road march of that year for Kadooment (Barbados’ Carnival). The following year she repeated road march and also won The Party Monarch with another hit “Twister”. Alison was the first woman to ever win these titles in Barbados. This led to Hinds’ role as the lead singer in the band. Next, Square One created an album called “Full Bloom”. This album took over the Caribbean. It included the song “Faluma”, which was the top song in the Caribbean for the period of 1999-2000. It toped the charts of Guatemala for 49 weeks. It was during this period that Hinds’ popularity grew. Square One continued to produce hits until 2004 when it broke up – partly due to Hinds’ departure.
Currently Alison Hinds lives with her family, husband Edward Walcott and daughter Saharan (born May 5th, 2004), on a horse farm in Barbados. She has her own band, “The Alison Hinds Show”. This band was formed in 2005 when Hinds returned to the soca scene with the hit song “Roll It Gal” which is an anthem for young women and encourages them to have pride in themselves. In 2006 the song was still popular. Hinds is the main singer and most of the members of the band are young dancers and musicians. She also produced a song called “Love Affair”. Since she returned to music she has recorded a collaboration with Machel Montano for the the remix of “Roll It Gal”.
KI (Kris Veeshal Persad,) is a most talented, effervescent, and promising crossover artiste, who has proved that he can compete with the best in the Soca and Chutney business. His professional and affable demeanor as well as his ability to blend his talents as a band leader, musician and singer providing top class entertainment certainly is an inspiration to young people and to those up and coming artistes.
Son of Trinidad’s established keyboardist, band leader, & producer Veerendra Persad, KI started his entertainment career as a keyboardist at the tender at age 7. He competed and won the very first “Children of Mastana” competition and shortly thereafter migrated to Canada where he spent his formative years concentrating on his Academics and Studying Music. KI continued to display his commitment and dedication to the band and was given the opportunity to be lead musician and producer for JMC 3veni. He used this experience to produce the band’s last 5 albums, and collaborated with Madmen Productions in producing the massive hit “In Front Of Meh” by Umi Marcano, formally of Machel Montano’s “HD.”
Entering the Chutney Soca Monarch for the first time in 2010, KI placed 4th with the successful hit “Catch Meh Lovah (Sunita & Nadia)”. This year, his scintillating performance at the 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch Competition saw him place 3rd with his song “No More Rum Again” with over 10,000 votes. He has since then became the most requested Crossover Artist at Major festivals/carnivals worldwide.
2011 has proven to be a record breaking year for KI, as he was asked to be the opening act for Machel Montano’s Return Concert in Manhattan, New York. He thus became the first ever Crossover Artist out of Trinidad & Tobago to perform at the world renowned Madison Square Garden alongside his band Jmc 3veni. In December of 2011, he received a National Award for Chutney Soca in Trinidad & Tobago, endorsed by President George Maxwell Richrds. KI now continues to tour throughout the Caribbean, North & South America, and Europe, promoting the fantastic music and culture of Trinidad & Tobago.
One of the great success stories of the ’80s, Barrington Levy, arrived on the dancehall scene and swiftly remodeled it in his own image. Although numerous DJs and vocalists would rise and fall during this decade, Levy was one of the few with staying power, and he continued releasing massive hits well into the ’90s. Born in 1964 in Clarendon, Jamaica, as a youngster, Barrington Levy formed the Mighty Multitude with his cousin Everton Dacres. They started off playing the sound systems and cut their first single, “My Black Girl,” in 1977. All of 14, Levy broke out on his own the next year and recorded his debut solo single, “A Long Time Since We Don’t Have No Love.”
By 1981 Levy’s effortlessly buoyant voice had spread his fame to the point where Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, at the time the most in-demand producer in Jamaica, pursued him. His first Junjo single was ‘Ah Yah We Deh’, which sold moderately well, as did two further releases. His fourth single, ‘Collie Weed’, was a great success. Levy did not sound like anyone else: he perhaps revealed some of Jacob Miller’s style, and a little of Bob Andy’s influence, but his phrasing evoked the raw energy of the dancehalls. While other singers were struggling, Levy was slugging it out at the top. His 1979 album, Bounty Hunter, sold well and a string of singles consolidated his position: ‘Robber Man’, ‘Black Rose’, ‘Like A Soldier’, the massive hits ‘Money Move’ and ‘Shine Eye Gal’, and the stunning ‘Prison Oval Rock’, and a series of albums were released between 1982 and 1985 to capitalize on his success. He later denounced many of these as ‘joke business’, being packaged with old singles, out-takes and one-off private sound system recordings. He performed his first UK gigs in 1984, including an appearance as a winner at the UK Reggae Awards. He then linked with young producer Jah Screw and enjoyed a big hit with ‘Under Mi Sensi’. He followed it with ‘Here I Come’, which was a hit in the soul clubs and scraped the UK charts when licensed by London Records, who also issued an album of the same title. However, Screw and Levy made the mistake of courting crossover success and he sounded lost on subsequent rocky singles. Levy travelled between Jamaica, London and New York, and although he lost momentum at the end of the 80s, he still had all the talent of his peak period, as the 1988 recording Love The Life You Live made clear. Two Bob Andy cover versions, ‘Too Experienced’ and ‘My Time’, brought him back to the forefront of reggae, and he signed to Island Records in 1991 for the fine Divine set. While it remains to be seen whether Levy can ever achieve the broader success that seemed to be his in the mid-80s, he remains one of reggae’s most powerful and original voices.
