How Is Ravi B Keeping the Legacy Alive For Illuminate 24?

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By Michael Mondezie

A rich home grown family legacy. That’s what three-time Chutney Soca Monarch Ravi B (Ravi Bissambhar) is bringing back to his hometown Sangre Grande next Saturday.

Ravi B and his band Karma will stage the second edition of “Homecoming”, this year entitled “Illuminate” on February 3, at Tantra Terraces, Sangre Grande.

“Grande is home and home is where the heart is. I am homegrown and keeping the legacy of the Bissambhar family name strong and alive not only within Grande, but the music fraternity as a whole is important to me as an artiste in helping me remain grounded and remembering where I came from,” an emotive Ravi B told the Kitcharee Friday afternoon.

The “Ah Drinka” singer pledged to bring the biggest and brightest stars in soca music to his hometown when he launched the annual series last year.

Ravi B revealed “fellow east man” Cumuto-born reigning Road March King Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez), his wife three-time Road March winner Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez and their Viking Band will lead the list of special guests.

Ravi’s sister Nisha B, Grande-born crossover singer Coutain (Denzil Coutain), songstress Nailah Blackman, chutney singers Nishard M (Nishard Mayrhoo) and Rasika Dindial, Vincentian soca star Problem Child (Shertz James), New York-based singer/produce GBM Nutron (Jason Carter) and dancehall/soca acts Yung Bredda (Akhenaton Lewis), Jahllano (Llano Grant) and Tempa (Rebecca Alexander) are all set to appear.

“For years we’ve lacked a show of this calibre far east. For some it may seem like a risk, but for me it’s being able to offer this kind of production and opportunity to fans and people who may choose to remain within their homebase for a taste of Carnival. Bunji is another gem of the east and I’m happy to bring him back home also,” Ravi B explained.

An all-round entertainer

After adding event promoter to his growing list of titles Ravi B says he wants to be seen as an all-round entertainer.

This Carnival Ravi has released two chutney soca tracks in “Situationship” and “Shirley Gyal”. He has also put out three soca tracks in the single “Non Stop”, “Ah Didn’t Mean It” on Rebel Muzik’s Mango Skin Riddim and “Drinkz” which features German-born soca act Nessa Preppy (Vanessa John).

“I’ll admit it’s a bit of a challenge sometimes to remove the label of being a ‘soca artiste’ or a ‘chutney artiste’. I consider myself an entertainer,” he explained.

Conceding that chutney soca has gotten some blows from critics over the years for its often chauvinistic and alcohol-fuelled lyrics Ravi B says both creators and consumers needed to “step out the box” and support the culture.

“There may be some negative connotations towards the content traditionally offered in the chutney soca genre, but that’s not limited to only chutney soca. I think generally we need to do better as a people in supporting our culture and my focus is an artiste is simply to continue stepping out of the comfort zones and offer good music regardless of the genre,” he vowed.

The growing interest in chutney soca from music makers in the Indian subcontinent and their willingness to collaborate with T&T acts is a testament to the growth and global potential of the music, he argued. 

Together with his siblings, brother Anil and sister Nisha, Ravi says Karma remains committed to keeping the Bissambhar musical legacy alive in honour of their father Jewanlal “Buzzy” Bissambhar.

“I mentioned earlier about keeping the Bissambhar legacy alive and it’s something me and my siblings are proud to do in memory of our father. We owe it to him and to those who would come after us.

“Each of my siblings play an important role in both my professional and personal development – I just can’t do it without them and this includes my entire family. As with all families, there would be misunderstandings, but it’s because of that we are able to grow and learn – family is forever and we’ve definitely stood the test of time,” Ravi said.

Commenting on the spiralling national crime rate, increase in murders and widespread gang violence Ravi says the answers start at home.

“I’ve always maintained that respect begins at home, so let’s start there. Let’s start with setting better examples for our young ones. And to those young ones, remember you always have a choice, if you look back at some of the greatest feats ever achieved in history , it did not come easy.

“There are many examples of young persons achieving great things under sometimes challenging circumstances—let them be an inspiration to you. While there may be negative influences, there are also many positive influences—so focus on what’s right,” Ravi B concluded.

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