An unsuspecting, musically gifted trailblazer is slowly but surely taking her place. Much like Jamaica’s Koffee seemed to have emerged out of nowhere overnight, and quickly stamped her name into history, so too will Trinidad and Tobago born rising star, Phia.
Sophia Smith is a 20-year-old diamond in the rough. According to engineering mastermind, PengCo Music, she’s the real deal. In fact, so confident is PengCo in Phia’s natural talent, her passion and drive, that he’s ready to risk it all, to take her to the heights of the music business.
Phia grew up in Gonzales, Belmont with her mother, grandmother and extended family members. She fondly recalls being called upon by her uncle to perform for friends who would come over to house parties held at the family home. They would encourage her talent, often gifting her with cash after her impromptu performances. An eventual relocation to Petite Bourg, in San Juan with her father brought with it an even greater appreciation for music and dance. Noting her father and uncles’ constant singing and dancing display at the house, Phia said it was not too long before she too became completely mesmerized by music.
“All I think about is music,” relays a most recent Instagram post by the young soulful singer. Unlike most in the Caribbean, who’re attuned to island beats and the Caribbean flavour, this young artist stays true to herself, maintaining her love for soulful genres of music. “I grew up with my grandmother. Our neighbour would play music every morning,” she explains. “I grew up listening to Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash, just to name a few.”
Untraditional for a youth of this era some may argue, but for PengCo, Phia’s vibe is refreshing, new, exciting. “She’s going to be big,” he says confidently, and with that assurance, Phia too, stands ready to push even harder. On April 1st, Phia released visuals for her single, ‘Red,’ which she penned. The track was recorded at Proden Studios and mixed and mastered by Pengco Music. Asserting herself as a GenZ neo-soul artist, Phia’s laid back delivery is reminiscent of that of RnB singer, the late, Aaliyah Haughton.
“I’d describe my music as soothing. I think my music’s relatable to events that unfold in most people’s everyday lives,” she explains, admitting that her major contemporary influences have come from international RnB superstars, Chris Brown and Kehlani. “Dancing was really my first love. I used to watch Chris Brown’s music videos and try to emulate every move and his voice. On the flip side, Kehlani has influenced my style a bit. They’re both major vocal influences but I like the way Kehlani dresses,” she said.
With her eye on the prize, her heart humble and her passion unwavering, Phia’s on a journey that’ll ultimately lead to the big leagues. Her only hope is that the support at home in the Caribbean is forthcoming, after all, the love and support of ‘home’ beats all else.
DJ Lila Gives Miami Carnival Experience A Perfect 10!
The next generation’s being groomed to take over. Trinidad and Tobago’s DJ Lila is one of the prospects who’s been making a name for herself in the entertainment industry in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean but the young, female DJ and artist who is now a resident DJ at Next 99.1FM in Trinidad, isn’t being held back by geographic location.
Born in the US, Lila has always understood her mission. She’s under the guidance of her father, artist and multimedia specialist, Ziggy Rankin and they just completed the Miami Carnival circuit.
Grateful for the opportunity to represent and showcase her DJing skills in the carnival, Lila showed mad love for Giselle The Wassi One. “I wouldn’t have made it up there without Aunty Wassi. She organized the entire thing. I really want to thank her,” said the teen. The Miami opportunity brought her into the eyes of major promoters and artistes no doubt, and will essentially prove to be a springboard for her budding career.
Having really enjoyed the experience, Lila said as a TriniBad vocalist and representative for that sub-genre, she foresees more opportunity for the sometimes controversial music, which is prevalent in the Caribbean, to be included and collaborated in significant ways with Soca. “Everybody in Miami knew the music so I know we can continue to grow and become bigger,” she said.
On the matter of COVID-19 precautions and execution of the festival in Miami, Lila said she was impressed by the mask and testing rules, which had been implemented by the Miami Broward Festival committee, and the fact that the patrons followed those protocols. “Everything was well controlled,” said the young DJ, adding that in her view, experience was a perfect ten.
Lila, like many Caribbean youths, is eager to build her brand and represent her peers on global circuits. She says her goal was to get the experience this time around and for that, she is grateful.
This is Wild! TriniZuela Manager Turned Artist Morphs Into Kick A$$ Alter Ego, Gustavo.
A world without entertainment would be so dull. In the past two years, Trinidad and Tobago in particular, has experienced an entertainment drought as Covid-19 restrictions forced the abrupt and strongly enforced government shut down of an industry that fuels economic livelihood for countless people.
David Adams, the elder brother of entertainer, Mr. Renzo, says, much like everyone else, he too has been affected. He’s been an artist manager for some time, managing his brother’s career since 2000. Now, having embarked on a music career of his own a few years ago, the Venezuela born act, who’s created the perfect character alias in Gustavo, is bent on infiltrating the global entertainment scene in a way that others may not have thought of.
“This is music for the world,” said David on the release of his new single, ‘Straight Forward’. The track comes complete with a spanking new music video and is collaboratively sung with reggaeton artist, Jeico- a fellow Venezuelan. “He doesn’t speak English; this is pure reggaeton,” said Adams. This fact adds to the undiluted authenticity of the track. For Adams, the creation of a stage and digital character was necessary, since, off stage, in business mode, his personality is somewhat rigid. “This character, Gustavo, is full of himself,” admits Adams, as he speaks of the alter ego he shares his image with. Gustavo, according to the team behind Adams, is suave and chilled,but so sure of himself that he is undeterred by anything that may take place around him. “He’s truly something to see,” said Adams with a smirk.
Alter-egos aren’t uncommon in the entertainment industry, after all, right here in the Caribbean we’ve been met with Destra’s Lucy and Fay Ann Lyon’s Silver Surfer characters. In the United States, Sasha Fierce often makes her presence felt when Beyonce hits the stage. For David Adams, Gustavo is the stage personality he sometimes wishes he could be on a daily basis.
A national of Venezuela who migrated to Trinidad at a young age, Adams understands the tumultuous situation that Venezuelans continue to grapple with. He says there is no economy there and with that comes spiraling crime that has proven uncontrollable. Trinidad his home, he says he does not feel the same will take place in the twin island nation, explaining that once relations with the United States are maintained and there are no trade embargos placed on a country, it is highly unlikely that citizens of that country will see anything remotely close to what has been playing out in Venezuela. Adams is not ignorant to problems faced by people around the world and believes music is very important amid the current climate that everyone is now facing. “Music is part of our happiness and it’s very necessary. When you have stress, you have ailments and so music is really important. I pray for us to come out of this situation. In the US events are going on now, and I believe vaccination is a personal choice that we all, as individuals, have to decide upon,” he said.
The new single, ‘Straight Forward’, was produced by Prince Pronto of Tyrpp Records and written collaboratively by Pronto, RheoneElbourne, Jazeel Christopher, Gustavo and Jeico. Visuals for the track are now available on YouTube, with streaming accessible via all streaming platforms.
Press Release courtesy Etcetera The Company.
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