Trinidad and Tobago and India are set to jointly celebrate Independence Day with a cultural exchange in the heart of Hindustan’s capital in September.
The T&T High Commission in India has partnered with the Government of India and destination promoter Soca on the Seas to host ‘Connection’, an open music exchange, on September 2 in New Delhi.
India celebrates 75 years of independence on August 15. T&T will celebrate 60 years of autonomy 16 days later, on the 31st. The Connection concert will feature T&T’s two-time Chutney Soca Monarch alumnus Neval Chatelal, veteran calypso/soca crooner Roger George, chutney comedian Savita Singh and the panist Johann Chuckaree. Guyana-born, US-based soca chutney star Terry Gajraj will also appear.
T&T’s High Commissioner to India, Dr. Roger Gopaul, said cultural collaborations like the upcoming showcase can only strengthen the unique bond between T&T and India.
“Cultural exchange between India and Trinidad and Tobago has been going on for nearly 177 years. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence and the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. The two nations are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations.
“Cultural diplomacy such as this initiative ignites the deep friendship and support shared by the people and leaders of India and Trinidad and Tobago. Cultural exchanges and cooperation continue to dominate the agenda and strengthen the friendship and economic ties between our countries.
“The Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in New Delhi is delighted to welcome Neval and his team to India for a great culture fusion,” Dr Gopaul told the Express in a WhatsApp exchange yesterday. .
An opportunity to share openly
Chatelal, who played a huge role in bringing all parties together for the groundbreaking gig, says the upcoming India tour provides a unique opportunity to share T&T’s hybrid sound and collaborate directly with musicians in India.
The Connection concert will be one of three events hosted by Soca on the Seas in India from September 1-7, Chatelal said. The cast will then travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where they will host the Dubai City Tour and Dhow Cruise on September 8.
Chatelal said he jumped at the chance to play a significant role in planning and executing the tour after being approached by Soca on the Seas manager Juliana Fermin earlier this year.
“I’ve had this association with Juliana and Soca and the Seas from the beginning. We’ve always done these tours on cruise ships. When she decided to venture into land tours and said she was going to India , I immediately started thinking about opportunities for collaboration to mark (the) 60th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago,” Chatelal explained.
A polite inquiry with the T&T High Commission office in Delhi led to Indian government approval and support for a full celebration, he revealed. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the event.
“They were on board and quickly elevated and escalated the event, and made it free to the public, in conjunction with the Indian government. They provide the venue, the stage and the marketing, and allowed us to name the event and produce the show. Now we are talking to musicians in India to collaborate with us at the concert. It will be amazing to explore the intertwined music of T&T and India, and incorporate both into our own production,” Chatelal said.
Extend the reach of local music
Fermin, meanwhile, says taking T&T music to pristine locations is the best way to expand the market reach of local musicians.
“I always wanted to bring the T&T culture to India. For me, I actually live my scrapbook, because in elementary school we had to choose a country that we most wanted to visit and I chose India.
“Being in the travel business, I had the opportunity to visit India on several occasions, and that’s where we wanted to take the Soca on the Seas brand next. We are known for our cruises, but we couldn’t sail to India. We are now branching out to land events and India is just the start of our Soca on the Seas destination events,” Fermin explained in a WhatsApp call yesterday.
Fermin said their four events will feature calypso, soca, chutney soca and pan in equal measure, to give new audiences a feel for the sounds of T&T. She said the invitation was open to people from T&T and across the Caribbean and its Diaspora to register and be part of the experience.
“We couldn’t put together a better team. We’re going to take them back to the days of Kitchener and Sparrow, and update them with soca and soca chutney and Johann on pan. I think it’s a good representation of who we are culturally. I don’t think I could have asked for a better cast. The door is open for people to join us and share the experience and bring the vibe to India and Dubai,” Fermin concluded.
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Epic India Tour Schedule
• September 2: Connections concert,
• September 4: Jaipur
• September 6 – Agra
• September 8: Dubai city tour
and dhow cruise