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Chutney Music 101

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Chutney Music Basics :

The islands in the Caribbean that were once British usually have large Indian populations, including Trinidad and Tobago, the home of Chutney. Chutney music is a combination of traditional Indian music, soca and calypso, and it takes its name from the spicy Indian condiment of the same name.

The Sound of Chutney Music:

Chutney music sounds a great deal like soca, which is also influenced by Indian rhythms, but takes the sound a bit further, combining not only classical Indian sounds, but also the sounds of modern Indian filmi/Bollywood music.

Lyrics and Language:

Chutney music is sung primarily in English, Hindi and Bojhpuri. The lyrics of Chutney were traditionally religious in nature, but nowadays take on many of the good-time (occasionally bawdy) lyrics that are common in all genres of modern Caribbean music, including soca and reggae.

The Appeal of Chutney Music:

While Indian music is sometimes daunting to a casual or new listener, Chutney is fun, accessible and highly danceable party music. It's popular in both India and in the East Indies, and in those ethnic communities in cities like Tampa, Miami and New York.

Important Chutney Artists:

Sundar Popo was the first Chutney musician to have a major Caribbean-wide hit with his funny song "Nana and Nani" in 1970. Other popular Chutney musicians include Rikki Jai, Neeshan Prabhoo, Adesh Samaroo and Babla & Kanchan.

Chutney Music Starter CDs:

You might have a tough time getting ahold of chutney CDs, unless you happen to live in a city with a large Indian or East Indian population. However, there are a few fun compilations readily available that are certainly worth a listen. Try compilations like Hot and Spicy Chutney (purchase/download). , and keep your eyes open if you're in a store that seems to stock a good selection of East Indian and Caribbean music. Many chutney releases are limited-run items, so they are actually easier to find in brick-and-mortar stores than online.
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