Although many Barbadian artistes, e.g. the late El Verno del Congo, Nicholas Brancker and Arturo Tappin have been making their mark on the international music scene for years, we must admit that none has attained the 'household name' status of Rihanna. Although the only thing Barbadian about Ms. Rih-Rih these days is her parentage, but I digress....
If nothing else, Rihanna has shown the world that Caribbean singers have a wider range than calypso or soca (no disrespect of course to Rupee, Allison Hinds, Machel and others!) Although I understand the marketing concerns that encourage the record companies to pigeon-hole artistes, who says we can't operate outside the box, right?
Anyhoo, here's a list of 10 Barbadian music artistes who I feel have a lot to offer the world. Please feel free to comment on any others!
10. Philip Scantlebury. Front man for the local alternative rock band Masala, Philip (pictured sitting at front) has also provided vocals for bands such as Le Groove, Acoustic Blue, Suave, The Toni Norville Band and Strategy. His band's newest single Beautiful Surprise is just that.
9. David Pilgrim. The brother of Barbadian lawyer and actor Andrew Pilgrim, David released his sophomore album Island Soul in 2004 and one of his tracks, Not Entirely Sure, is still in heavy rotation on Love 104.1 FM.
He is reported as saying that "R&B, jazz, and rock have so many different modes, but people tend to think of Caribbean music as mostly dance music. I want to change that, both rhythmically and especially lyrically", and he achieves that goal with his fusion of reggae, calypso and soul music. http://cdbaby.com
8. Ayana John. Beauty pageant contestant, Digicel Rising Stars finalist, actress, chantress, songwriter. If there's one Bajan artiste who's hard to pigeon-hole, it's Ayana John. She has shown her vocal versatility by putting out a number of songs ranging from hip-hop and r&b to soca, including the infectious love song Guns ‘n Roses and Bajan Story (with Buggy), which earned her a nomination at the 2007 Barbados Music Awards. Keep on doing your thing, girl!
7. William White. When I first heard William White's single Rain from his album Undone, I was singing it all day. The blend of Caribbean rhythms, pop, rock, funk and jazz will hold your attention from the first note. Kudos to Love FM's Samud Ali for playing William's music!
6. Jomo Lord. Jomo Lord is definitely a local talent that needs to be shared with the world. His infectious, alternative sound is still uniquely Barbadian in its lyrical expression, and hits such as Losing Faith, Free, Understanding Joseph and Lingo will keep you grooving.
5. Kimberley Inniss. Ms. Kimberley probably knows what it feels like to be 'always the bridesmaid and never the bride'. Placing second in both the Digicel Rising Stars and Courts Superstar Search comopetitions would leave most persons dejected, but not the persistent vocal powerhouse. A capabable producer and songwriter, Kimberley went on to wow Barbadian audiences with hits such as My Hips, Free, Freak on Da Floor and Carnival Symphony, and is at the forefront of the new wave of female soca artistes likely to go mainstream. I guess she got the last laugh....http://crsmusic.com
4. Billy Kincaid. Hip-hop urban artist Billy Kincaid isn't afraid to try new things. His collaboration with soca maestro the Mighty Gabby in 2005's We Live On blew locals away, and earned him his second Barbados Music Award for Best Hip- Hop Single in 2007.
He has also shared the stage with many popular local, regional and international artists, such as Rupee, Edwin Yearwood, Toni Norville, Fat Joe, Lloyd Banks, Buju Banton, Anthony B, Luciano, Morgan Heritage, and Third World. With his videos on rotation on the local music video countdown show Roamin', Jamaica's Hype!TV an MTV's Tempo, it's only a matter of time before world gets to know this musical treasure. http://cdbaby.com
3. Danah. If you didn't believe that electronic/acoustic pop and gospel could go together, then the group Danah will make a believer out of you. The soulful, stirring voice of lead singer Dana Ward and the stylings of guitarist David Thomas have earned them the honour of opening for Gospel acts Ron Kenoly and Donnie McClurkin, seven local Flame Gospel Awards including most influential group of the year, and two Marlin Awards (Caribbean Gospel awards). Rock on and God bless.
2. Kite. If you're visiting Barbados anytime in the near future, don't leave without checking out the local rock band Kite. Band members JJ Poulter and Brian Marshall deliver the goods on tracks such as Firefly (featured on an episode of CBS' The Ghost Whisperer) and Beautiful Sky, taken from their new CD 13 Degrees North. This Kite definitely deserves to fly.
1. Hal Linton. Hal Linton nearly sent Bajans into Cardiac Arrest for real with the release of his debut album Spirit, Life and Love in January this year. The tracks Supernatural, Hey Love and Smile also burned up the airwaves in the region.
At this year's Barbados Music Awards, he won Best New Artiste, Song of the Year for Cardiac Arrest (beating out Rihanna), Songwriter of the Year and R&B Song of the Year. I expect even greater things from Mr. Linton in the future.
Special mention must also be made of local songstresses Shontelle Bryan, Marissa Lindsay, Tamara Marshall, Rosemary Phillips; reggae artist David Kirton and all our soca artistes...you're all world class talents.