Doing it solo
At one time music was all about bands; the Exile's , Grammax's, Groovers', Stars and Belles, to name a leading few. At one time one would think that our musical future was vested in our bands in this new 21st century dispensation but solo acts have now staked a claim.
It is my view that the Triple Kay's and WCK's will bow out to the Mel C's, Smith Brothers, Acer Bantan's and the Colton T's of this era as they really are the cream of the crop in terms of their professionalism and general artistry.
Similarly, Michel Henderson, Ophelia and even Jeff and Gordon realized by fate or design that people want to identify with a front man and so solo artistes all over the world are now getting the recognition that the bands which they formally played for did not get; Lionel Richie- The Commodores, Bob Marley- The Wailers, Michael Jackson- Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and literally hundreds of others.
It seems to make economic sense when not many care about what is happening past the front man. Kassav just as Earth Wind and Fire enjoyed a level of longevity because the band stood out as a show band with as many as four of the members sharing in the lead vocals propelled by dancers, horn players who were well choreographed added with the keyboardist and bassist who really put down a show just as the original Grammax was known for.
The Burning Flames from Antigua could rile up a storm with just a four- man group and find most orchestras wanting for stage presence.
Serenade's Rohi, LLoydie and Triple Kay's Benji have the stage antics and interactions to keep one glued to the stage, but are antics sufficient? Now this is where a Tarzie, Dice , Daddy Chess or a Tasha P comes in to compliment the vocal aptitude. Still are those two components enough?
The answer may lie in your target market. What are your aspirations and what are you present limitations? I wish to advance that you require all of the above and, in addition, heartwarming compositions.
Colton T, to my mind, is a leader as he has all the three essential attributes rolled into one; vocals, fine audience communicator and he does have the tracks that his generation and my generation and beyond can appreciate. The fact that he specializes in Reggae-type rhythms, a genre which is already recognized internationally, speaks volumes.
Then there are the Smith Brothers, a talented group whose musicianship, harmonization, and boy-wonder 13 year old Micah will command anyone to listen. I dare say not many adults have this endearing personality, a selling point.
There is also Mel C with her nasal sensuous tone would make most would-be promoters or music labels talents seekers take note.
Ironically our best singers/artistes don't seem to be exploring Bouyon as an option for international recognition hence the fear expressed by foremost music icon Gordon Henderson, that it was stagnant just before that heave of Dada's 'Famalay' which caused some Caribbean heads to turn in Dominica's direction. It would be interesting to see how the music drives off after this 'jock start', or will it?
The solo artiste does not have the additional expense of a band for promoters to purchase tickets for, pay and still accommodate. Music has become much more simplified in today's world where the skillful manipulation of the available technology using music stems, machines, and effects can make any artiste sound almost exactly or even better than his own musicians or the studio recording itself!
So quickly fading are the days of Jeff and Grammax, or Sparrow and Trubadors, because it's the artiste not necessarily the band, save for nostalgic purposes like Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. This is why it is incumbent on front men on island to not just be able to jump around on stage but present songs for a wide demographic that will last, driven by quality vocalization.