Ossie springs `Kuch Kuch’ surprise
…seeks sponsorship for video by Nivedta Kowlessar
June 16, 2002
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And it’s not just his tender singing tone, but the soulful lyrics he sometimes masters in another language that compel one to stay tuned.
While the 23-year-old says he has “always been singing”, thanks to a hereditary gift from both paternal and maternal grandparents, it was big sister, Nichole, who helped refine his talent with voice training lessons when he was merely 11 at their Ann’s Grove, East Coast Demerara home.
His first performance in front of an audience was as a 12-year-old student at St Rose’s High School in Georgetown.
But it was friend, Samantha, who propelled him to greater heights, teaching him to sing in Hindi. The two eventually delivered a knockout duet of the Indian hit `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ before a University of Guyana crowd in April, 1999, an experience Ossie says he “would always cherish”.
“At first, I was very nervous because I did not know what response I would get. But everybody was impressed. They wanted to know who was this Black guy belting out all this Hindi,” the final year student going for a degree in Agriculture Science at the University recalled.
After that, promoter Stan Gouveia arranged for Ossie to serenade Bajan soca queen Allison Hinds at the institution’s Turkeyen campus. He chose Enrique Iglesias’ `Hero’.
“She was there looking at me, smiling at me all the time, and the crowd was making so much noise. I decided to cut the song, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and the crowd went wild,” he remembered.
Then it was the national anthem for Jamaican Buju Banton and a line for another Jamaican, Luciano, who urged Ossie to care his voice, saying he “would be somebody great someday”.
“I always have this luck of bumping into these celebrities,” the Taurus-born notes with a tinge of pride.
The links with the famous ones stand out, but his countrymen and women seem most impressed with his `Kuch Kuch’ performance, as expressed in a letter and an article in the newspapers.
“…an item which was interesting to note was a duet between an Indian young lady and a Black young man singing the Indian hit `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, as another young lady did a dance. But obviously more conspicuous to the audience were the singers, particularly the male being Black and excellently letting off the Indian lyrics,” the article in Kaieteur News read.
The letter published in the Guyana Chronicle and Stabroek News said the University event stood out with the song `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ sung by Ossie and that it showed there is still hope for unity in diversity in Guyana. It was something that set an example to the nation in a much divided world, the writer noted.
Ossie, who continues to have “fun” singing in Hindi, said he felt “very encouraged” after that show. “I felt that I was able to adapt to any musical style and the fact that I was accepted, that encouraged me even more.”
The Assistant Manager at Saint Stanislaus Training Centre and part-time Agriculture Science teacher at Saint Stanislaus College in Georgetown also copped the best singer Theatre Arts Award in 2001.
More recently, Ossie won the R&B Flava song contest in Georgetown, a competition he entered by pure chance while out shopping at the CCS stationery store.
As he was singing to himself as usual, he caught the ears of staffer, Sophia Carew, who told him he had a “nice voice” and encouraged him to enter the contest, produced by Chris Wilson. The number of entrants reduced from 22 to about five by the time the show came off at the Sidewalk Café and Ossie had no hard time capturing the first place with his composition `Hooked on Your Love’, arranged by Kros Kolour Records and accompanied by the Code Red band.
“I am always singing, no matter where I am and that’s the reason I won that competition,” he says.
Ossie is thankful to Sophia for spotting his talent and encouraging him to participate in the contest as he says he is now moving to produce a video of the winning four-minute song, which he wrote about seven years ago for his first love, and which is being promoted daily on 98.1 FM radio.
It goes: ȁ…you give me love that draws my soul outside, expose my soul so that I can never hide, I tell you the truth, I can never lie, I will be loving you till the day I die…”
Ossie is seeking sponsorship for the production, which would cost $18,000 - $30,000, and plans to produce an album titled `Hooked’ for which he already has nine compositions. One sounds like a national song - “Oh land of Eldorado, land beneath the shining sun, I can see your children smiling and I’m proud to be your son…”
He also wants to do some concerts and release another song called `All I Have to Share’ - a duet he would like to perform with good friend Candace Field of the Sheriff Deputies Band.
Sister Nichole still gives him voice training lessons and while he hopes to develop his own style, Ossie is hanging onto every note Brian McKnight pulls.
“I respect his versatility, the fact that he arranges his own songs, plays the keyboard and guitar. His poetry is very deep and takes me away,” he says of the multi-talented American.
Ossie is in the meantime getting a lot of encouragement from GTV’s `Guyana Today’ hosts, Donna Shortt-Gill and Nazim Hussain, and Channel Nine’s Basil Bradshaw.
The young man who plays the piano, harmonica, flute and guitar, hopes to learn to read music and says he just plays by ear sound.
“I prefer to accompany myself. It’s something to do with emotion and exactly how I want the back up to sound.”
He also hopes Guyanese are very supportive of his video and dreams of taking his music abroad and eventually “getting some Grammys!”