‘Mash in Guyana’ turns 20

Rudy Grant’s infectious “Mash in Guyana”, which has become the unofficial anthem of Mashramani has been going strong for 20 years and though he modestly says it comes as a surprise, there were early indications it was going to be around for a long time.

Since Mashramani 1987 the song has enjoyed lengthy airplay on the local radio in the months leading up to the February 23 celebrations. It spans some two generations and its catchy lyrics remain on the lips of many even now.

The soca explosion and the rise of countless local entertainers within the last few years have not affected the popularity of Rudy’s song. After 20 years it still has that feel good sensation.

Rudy Grant told us he was in Guyana in 1986 after years of living in England and had met popular broadcaster Pancho Carew. He had already recorded the song “Move up Starsky” and Carew asked whether he could do something for Mashramani.

“When he said Mashramani I had no idea what he was talking about. I had never heard of it and nothing was coming to mind. After he explained it to me and also revealed that there were not many local songs to play for the celebrations I decided to write a song,” Rudy said.

Shortly after he sat down and wrote the lyrics. Rudy said he toyed around with the word Mashramani for a while but settled on the shorter version — Mash. When he returned to England he immediately contacted friends who were in music and together they recorded the song and had the track lain in a day.

There was Errol Reid on keyboard; Eddie Hines playing sax; Jonesy on steel, Patrick Daniels arranged brass and Paul Brown and Alpine Grant were the engineers. Rudy said Wayne Nunes and a girl named Claire were also part of the team. While the back-up vocals were done by Jackie Robinson and Pauline and Maria Grant.

“Mash in Guyana” was originally recorded at Coach House Studio in England, which is owned by Rudy’s brother Alpine Grant, but was mixed at Hollywood Studio also in the UK. It was then mastered at the CBS cutting room in West End, London.

Rudy said he cut a demo of the tape and sent it to Pancho Carew back in Guyana. The following morning he was in his car listening to the song and was moved to tears.

“At the time I had no idea why I was crying. Twenty years later I know why. The song is now an anthem for Mashramani and people still embrace it.”

Rudy said when he debuted the song in England at the Notting Hill Carnival it had a tremendous impact. It immediately went to number one on the first soca chart in London in the Black Echoes music paper.

Rudy believes “Mash in Guyana” has survived for so long because of how good the song is and the excellent production that went into it. ianaseales@yahoo.com

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