Lemongrass Tofu and Vegetable Curry Recipe is a delicious combination of fresh vegetables, tofu and flavored with a lemon grass curry paste. The curry also has a blend of coconut milk and a tomato puree, adding to the tanginess of this asian inspired curry. When I made this curry, I had a little bit of a variety of vegetables, a stalk of lemon grass, tofu and tomato puree, and it was so easy to bring it all together. Serve the Tofu and Vegetable Curry along with brown rice or even jasmine rice for as healthy wholesome weeknight dinner.
- 250 grams firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 carrots, cut into round coins
- 1/4 cup green peas, steamed
- 250 grams broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoon five spice curry powder
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 1/4 tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Ingredients for the Lemon Grass Curry Paste
- 1 stalk of lemon grass, chopped with leaves
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 red chillies, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
Directions for Lemongrass Tofu and Vegetable Curry Recipe
- To begin making the Lemongrass Tofu and Vegetable Curry Recipe we have to get a set of ingredients ready. Keep the vegetables cut and ready.
- Make the Lemon Grass Curry Paste, by blending all the curry paste ingredients into a smooth paste adding very little water. Keep this aside.
- Next make the homemade tomato puree. Keep this aside. I most often make a batch of it and refrigerate it, so when I have to make recipes like this, it comes in handy.
- Whisk the coconut milk, tomato puree, the lemon grass curry paste, salt, turmeric powder and curry powder until well combined. Check the salt and spice levels and adjust it to suit your taste. Add in the tofu cubes and keep this aside.
- Now we are ready to bring out ingredients together for the Lemongrass Tofu and Vegetable Curry Recipe.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large wok; add in all the vegetables together, sprinkle some salt and stir fry on high heat until the vegetables are lightly cooked and steamed. Once the vegetables are cooked, pour in the Lemon grass curry mixture along with the tofu and stir to combine.
- Turn the heat to medium high and bring the curry to a boil. After a minute of boiling, turn off the heat and transfer the curry to a serving bowl.
- Serve the Lemongrass Tofu and Vegetable Curry, along with brown rice or jasmine rice for a wholesome weeknight dinner.
Rikki Jai (Samraj Jaimungal) is one of the most enduring, adventurous and understated entertainers in Trinidad & Tobago music. For 22 years he has moved between the country’s dominant musical genres: calypso, chutney, soca, and Indian soca, winning awards, encores and competitions. From 1988, when he debuted with the modern calypso classic “Sumintra”, to 2011, when he won the inaugural TT$2 million prize in the Chutney Soca competition with the controversial “White Oak and Water”, he has served as a barometer for Indian/African racialised politics in Trinidad & Tobago’s uniquely heterogeneous society, which is dominated by these two ethnic groups.
Born in Friendship Village, south Trinidad – a predominantly Hindu community – Jai is the fifth of six children. His mother speaks Hindi and Bhojpuri, sings chutney (Indo-Caribbean) songs, and is still his co-writer. Uncommonly, despite being born into a creative tradition of Indian folk music, Jai did not start his career in chutney, but built a reputation in calypso before turning to that form.
His cultural education, which began with Bhojpuri folk songs, expanded during his youth. He attended St Paul’s Anglican Primary School in the southern city of San Fernando, where he was introduced to Christian hymns, played on the piano by the school’s principal and musicologist, “Mr Mungal”. Later, he attended Naparima College, a Presbyterian school.
As he travelled into young adulthood, calypso captured his musical attention; last year he told the Trinidad & Tobago Review that as a young man he memorised all the calypsoes he heard. After high school, he worked as a clerical officer in the Ministry of Finance in the capital, Port of Spain. Here, he was up close to the music that had fascinated him.
In 1986, just 24 years old, he attended a bazaar in Oropouche, South Trinidad, at which the Princes Town-based crossover band Naya Andaz Orchestra was playing. Naya Andaz, now Andaz International, started in 1957 and was the first Indian band to include soca and calypso in its repertoire. As the band transitioned from Indian songs to calypso at its bazaar performance, it went instrumental; the band had no vocalist for its calypso segment. Jai offered himself. He auditioned the following week, singing David Rudder’s “Bahia Girl” and “Hammer” and Crazy’s risqué “Pussycat”.
