God has to be a Trini. After all, the music of this small twin-island state has reached and impacted people of ethnic back- grounds you would never have guessed it would. In 2010, a 21-year-old Japanese chutney singer will be taking part in the first World Chutney Monarch competition. What's even more admirable is that this chutney singer is already working the circuit and gaining favour among locals.
Who is she?
She's Barbie Japan–a former model-turned-chutney artiste, and from the look of things, she's quite familiar with the local Carnival scene and the dynamics of the competitions. The National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, which is presided over by Dr Vijay Ramlal-Rai, has extended invitations for participation, to countries around the world, including Japan, Holland, Suriname, Jamaica and England, among others. They have been asked to select a maximum of two entrants who will go through preliminary and semifinal rounds before the Carnival-time competition. Japan has taken the lead, though, with their single entrant being Barbie Japan. With her tiny yet attractive physical structure, her personable smile and sultry vocals to match, it's clear that Japan has serious ambition to make it to the finals.
Love for T&T
Her visit to Trinidad will include the production of her 2010 chutney offering and a video to boot. Earlier, Japan teamed up with producer Big Rich and worked with local chutney artiste Hitman, on a track called Kainpai, which according to Barbie, means "cheers" in Japanese. The song is said to be a hit in Japan, as it offers the "drink lover" something to relate to. Having played mas with both Legacy and Evolution, Barbie is no stranger to T&T. She says she loves the food–particularly callaloo and roti, and listens to soca music in Japan. In fact, it was while listening to soca on the radio that she discovered the chutney genre that she's come to embrace. Now, although her previous chutney track was sung in Japanese, Barbie told the Guardian that next year she will strive to sing in English for the competition.
A plus for sponsors
The World Chutney Monarch has presented this competition as a win-win situation for sponsors wishing to get involved, as it is a worldwide competition that will afford tremendous exposure. Ramlal-Rai explained that during talks with Culture Minister Marlene MacDonald, she recommended that sponsors be approached for financing. The national leg of the competition takes place in November and those wishing to be a part of it can contact: