classical chutney singer: Ramrajie Prabhu

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'Chutney Queen of World' is Prabhu

By Ariti Jankie

Classical chutney singer Ramrajie Prabhu will receive the "Chutney Queen of the World" title at Himalaya Club, Third Avenue, Barataria on Sunday.

She will sing 20 top classical chutney songs in a "One for One Classical and Chutney Clash" with Boodram Holass of Chatham in a friendly match.

Born at Mission Road, Freeport Prabhu grew up with parents who were dedicated singers. She began singing from an early age and shot to fame in the 1970's when she entered the popular weekly television contest Mastana Bahar. She was married at the age of 16, and is the mother of four sons.

President of the National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Vijay Ramlal Rai said that Prabhu was one of the unsung heroes of classical chutney.

"She is the best female classical chutney singer in the world," he said adding that the popularity of classical chutney was on the comeback.

He said that Prabhu kept the music pure and had the perfect voice for classical singing.

"She has a repertoire of songs that is unmatched. She can easily hold her own with any Indian classical singer the world over," he said.

Prabhu, 51, of Longdenville, Chaguanas said that for many years she feared that the era of classical singing had ended.

"There was a lack of respect for classical chutney artistes and many of us failed to find work over the past few years," she said.

Working as a taxi driver, the singer who spend many years cutting cane at the former Caroni (1975) Limited estate said that the illness of her husband Mohan Prabhu forced her to find ways of making money to pay for his medical treatment.

On bed with severe kidney problems, he requires dialysis frequently, she said.

"I went back to classical singing and organised a first show at Himalaya Club. It was a tremendous success," she said adding that since then she has been receiving a number of singing engagements.

The show also features Rasika Dindial of "Maticoor Night" fame, Jairam and Hemlata Dindial, Jairaj Singh, Lily Ramcharan and Prabhu's four sons Naresh, Nirmal, Neeshan "Hitman" Prabhu and Navin Prabhu.

It starts at 1 p.m. Rajkumar Krishna Persad will be the Master of Ceremonies.

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