Usha Uthup’s journey from Chennai’s “Nine Gems” to Kolkata’s ‘Trincas’

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Trincas is synonymous with the story of the live music scene of the city. In 1959, the Tea Room owned by the eponymous Mr Trincas got converted to a nightclub run by Om Prakash Puri and Ellis Joshua. It went on to become the launch pad for many acts of the Indian live music scene. Usha Uthup, Benny Rozario and Pam Crain were only some of them.

Usha Iyer (Uthup’s maiden name) started singing in a small nightclub in Chennai called as Nine Gems in the basement of the erstwhile Safire theater complex on Mount Road, when she was 20, wearing a saree and leg callipers.

When  Usha was offered the job of singing at Trincas, Kolkata’s iconic restaurant, she insisted she’d perform in a sari, not a dress. On 1 October 1969, some of the stereotypes surrounding female nightclub singers in India were shattered at Trincas. That is when a young Usha took the spotlight at the crowded restaurant, wearing a sari and flowers in her hair and singing Little Willie John’s Fever.

 

Trincas and Usha Uthup’s fates were intertwined from the start of their association. As her star rose, so did Trincas’ and two legends were created. She had and still has, an uncanny ability of reading a room, understanding her audience and capturing hearts and minds. She calls Trincas her home and Trincas calls her it’s own.

Talking about Trincas , Usha says “This is where I met my husband Jani and this is also where I began my career. In fact, our home in Kochi is called Trincas. I made so many friends during those years at Trincas. You can go there for good food and good music.”

 

Usha Uthup’s live performances at Trincas on September 27 and 28, 2019 8:30 pm onwards will mark 60/50—the celebrations of Trincas’ completion of 60 years under the Puri family as one of Park Street’s most legendary restaurants, and of the 50th anniversary of Usha Uthup’s first performances here.

Anand Puri, of Trincas has this to say “In Kolkata, there is a huge and honest interest in food, art and history facilitated by social media and growing awareness. While people in their 20s and 30s enjoy the new, they are also looking for the roots of this spreading cultural tree and re-discovering the originals hidden in plain sight. People born in the 1990s walk into Trincas these days and say “wow! Why haven’t we been here before?”.Trincas is very much at the right place and time once again. It is a cultural and historic original; an icon around which trends have grown.”

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