TRINIDAD and Tobago has lost one of its cultural exponents in the form of Anand Yankarran.
Yankarran, 51, died of a heart attack at the Couva District Hospital at about 7.30 am yesterday.
News of his death sent chutney song lovers, locally and as far as the United States and Canada, into grief.
His wife, Vidia, told Newsday yesterday that Yankarran woke up early and was preparing to go for dialysis treatment. “He was in a good mood speaking and smiling,” Vidia said. “Then, soon after he complained of chest pains, he was rushed to the Couva Hospital where he died.” Scores of chutney singers expressed their condolences and several of his fans took to Facebook to remember the man who they hailed as the King of Chutney.
Yankarran, who was born on February 9, 1965 at Brickfield Village, Waterloo, Carapichaima, was a member of this country’s most prominent East Indian family of singers and musicians dating back to his father the late Isaac Yankarran who passed away in 1969 at the age of 37 from heart disease.
Yankarran (Anand) was the sixth of seven children. His brother, Rakesh, is also well-known in the industry.
Yankarran, who was awarded a Chaconia Medal – Silver in 1991, has been singing East Indian compositions since he was ten years old, the family said yesterday, and skyrocketed to musical fame when he released the sensational number, Nanda Baba in 1998. It was a traditional chutney piece which earned Yankarran a top spot on local radio frequencies.
He then began to travel abroad to perform and delivered consecutive chutney hits. One such song, Jo Jo-Tarsey Meira Jeera, released in 2007, earned Yankarran five awards in the 103 FM’s Hall of Fame and Music Awards. He won the awards for Best Lyricist, Best Male Chutney Artiste, Courts Trini Hit, Song of the Year and TSTT’S People’s Choice. He created history by becoming the first ever Chutney Road March Champion of this country. His prize was a new Mitsubishi Lancer — the same prize awarded to that Soca Road March champ Machel Montano for his song Jumbie.
In 2000, Yankarran took up residence in New York where he joined performers from India across several States, composing hits such as, Malineya, Humsa Bolaway, Laylo Laylo, Nanda Baba, Gunguroo Bajay, Indra Puri Say, Soch Samajh Abhiman, Ranga Dall, Bola Baba, Kya Kar Mai, Janay Maha and Zindabad Trinbago, which was recorded on his first album Victory went on to become one of the more popular jingles in TT.
He studied music theory with musicians Bansraj Ramkissoon, Mungal Patasar, Pradip Shankar, Sunil Verma and Kavita Verma.
Rakesh, his brother, taught him how to play the harmonium but he was also versatile with the dholak, tabla and sitar. In May of 2008, Yankarran suffered a stroke on the right side of his body which caused him to be warded at hospital but, upon release, he shot back into the chutney limelight with a new CD titled, Anand Strikes Back.
Yankarran leaves to mourn his wife, and daughter, Deepa, 31, of Calcutta Road, Freeport.
Expressing condolences to the Yankarran family yesterday, Opposition MP for Couva North Ramona Ramdial, described him as the East Indian classical and chutney musical icon. President of the National Chutney Foundation Dr Vijay Ramlal and Chutney Soca Monarch promoter, George Singh, said Yankarran was a true musical pioneer and his passing is a great loss to the local East Indian music industry Chairman of the Divali Nagar, Surujdeo Mangaroo, said, “Anand was one of the sons of classical singing legend Isaac Yankarran, who contributed immensely to the cultural landscape of Trinidad and by extension, the Caribbean.
His passing will be a great loss to culture in this country.” President of the National Council for Indian Culture Dr Deokinanan Sharma, extended deepest condolences to the bereaved family.
Opposition MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal, said Yankarran’s death has robbed Trinidad and Tobago and the international musical community of one of its most accomplished, versatile and respected entertainers.
“For a generation, the gifted Yankarran was an acclaimed chutney, crossover, bhajan and classical singer, performing his own compositions in his inimitable dynamic style in musical capitals around the world.” Reigning Chutney Soca Monarch KI Persad described Yankarran as a legend.
“So much could be said about him, his passion, his love for people and culture, his dedication to the artform, having hits after hits in the chutney arena,” Persad said on his Facebook page. “I had the privilege of being on stage with him as a kid with our band JMC 3veni. Mr. Yankarran was the one who introduced us and my dad Veerendra Persad to the late Mohan Jaikaran when my dad produced one of his albums “Soca Beta” in 1992 that took the band under the JMC label out of New York City. We also played on many international shows backing him up. On behalf of our family, our band KI and the Band, we send our condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”