Jai performed calypso with Naya Andaz for a year. By 1987, he had been wooed and won by Triveni Orchestra, with whom he travelled further; the band performed in big fetes, and was often the opening act for frontline calypsonians.
“One of the best things to happen to me was joining Triveni,” he has said in many interviews. “It put me from the small fetes in the south to the big fetes in the north. As a frontline singer, dealing with the African-Trinidadian community and fete-lovers…getting to see David Rudder, Colin Lucas, Ronnie McIntosh first-hand…I would watch the masters and learn.”
Working in Port of Spain brought him closer not only to the music he loved but also to the creators of that music. One of his co-workers was calypsonian Bally, who would insert himself into the history of contemporary calypso with “Shaka Shaka”, “Lucifer”, “Maxi Dub” and the biting political commentary “Party Time”, which late calypso critic Terry Joseph described as one of the best calypsoes ever.
“I am especially grateful to Errol ‘Bally’ Ballantyne, a good friend and a gentleman,” Rikki Jai told the Sunday Express in 2000. He elaborated in theReview: “It took me a whole month to bring up the issue of recording my first calypso. He [Bally] proved to be one of the most selfless, genuine persons. He told me everything he knew, took me to meet GB [calypsonian Gregory Ballantyne – no relation], who said he had a song, ‘Rampersad’, for $1,500. I didn’t have the money and asked for two weeks to come up with it.”
He was able to raise only $800 and the song went to the late chutney icon Sundar Popo, but Jai asked GB for another, and “Sumintra” was born. It remains Jai’s signature song and became a modern calypso classic. It also fuelled a national debate that expressed the politics – specifically Indian/African ethnic politics – of Trinidad & Tobago culture.
The politicisation of Rikki Jai had begun.
In “Sumintra”, Jai woos an Indian girl with Indian songs. She accuses him of “trying to reach the Indian in me” and declares “Hold the Lata Mangeshkar, give me soca”. In so doing, Sumintra expresses a preference for creole culture and identifies herself as Trinidadian, an identity in which her Indianness is but a part of her whole.
Orthodox sections of Indian Trinidad reacted immediately. In their eyes Jai was advocating the rejection of Indian culture, encouraging cultural defection, and favouring state-supported Afro-Creole culture at the expense of Indian culture, which they were struggling to preserve.
The song, and criticisms of it, also engaged with an historic political moment; by the year of the song’s release Trinidad & Tobago was being governed by a coalition, the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), which, significantly, included the Indian-based United Labour Front (ULF). Two years before, that coalition had displaced the Afro-based People’s National Movement (PNM) for the first time in the country’s history. In 1988, the year of “Sumintra”, the ULF split from the NAR on bitter terms, and Indian Trinidad was again out of government.
Jai followed the popular and controversial “Sumintra” with “Keep it Pumpin” (1989), “Show Me Your Motion” and “Bolo” (1990), and “Wine on a Bumsee” (1993). Only after 1993 did he turn to chutney music. Between then and now, he has been crowned Chutney Soca Monarch an unparalleled six times.
In 1998, continuing his dominance of the chutney soca form, Jai, as reigning Chutney Soca Monarch, was invited to be a guest performer at the National Soca Monarch competition, the annual premier exhibition of Caribbean soca music. As had happened ten years before with “Sumintra”, he was again viewed through political lenses. The large audience was hostile; Jai describes his time on stage as seven minutes of concentrated torture, and the closest he has come to knowing what a soldier in Iraq must feel like.
Jai was targeted by the Port of Spain audience that night because he was perceived as representing Indian Trinidad in another historic political moment; the country had grown resentful of the government of the day, which was led by the Indian-based United National Congress (UNC). For the first time in Trinidad & Tobago’s history, an Indian-based political party had won the general elections, in 1995. But by the time Jai walked onto the Soca Monarch stage, the country’s romance with the government had gone bad.
“I was terribly hurt,” Jai told the Review, “but I didn’t hold it against them.”
He persevered, and in 2005 released his most commercially successful song, “Mor Tor”, a remix of which featured soca megastar Machel Montano. In 2010 Jai became the first chutney artiste to place third in the Groovy segment of the Soca Monarch competition, with “Barman”.
