The Legacy of Ustad Yusuff Khan
Yusuff Khan (1943-91) was a singing sensation in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Born 1943 at Ben Lomond, Williamsville, Yussuff singing career was moulded by the influence of his father and Pandit Ramnarine Maharaj.
A father of eight children-six girls and two boys, Yusuff was a founding member of the popular Dil-e-Nadan Orchestra along with Frankie Sooklal and Fyzool ‘Dilip’ Bally. His outstanding renditions attracted the admiration of many and in 1962, at age 22, he was invited by Moen Mohammed to perform in the program “Sunday Morning Indian Hour” on Radio Trinidad.
In 1962 Yusuff won the Local Independence Singing Competition with the rendition “Sab koi Trinidadian and Tobagonian.” Yusuff went on to win many prizes, trophies and awards and in 1972 was a contestant in the grand finals of Mastana Bahar.
Yusuff was a regular contestant in the annual Mastana Bahar Indian Cultural Pageant. With the sobriquet Mighty Crepsole, Yusuff went on to provide his fans with hits such as Mor Man Laga, Mastana Bahar, Trinidad aur Tobago ki Jai Jai and Indian Singing.
His LP records include Haunting Melodies of Yusuff Khan, Yusuff Khan Sings Again, Garam Massala, Battle of Giants-Yusuff Khan verus K.B. Singh and Tent Singing by our Classical Masters.
Some of Yusuff’s more popular songs are:
Rahareeya Kee Patiya, Ayodha Aisee dhaam, Brindaban Basi Gao Mathura Ki Chor, Dukh Haro Dwarika Nath, Aaj Sawaliya Sasur Ghar Jana, Koi Nahi Hai gayr baba, Laagi SawanKi Mahinwa, Bhaji Dasrath Rajkumar, Manush Roop, Sultan Banay Baitee and Aab Dhoobeeya Jalabi Marta Piyasa.
Yusuff went on musical tours to Guyana, Surinam, Holland, Canada and the USA. Accompanying Yusuff on tours were Zoon Ramcharran, Frankie Sooklal, Teeka Boodram, Ramsumar and Keso.
Yusuff was always ready to pass on his talent to the younger generation. Among the many trained by him were Rawle Ramjitsingh, Heeralal Rampartap, Ravi Jagroop, Devanand Sookram, Sputnik and Lily Ramcharan-Moon.
Lily-Ramcharran-Moon, a stalwart of local Indian Classical singing, had this to say about the late singer:
‘Yusuff –nobody could match his voice and delivery. He was known as the Bengal Tiger of Classical Singing. The closest to Yusuff’s voice is Boodram Holass.”
On May 30, 2011 the Williamsville Historical Days and Festivals Committee honoured the legacy of Yusuff Khan with a plaque. The event took place at the Brothers’ Recreation Ground, Garth Road, Williamsville. The highlight of the program was the rendition of Yusuff’s songs by his chela Devanand Sookram.
In presenting the plaque to the daughter of Yusuff Khan Radhay Lochandass, Public Relations Officer of the Williamsville Festivals Committee, remarked: “ Yusuff Khan was fondly called Pyaar by his friends and the people of Ben Lomond and was an employee of the Victoria County Council (now Princes Town Regional Corporation). He was my friend and an inspiration to us all. Today the Williamsville Festivals Committee is proud to honour this son of the soil.”