Soca is LIFE and so, in Trinidad and Tobago, amid much shuffling and skepticism over whether a virtual carnival experience should happen, and whether it could even work, there is a powerful hum that billows from the depths of the hearts of true die hard soca fans, appreciative no doubt, of the artistes who, like clockwork, are brining the tunes.
The music is here and while there will be no carnival festival in the usual sense, artistes like Jaiga, Shal Marshall, Bunji Garlin, Nadia Batson, Blaxx, Machel Montano, Farmer Nappy, Lyrikal, MX Prime and others remain committed to the art form.
One of our favourites so far comes from the man who has defended soca music for as long as we can remember. Jaiga’s ‘On De Inside’ is the ultimate limer’s anthem and with no liming permitted in large numbers, this tune on the ‘Backyard Jam’ riddim, is in essence, the epitome of what the real carnival spirit encompasses.
We spoke with Jaiga briefly in the aftermath of confirmation given by Trinidad and Tobago’s National Carnival Commission Chairman, Winston Gypsy Peters that the NCC would not be facilitating any virtual events and is in fact looking toward 2022 for the delivery of its usual carnival festival. Jaiga admitted to being bothered by the chairman’s lacklustre expression but went on to explain that no matter what, the people of T&T will enjoy the music by the artistes and even with that, the artists’ greatest purpose will, in essence, be fulfilled.
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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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