Ashok Ramchunder, the legendary Indian-origin singer of South Africa known for his ‘chutney’ music, recently passed away at 67. He was fondly called the ‘King of Chutney’ for the way he blended traditional Indian folk songs with indigenous phrases. He was widely popular for belting out compositions in a unique adaptation of the traditional Bhojpuri folk song style, combined with some indigenous language phrases, which found wide appeal locally and abroad, especially in the Caribbean islands because of its similarity to the Calypso music.
He died on Monday (11th April, 2016) in his home town of Phoenix, north of Durban. He was reportedly not been keeping well from some time.
The Phoenix resident was featured in various Radio and TV programmes as well as in several live stage appearances. Among the prolific hits in his 48-year singing career were a songs such as shosholoza, ‘Hare Baap Re Baap’ and jaha bounji, these songs became a sort of anthem songs especially at weddings and other celebrations in the Hindi-speaking community in South Africa.
Ramchunder was also a popular Bhajan singer, frequently singing at several temple functions in various towns across South Africa.
The South African music lovers are mourning the death of the Indian-origin singer. Pundit Satish Maharaj, a life-long friend of Ramchunder who performed the final rites, described him as a religious man who was “down to earth”. “The (music) industry has lost a legend,” Maharaj said.