• 24 Jun, 2024

Remembering Indo-Caribbean Musician Rennie Ramnarine of Trinidad

Remembering Indo-Caribbean Musician Rennie Ramnarine of Trinidad

Remembering Indo-Caribbean Musician Rennie Ramnarine of Trinidad

Rennie Ramnarine of the popular Dil-E-Nandan orchestra of Trinidad died last Monday September 4. He died of renal failure; he has been on dialysis since 2019. He was 51. He leaves to mourn his wife and three children. Condolences to his family and loved ones! His father Ramnarine “Tole" Moonilal, died last January, also a giant in Indian music. Indian Trinidad lost Anil Bheem earlier this year.

Rennie was a Trinidadian icon, a role model for the youth. He comes from a popular family of musicians and singers including younger brother Raymond. The family is very popular and well regarded throughout Trinidad. They dominated entertainment in Gasparillo, the sugar plantation that depended on Indian labor from 1845. Gasparillo would become the cultural capital of Indian Trinidadians.

rennie-ramnarine
 

Many people may not know Rennie as well as his bother Raymond who is enormously popular among Indo-Caribbean people. Rennie was also very good vocalist like his brother Raymond but has been out of public view for the last five years because of illness. Also, he is not as well traveled as Raymond since he developed health problems. But he has made significant contributions to Indo-Caribbean musical and vocal entertainment. He was an outstanding singer with an amazing repertoire. He performed all over Trinidad at concerts, weddings, Mastana Bahar, chutney competitions, and more while with the family band. He also sang at mandirs and pujas rendering devotional bhajans. He has an impressive list of popular songs he recorded. A favorite was “Ek Pyar Ka Nagama”, that he recorded with his daughter, Samara.

tribute-rennie-ramnarine


 

Rennie carried about himself well and commanded respect. And he made a case for government support for Indian artistes who have faced racial discrimination from succeeding governments. His passing is a tremendous loss to the Indo-Caribbean music industry and entertainment. And not surprisingly tributes flowed from local Indian artistes and prominent community leaders as well as Indian politicians. He was an acclaimed singer and musician who helped to put the Indian Trinidadian, Indo-Caribbean chutney and remix (redone of Bollywood hits) on the global Indo-Caribbean stage. Rennie was among the best guitarist, a master of the trade, in the Indian musical industry of the Caribbean. Rennie’s reputation as a singer/musician was built on the heritage of Indian Trinis and other Indo-Caribbean people in the Caribbean and the diaspora.

He began his musical entertainment career since a child growing up accompanying his father and brothers with the band to cultural variety concerts and shows. He toured Guyana, Canada, USA and several other countries entertaining large Indo-Caribbean diaspora crowds. He was very instrumental in popularising chutney and remix. He did a lot when it came to promoting and preserving Indian local Indo-Caribbean culture on the world stage. He brought chutney, local talent, and remix of popular Bollywood hits to the attention of the public and mainstream media.

Indo-Trinis have to give credit and respect to this outstanding singer and guitarist. We have to recognise his contributions to Indian culture – entertainment and Hinduism. While his presence on stage over the last five years has been missing and now with his death will be sorely missed, his musical works and legacy will live on.

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a fourth generation Indian. His great grandparents from both his mother and father’s sides were born in India -- Gurbatore from Ghaizpur, Amru from Azamgarh, Sau from Chapra, Mangri from Mau, Bhuri and Bhura Singh from Bharatpur, among others. They all came at different times to then British Guiana (1880s and 1890s) to work on sugar plantations as indentured laborers. After serving ten years, they were freed laborers. They remained on the colony rather than returned to India, married and had children. They used the savings from indentureship to purchase landholdings to cement their ties to their adopted land. They were not given free land. Vishnu Bisram is ninth of twelve children of Gladys and Baldat, rural farmers, she also was a seamstress and he a taylor and they attended to a kitchen garden as well. Vishnu attended the St Joseph Anglican (called English) primary school from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, he passed the annual nationwide Common Entrance exam winning a scholarship place to attend the government Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, some 17 miles from his home village of Ankerville, Port Mourant. He declined the placement scholarship and opted instead for the private Chandisingh High School to which his family pad to pay a tuition. He entered for eight subjects at the Cambridge University Exam in 1977. Vishnu migrated to the USA in 1977 to further his studies. He enrolled at the City College of City University of New York September that year at age 17, studying Bio-Chemistry and also completing a major in Political Science. After his BSc in Bio-Chem, he pursued graduate studies in International Relations earning a MA. He went on to complete multiple post graduate degrees including doctorates in Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science and Educational Administration. Dr Bisram taught for over forty years in various subjects in the US. He also served as a newspaper reporter and columnist for over four decades and is a well-known pollster in the Caribbean region. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling extensively around the globe to research and write about Indian communities. He published countless articles on various subjects in the mass media, journals, and books. He also organized international conferences on the Indian diaspora and presented papers at many conferences. He was a guest lecturer at universities in Mauritius, India, Fiji, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, USA, and other countries. He is a well regarded political analyst on American and Caribbean politics. He makes him home in Guyana, Trinidad, and America and travels frequently to India.