Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing a spate of not only gun violence, but gender based violence casualties. In the aftermath of Ashanti Riley’s death and thereafter, that of Andrea Bharatt, a massive outcry ensued. Artistes, locally and internationally, including Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’s Karlie Redd and rapper, Cardi B, voiced concern over what had been unravelling.
Trinidad and Tobago music producer, Kyle Phillips recently told us that a song emerged from his quarters, following Riley’s murder – a song that he says held a message that needed to be told. The release of ‘Watch Ova Wi’ sung by Jonelle Manwarring and featuring TriniBad artist, Trinidad Killa, boasts a powerful African energy, complete with melodically tantalising resonance but still, remaining true to a youthful bounce that’s difficult to ignore. The single, which offers a perfectly executed video was uploaded to YouTube three weeks ago. “This song came from a place of us needing to say something about what had been going on. We started it on Boxing Day, following the murder of Ashanti Riley,” said Phillips. “Jonelle said “yuh know Kyle, I am a female in this industry. I have a voice and I can speak out about this.”” From there, the work began.
Kyle said the song initially sounded a lot like Devon Matthews’ and Ella Andall’s “D’ Journey’ and with a desire to move away from that a bit, they went back to work. “The process of getting Trinidad Killa on the song was pretty easy. Trinidad Killa is always willing to work and when he came to the studio, and heard the Baptist riddim, he got excited,” said Phillip.
The process surrounding the video shoot did not come without its fair share of hiccups, however in the end, the video managed to be delivered flawlessly. Kyle however told us that he felt like more artistes should have delivered music on the topic. “One of the problems that we did have with this topic was that because we started in December we weren’t privy to the Andrea Bharatt tragedy so when that happened we were still working on the song and we completed it around the time of her death and the protests that came thereafter. I felt terrible to even post promotional material about the song, during that time,” said Kyle. He told us that it didn’t sit well with him at all, as he felt the population would think that the artistes and all others involved, were simply capitalizing on a very sad situation.
Kyle chose to wait it out. The project was released one week after Carnival 2021. “The song is doing great. Everyone who hears it, loves it. It has some power in it,” said the young producer. “Trinidad Killa was a great addition to the project, even though unorthodox,” admitted Kyle.
A collaboration of this type, he explained will not be the last to come from his camp this year. Kyle explained that with Covid-19’s restrictions, a fete he normally hosts to offer younger artistes the much needed exposure, had to be cancelled, and as such, the idea to create an album that would see collaborations between upcoming, less known acts, alongside more renowned entertainers, will be forthcoming before the end of this year. “This song was supposed to have been the first track on the album but we decided that this song needed to be out sooner and so, we’ll do another one for the album itself.”
Take a look at the video for ‘Watch Ova Wi’, below.
Tarrus Riley Turns The Heat Up A Notch, Releases “Like That.”
Known for his evolutionary sound, Tarrus Riley is set to kick off the summer with his new single “ Like That”, produced by DJ Frass Records. The single, which was released April 2nd, garnered solid streaming numbers via Apple music and on Apple US itunes charts, has been receiving airplay on various mainstream stations in the US and UK.
Riley, known for his impressive catalogue of hits which includes, “Good Girl Gone Bad’, “Lion Paw”, “Memory”, a soca track done with Soca music maven, Machel Montano and the unforgettable, “She’s Royal”, is no stranger to creating hits, nor is he far removed from innovation. According to a media release issued by Destine Media, “Like That’, ifuses dancehall and R&B flavours and delivers a groove geared at getting women around the world, dancing and feeling perfect within themselves.
The media release highlights that over the past few years, reggae and dancehall music have been scrutinised for its evolution of, but Tarrus believes this evolution should be enjoyed and embraced, rather than negatively labeled.
In an interview with Pat Meschino for Daily Beast, Riley said “don’t watch the tempo because I like doing new things. People are concerned with names, labels, trap, rap, hip-hop, dancehall, I can’t bother with dem things. I have always been doing different kinds of sounds and I will continue. Music is going through a change right now, people are blending and fusing, everybody wants to call it a name, but I just call it good music.”
“Like That” is another song that highlights the Jamaican artist’s ability to blend sounds while maintaining his authenticity and entertaining his fan base. Currently set to headline Best of the Best Miami Music Fest 2021, Tarrus plans on releasing a few more sings this year.
The World Needs More People Like Her. See Who, and Why.
There’s often one person whose ambitions, as herculean as they may seem to the naked eye, is necessary and humbling to those looking on from a distance. In Trinidad and Tobago, a female Primary school teacher is proving that service goes beyond the portfolio that comes when one chooses a particular career path; she’s proving that true service is heartfelt and never dispassionate.
Michelle George Bermudez wears many hats. These days, the school teacher with 21-years professional service is teaching young women between the ages of 11 and 15, the art of photography via a free digital course. The course, provided via her company, Octomedia Studios offers these young women basic photography steps inclusive of lighting, angels and composition. “My aim with this free online tutorial is to simply give back and to empower these young women,” she explained. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a very active Bermudez could be spotted competing on stage as the Queen of the Band at T&T’s Dimanche Gras for bands like Kalicharan Carnival in South, Trinidad, or acting in local productions, or even shooting photographs at major festivals, concerts, sporting events and fashion shows. Her resume is as dynamic as it is strategic. “I’ve always been involved in the arts. I’ve always loved culture,” she said, explaining that both her parents are artists who’ve been intimately involved in the creative sector and more specifically, Carnival. When it comes to giving back and mentoring the young and impressionable, Michelle’s resume also boasts strong involvement in the Girl Guides Association of Trinidad and Tobago where she has served as caption and district commissioner during her 19 years within the organization.
Michelle says she will soon be embarking on a career change and plans on adopting the titles of Director of Photography in addition to film director and producer. Her artistic background, shared by her parents and mastered by her along the way, has afforded her the tools needed to deliver workshops and special classes to those who desire such. “My goal is to teach others – especially young men and women so that they can empower themselves and enrich their lives,” she said, noting that her personal cache of resources includes models that have been crafted for film and photography sets.
Eternally grateful for the guidance afforded through mentorship by Ian Pantin- an entertainment industry stalwart, Michelle says her business model at Octomedia Studios will continue to incorporate passion and love. She understands the importance of truly enjoying a profession, and says there’s never a dull moment in her life. “I enjoy learning and it gives me even greater pleasure to pass on what I learn, to others,” she said.
With numerous years of experience as a Carnival Queen on stage at the Dimanche Gras competition in T&T, in addition to her involvement in Best Village Competitions, playing the steelpan for Panorama and of course, her photography and filmmaking experience, this school teacher is proving that service goes beyond the confines of career and can only be truly shared with the world, from a place of love.
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