Bouyon Monarch, Carlyn XP
Bouyon Monarch, Carlyn XP

To many people Carlyn Xavier has seemingly appeared from nowhere and has hit the Dominica music scene like a thunderbolt. But Carlyn has been around, enjoying and learning more about music, just to prepare herself as an entertainer of choice. Although she claims that she is really three good years in the business Carlyn sang for about one year with Energy, a young band from Roseau, and another year with Caribbean Vibes. For the last two years Carlyn works with the youthful and progressive band – Fanatik.

Having been nurtured as a member of the Giraudel Choir, Carlyn demonstrates the talent for musical interpretation and passionate singing. "To me the stage is like my home. It is where I feel most comfortable in life – on a stage. There you can do whatever you want."

Anyone who has seen this lady perform would agree. She does not care much for the makeup, perhaps because she hardly needs it. But the singing and the dancing are her main tools, her main concern. She is deliberate about her dressing. "I try to be very much out of the ordinary," she says. "When you see I step out and nobody at home asks me 'What you think you have on you there' then I know I am not yet ready." When they make the appropriate remark then she knows she is ready for the stage.

Her best moment on stage was when she and Allison Boston did backups for the Cadence Icons Show organized by Prince Wadix and DBS a few years ago. She is still in awe at having been on stage with the likes of Fred Nicholas, Fitzroy Williams, Cornel Phillip, Jerry Moulon and Jason 'Froggie' Joseph. "Everyone was feeling the music, feeling the vibes. Just being on stage with them made it the best time on stage for me," she said.

Fanatik represents a new stage in her life. Sometimes she would get special treatment, being the only girl. But most times they try to treat her like any other member. It has its positive side she knows. "It will help me stand on my own two feet since they won't be there all the time."

Carlyn Xavier attended the Giraudel Primary and St. Martin's Secondary Schools. Then at the Dominica State College she did French and attained her nursing qualifications. She works at the Alford Ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital. She has on occasion found herself singing to patients who themselves begin a gospel tune and ask her to join. Then they would stop singing just to listen to her do a few lines solo. Some have recognized her on the ward's TV set and would ask, "Nurse is you dat there or your sister?"

It can be difficult marrying both these careers. But when Carlyn has enough notice for gigs with the band she can usually work her nursing duties to suit. When it is impossible to get a favourable adjustment then Carlyn is replaced by another front performer- like Daddy Chess for instance.

Carlyn has deep admiration for Dominica's Michele Henderson. "I have been hearing her since I was a little girl," she reveals. "I used to practice to her music. I wanted to sound and sing just like her one day." She loves R and B but Reggae is her preferred type of music. Hypocrites by Nasio Fountain, another local artist is one of her favourite songs.

When Carlyn Xavier is not singing or taking care of patients she retreats with a towel alone on the beach. "That is my favourite thing to do," she says simply. "I talk to the sea. I let it have all. And the waves respond. That is where I unwind." There is also a tree in Giraudel under which she has relaxed and fallen asleep, until her Dad who brought her up would come to awaken her.

Carlyn recognizes that there is much musical talent in Dominica, but "Nobody is willing to push them forward. Foreigners are made comfortable and are paid. But locals are not respected." People in authority should do the necessary in order to upgrade the status of artists on island. Tourism, Culture and Education should create the required awareness re artists and their valuable contribution to our society. She suggested that these entities should mount shows both locally and abroad to expose the work of Dominican artists. Local DJ's need to play more of the local music. "We need to market our products. If we do not then who will?"

In Surinam, she performed at a Youth gathering for CARICOM Prime Ministers; and with Fanatik she accompanied Michele Henderson in St. Baths. Carlyn Xavier is a winner. She is the 2011 Groovy Soca Monarch. It was her first ever music competition. Carlyn "can also play a good game of dominoes." Playing and winning over her Dad and cousins, she represented Dominica last year and in St. Lucia she won the Queen of Dominoes Caribbean title.

Carlyn looks forward to a very big stage somewhere. She expects that "determination and good marketing" will earn her a spot on BET in the next five years. And a bay would give her the focus and purpose for her hard work.

*Carlyn won the 2017 Bouyon Monarch crown last week. Beno placed second, Anwar third and Fetty Mark fourth.

The article above was reproduced, with permission, from the book "Hopscotch: Dominican Youth in Focus".