By Wayne Bowman
WHEN Renuka Mahabir took the stage with the band Dil-E-Nadan (DEN) at the Soka in Moka Fete on New Year’s Day, patrons, especially the men, took notice asking, where did the Ramnarine brothers find this gorgeous young woman? They next began to comment on the powerful vocals coming from the rather petite lady.
Mahabir recently joined DEN as female lead vocalist, enhancing the frontline she now commands alongside Raymond Ramnarine and Derek Seales. Though relatively new to the band she holds her own quite well on all fronts, vocally and physically as far as stage presence is concerned.
The young woman from Sangre Grande who attended the Guaico Presbyterian School, Lakshmi Girls’ High School and UWI is very comfortable being around a lot of people having drinks, partying and having a good time as she grew up in the presence of such.
‘I grew up in Sangre Grande where I’ve lived all my life. My parents own a bar with a shop attached to it and I used to be there with them all day as a child. When I started going to school, after school mom would sit with me in the shop
and teach me my school work while she attended to customers. She was very hands-on with me, even though tending the shop and bar was hectic,’ Mahabir said.
Mahabir’s interest in music and performing began to develop early, but there were people around who attempted to sway her from pursuing a career in music. She, however, was determined to pursue it and decided that regardless of the challenges she knew she would face, she would persevere and overcome.
‘There were always critics, both seeking to be constructive and destructive but I learned to accept any form of criticism that came positively and use it as a stepping stone. A lot a people said I shouldn’t pursue music, because there’s no success in music and singing but, the more I heard it the more I was determined to prove them wrong.
‘I could try to explain in words what singing means to me and where I want to be musically but no one could understand how much I wanted it and the view that I held in my mind of how much I wanted to succeed as a singer. I went after my dream in spite of what people were saying,’ Mahabir said.
It seems that Mahabir, even if she did not wish to have a music career, everything around her was leading her into that direction.
‘There was always a radio on in my house and every morning I would wake up to religious songs. Then mom was always singing her bhajans and my dad was an Indian classical singer who took part in Mastana Bahaar and other local classical competitions, so from a very young age I was exposed to music and a musical way of life so that I keenly gravitated towards music with an overflowing passion and drive for it.’
‘A variety of genres grabbed my interest among them Bollywood, rock, pop, reggae, soca, R& B and dancehall. All thanks to my big sister and her playlist mix. Growing up in the bar, my parents were huge fans of vintage soca and calypso including calypsonians like Sparrow and Kitchener, so this was the lovely mix of feel-good music that I grew up with.’
‘When I was very little, for my sister’s birthday, she got a small keyboard which I just adopted as mine (laughs) and from then playing keyboard has been my second love, after singing. I also play the guitar which was inspired by a music video of Michelle Branch some years ago. She was singing her song ‘Everywhere’ and she had her guitar in her hand, and I said to myself… I wanna be like her… I want a guitar too (laughs),’ Mahabir said.
A Pharmacist attached to the Eastern Regional
Health Authority, Mahabir was a member of two other bands before she was invited to join DEN. Back then she performed mainly Bollywood songs, but DEN affords her the opportunity to perform a multitude of genres including calypso, soca, ragga soca and reggae.
got that call after some time… and had never been so excited and nervous at the same time. I was in.’ Now that Mahabir is a part of a band she has listened to and loved for years, she wants to use her musical platform to help make positive changes in the nation. ‘My goal is to continue to use music, the music I make and perform, to bring and inspire positivity and unity among the youth and to Trinidad and Tobago as a whole. I want to help people, especially the youth, to realise that by having faith in yourself and with determination, they can be anything they want to be and do whatever great things they desire. Because when you really look at reality, life is too short to not do what you really want to do or be whoever you wish to be,’ said Mahabir.