The organisers of national chutney and soca contests find Nirmal “Massive” Gosine’s song about the Prime Minister’s mother so offensive that they’ve told him he can’t count on performing his song on their stages for Carnival 2018.
Promoter of the annual Chutney Soca Monarch competition George Singh described the song, Rowley Mother Count, as downright distasteful.
Adding his voice yesterday to the condemnation was the secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, who told Newsday he objected to all forms of obscenity.
Maharaj said, “Whether it takes the form of songs, calypsoes, speeches, or whether it takes the form of obscene dances at Carnival time, obscenity is wrong.”
But he added that it was hypocritical for the PNM Women’s League to raise objections when it had remained silent when other people’s mothers were being maligned in political speeches. Maharaj said, “They are all poor role models for our children and we are seeing the effects of it now in violence and misbehaviour across the land.” On Saturday, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis condemned the song in her capacity as chair of the PNM’s Women’s League, describing it as loathsome and offensive to all mothers.
Gosine has also earned the wrath of president of the National Chutney Foundation Dr Vijay Ramlal, who described the song’s ostensible reference to the prime minister’s mother as an abuse of the musical art form and “utter disrespect.”
The song, produced by popular arranger Leston Paul, has not been played on the radio since it was produced two weeks ago. In it Gosine sings about Dr Keith Rowley’s mother planting and selling vegetables. She falls victim to thieves, then counts her losses.
The chorus of “Rowley mudder count” is being deemed by commentators on social media and others as carrying a double meaning, with most posters convinced there is an intended insult to the prime minister in the pun on the female genitals.
In his response, Gosine, a chutney singer of 22 years’ standing as a singer/composer, justified his song by referring the PNM to past calypsoes such as Oma Account Big, Paul, Your Mudder Come, and Your Mudder Can’t. He also said the complaints about the song had attracted more attention to it and brought him more bookings to perform.
Gosine has been a finalist on numerous occasions in both the Chutney Soca Monarch and the National Chutney Foundation competitions. The producers of these national events receive millions of dollars from the government, some of which goes into generous prizes.
But Singh told Newsday he has listened to Gosine’s song and it was decided that it will not be a contender in the 2018 Chutney Soca Monarch competition.
In fact, Singh said, he has already informed the singer about its being in poor taste. “I have already indicated to Massive Gosine that he should not count on this song being in the Chutney Soca Monarch. While the double entendre is funny, this song is downright distasteful.”
Chutney songs eligible for the competition, Singh reminded, are also determined by their popularity on the airwaves.
“And I know for a fact that the Indo radio stations are not playing this song.
“I do not think one should use the art form to lash out in such a way, especially when it comes to a person’s mother.”
In years gone by, Singh said, the competition has received heavy blows for songs with poor lyrical content, but there has been vast improvement in recent times, with composers and singers putting out fewer “rum songs.” And while songs with double entendre always hold the attention of fans of chutney and calypso, Singh said, Gosine has taken it “too low and it is not good for public consumption.”
So upset was Ramlal about the reference in the song, he told Newsday, that immediately on hearing it, he phoned Gosine and asked him to change the word “count” to “vex.” Ramlal said, “I am a Hindu and in Hinduism we worship women as God. We pay the highest respect to the goddess and when it comes to someone’s mother, you have to show the highest level of respect.”
Ramlal said Gosine had in the past entered the annual competition sponsored by the foundation. But in this song, he said, there is obvious reference to a curse word and he is firm in his belief that the singer has disrespected all mothers. Ramlal said he had known the Prime Minister’s late mother and the song was very irreverent to her.
“Rowley’s mother is no part of anything, as I know her selling in the Breakfast Shed. We are supposed to set a standard where local compositions are concerned.”
He shared Senior Counsel Israel Khan’s view that Gosine should withdraw the song.
The promoter of Chutney Brass, Randy Glasgow, said yesterday he had not listened to all the lyrics of the song.