(As the nation observes the 176th anniversary of Indian Arrival in Trinidad and Tobago, ICDN.TODAY is proud to pay tribute to Ustad Yussuf Khan for his contribution to the development of culture.)
Yussuf Khan (1943-91) was a singing sensation in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Born 1943 at Ben Lomond, Williamsville, Yussuf singing career was moulded by the influence of his father and Pandit RamnarineMaharaj.
A father of eight children – six girls and two boys, Yussuf was a foundation 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 Yussuf won the Local Independence Singing Competition with the rendition “Sab koi Trinidadian and Tobagonian.” Yussuf went on to win many prizes, trophies and awards and in 1972 was a contestant in the grand finals of Mastana Bahaar.
Yussuf was a regular contestant in the annual Mastana Bahaar Indian Cultural Pageant. With the sobriquet Mighty Crepsole, Yussuf 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 Yusuf Khan, Yusuf Khan Sings Again, Garam Massala, Battle of Giants – Yussuf Khan versus K.B. Singh and Tent Singing by our Classical Masters.
Some of Yussuf’s more popular songs are:
Rahareeya Kee Patiya, Ayodha Aiseedhaam, Brindaban Basi Gao Mathura Ki Chor, Dukh Haro Dwarika Nath, Aaj Sawaliya Sasur Ghar Jana, Koi Nahi Haigayr baba, Laagi Sawan KiMahinwa, Bhaji Dasrath Rajkumar, Manush Roop, Sultan Banay Baitee and Aab Dhoobeeya Jalabi Marta Piyasa.
Yussuf went on musical tours to Guyana, Surinam, Holland, Canada and the USA. Accompanying Yussuf on tours were Zoon Ramcharran, Frankie Sooklal, Teeka Boodram, Ramsumar and Keso.
Yussuf 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:
‘Yussuf –nobody could match his voice and delivery. He was known as the Bengal Tiger of Classical Singing. The closest to Yusuf’s voice is Boodram Holass.”
On May 30, 2011 the Williamsville Historical Days and Festivals Committee honoured the legacy of Yussuf 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 Yussuf’s songs by his chela Devanand Sookram.
In presenting the plaque to the daughter of Yussuf Khan Radhay Lochandass, Public Relations Officer of the Williamsville Festivals Committee remarked: “Yussuf 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.”
In 1981 Bhaya started his first Hindi class as a teacher at Pitaji Ramdial residence in Yakusari with the help of Bhai Mohan. More than 20 students were present. “I was happy with the turn out Th.is encouraged me to put forward my best. I happily dedicated my time toward this class and the students’ commitment was equally uplifting.