Sixteen competitors vying for the title of Guyana Chutney Monarch 2013 walked onto the stage of the National Cultural Centre on the night of January 5, but it was Roger Hinds who grabbed the winnings with his song “A Chutney for my Larki”; making history as the first local calypsonian ever to enter and win this competition.
Hinds, who sings under the moniker of Young Bill Rogers, said in an interview with The Scene that he had experienced difficulty at first in composing a suitable song. His original lyrics had to be scrapped for being too harsh against women. He began again and within two days had completed his award winning “A Chutney for my Larki”.
The lyrics are about the whole idea of a true chutney song and its singer. According to the theme, he was invited to India to sing pure Chutney music, and people there were amazed to see an African-Caribbean man singing Chutney music – to their minds this was nothing short of baffling. But it did not take long for their hearts to melt over the diversity of the man and his Chutney style. The song then expresses an Indian girl’s love for the song and her admiration; she kept calling the man to “Come, Come” to sing the Chutney music.
His inspiration for the song came from his passion of diversification. Roger Hinds is a melting pot of talent. He is the Calypso Monarch of 2012 and will be competing for the title again next month and he has also entered the National Health Song Competition.
When composing “A Chutney for my Larki”, he was looking at his chances in the competition. His whole approach to the competition was to show his versatility and how a true Guyanese man is, so his song is a reflection of that.
Hinds said people need to realise that there is a difference between Chutney music and Chutney-Soca. The competition was a Chutney one. Chutney-Soca has Indian tones and Indian instruments with a West Indian beat; pure Chutney is Indian melody with English and Hindi language.
He noted that he followed all the criteria required and to that extent was declared the ultimate winner. Other performers may have easily mixed the two genres of music and therefore what the audience expected to win was really not pure Chutney. “My lyrics tell a lot about Chutney, my Hindi, my melody and everything was that they [the judges] were looking for,” he said.
Asked to describe the mood he was in at the announcement of the winner, he said, “to be honest, at first, I could not believe it when I was declared the winner. Just before the announcement I was a little bit down spirited by hearing the runners-up, I thought to myself that I didn’t make it. But when I heard my name call I couldn’t believe it! I had to take a moment for reality to hit me. It feels good. It is a title; it is an honour…”
The Shakti Strings Orchestra provided the music for the entire evening. Each competitor was scored out of 100 points: 30 points for rendition, 30 points for presentation and 40 points for melody. Hinds triumphed over top competitors such as Fiona Singh who competed for her seventh time this year, Amir Khan, Prince JP and defeated past Chutney Monarch, Haresh Singh.
The best newcomer to the competition was Vinita Willing, who was awarded $100,000. Coming in third and winning $200,000 was Haresh Singh, Fiona Singh came in second and went home with $350,000.
Apart from winning the national title that comes with a trophy a cash award of $550,000, Hinds has earned bragging rights and will also be representing Guyana at the International Chutney-Soca Final on January 26, in Trinidad and Tobago. He is guaranteed a participation salary of US$10,000 and an opportunity to win the International Chutney title which comes with TT$1 million.
The event will be broadcast live on NCN Channel 11 and voting for contestants will be made available through GT&T’s Cellink Mobile.