Unrelenting in his pursuit of his Trinidadian identity through his music, Jai reflected on his experiences and in 2001 enjoyed unprecedented success. He won four of the six competitions he entered – Chutney Soca, Young Kings (in which he tied with Bunji Garlin), South Calypso Monarch, and National Unattached Monarch. He was also a finalist in the National Calypso Monarch Competition for the first and only time in his career. He placed seventh there, but the GB-authored song he performed on the big stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, “Identity”, was a full articulation of his creative and political philosophy. Jai declares that “I will never see life through a crack or a pigeonhole”:
The bogey of race stares me in my face anywhere I go
Like a time bomb ticking, waiting to explode
But as an East Indian Trinbagonian, I want you know
Here’s where I stand in that scenario
When I sing Hindi and I sing chutney, that’s my heritage
East Indian drums echo from a land outside of my sight
But when I sing kaiso and I sing soca, that’s my privilege
My blood, my sweat, my joy and my copyright
‘Cause I’m a Trinbagonian, I’m a born Trini
I’m a chutney champion, all of that is me
And I’m a Trinbagonian, I’m a born Trini
I create my music in English and Hindi.
But I’m a freedom fighter with both my guns aglow
You see I blazing a trail in chutney and calypso
Ten years after this, however, Jai was back in the glare of controversy; last year his “White Oak and Water” won him his sixth Chutney Soca crown, and again his music was politicised. The one-year-old government, a People’s Partnership coalition led by the Indian-based UNC, fulfilled a campaign promise to increase prize money for major Carnival competitions to a whopping TT$2 million. Critics labelled Jai’s composition a “rum song” (White Oak is a brand of rum). They condemned the government for rewarding it, and used it as an example of artistic deterioration in chutney music.
The criticisms, Jai says, were unfair, and fed a stereotype of Indians as alcoholics.
“The story is much more than its title and what ignorant people are saying. The argument is, if you go somewhere and ask for a girl’s hand in marriage, they would seal acceptance with, ‘Let’s have a drink’.
“The song is also playing on the poor cane farmer, touching on the closure of Caroni Ltd [the state-owned sugar-production company which employed mainly Indians and which was closed in 2003]. I’m saying in the song that I don’t care if the girl is rich, poor, or in between. It’s a love song, not a rum song.”
Referring to the large number of 2011 calypsoes that featured alcohol, Jai says attacks on his song were attacks on Indians. “People are trying to attack Indians for the wrong reasons. It is a feeble attempt to downgrade Indians and put them back as second-class citizens.”
He recognises, however, that chutney needs greater creativity. His analysis is that while early chutney artistes were trained in Indian classical and semi-classical music, members of the young generation do not have that training, are not competent songwriters, and are not always able to tap into the artistry of an older generation.
“There is a problem now with the fluid movement from one era to the next,” he says, but he feels some of the attention to “White Oak and Water” is promising.
“National attention to chutney has grown, even though the music has changed. People are talking about ‘White Oak and Water’ because they can relate to it and it’s in English.
“Sometimes you have to do things before you can change it, join something to effect change. But change will come.”
Jai, the father of two sons, intends to continue being an agent of that change in music and its politics. He wants to return to the Calypso Monarch competition in 2012, and still, he says, wants to reach the rest of the world with his music.
Rupert Clarke (born September 10, 1975), best known by his stage name Rupee, is a soca musician from Barbados. He was born in military barracks in Germany to a German mother and a Bajan father, who was serving in the British armed forces at the time. He later migrated to Barbados. He was signed to Atlantic Records.
By the age of nine, Rupee had lived three different cultures – German, English, and Barbadian.
Spending his first years in England, he was exposed to a contrast of sounds which reflected his parents’ diverse backgrounds:calypso on the side of his West Indian father, pop and rock and roll from his mother. He and his siblings would often perform on stage, coming up with all sorts of chants, rhymes and antics to tease the audience. Rupee eventually moved to Barbados in 1985. He had his first major break after winning the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition in 1993, when he was a schoolboy at Harrison College.
Rupee emerged on the local soca scene after being invited to join the then popular Bajan band, Coalishun, along with singers like Terencia Coward-“TC” and Adrian Clarke in 1997. Though initially more dancehall oriented, Rupee would find himself settling into the soca genre, a genre indigenous to Barbados. This was marked by the release of his first hit single “Ice Cream”.
“Ice Cream” was followed by a string of hit songs from three self-released solo albums. “Jump”, from his first album, won Rupee repeated Road March titles at carnivals in Barbados, New York, Miami, Boston and Toronto. “Tempted to Touch”, from his second album, enjoyed over two years of international club play, spreading to urban and pop radio in Toronto and Miami. It became the catalyst for Rupee’s worldwide deal with Atlantic Records, as well as the first single from his newly released 1 on 1.
Before deciding to pursue music full-time, Rupee explored other careers. After completing an associate degree in Graphic Arts from the Barbados Community College, he remained in that field for some time, working with two public relations/advertising agencies in Barbados.