A queen among thorns

Jul 12, 2022 | Blog

St. Kitts and Nevis builds its economy based on tourism. Kittians understand what this requires and demands of them.

I visited St. Kitts for the first time with a group of Trinidadian soca artistes and band members for the St. Kitts Music Festival (22nd – 25th June, 2022). From touchdown to takeoff, the airport reception and welcome from St. Kitts’ Liaison officers, immigration, drivers, baggage handlers and hotel staff stood out as genuine, warm and friendly. Kittians go the extra mile with a smile.

Now that LIAT is no longer servicing the Caribbean, there is no direct (non-stop) flight from Trinidad and Tobago to St. Kitts and Nevis. A private charter was arranged. Reporters formed part of our group. I leave the endorsements and reviews of the St. Kitts Music Festival in their skilled hands.

This is a first-hand account of my close encounter with soca artistes, their management and their bands and musicians. Firstly, let me preface this with acknowledging that fame is difficult. Destra couldn’t make three steps without photo requests from fans. Secondly, a prophet has no honour in his own country (Mark 6: 1 – 6 and John 1: 43 – 51). Let’s elevate talent. The word ‘local’ shouldn’t mean ‘less than.’ Thirdly, I understand business and entrepreneurship; not the “ins-and-outs” and “goings-on” of the entertainment industry. It was a privilege to have an insider glimpse of the ‘back-end.’ It has changed my perspective about our soca artistes and the work, grind and stress they undergo.

Thorns symbolize hardship and persecution. Our soca artistes and musicians thrive among thorns. The Viking and the ViQueen – Bunji and Fay Ann – continue to shine a light on soca music. Enrico, lead guitarist of the Vikings band and creator of Musiq Mansion brings his infectious energy, fun vibe and skill to the frontline. The sole saxophonist, ‘CP’ and ‘Rice,’ the Ableton live programmer speak the language of music and connect the musical notes and undertones with the skill of a translator.

Destra is hailed as the “Queen of Bacchanal.” The origin of bacchanal is Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry. Destra is greater than this headline. She is a queen among thorns. Her hard work through hardships over the years showed in her stellar performance. Her talent and vocal range to easily switch between musical genres – Soca to R&B to Gospel – and perform for the crowd at St. Kitts in a musical set that takes you through her repertoire of current, past and nostalgic songs shows her skill to connect with a crowd not entirely comprised of her fan base. Only a strong performer with a track record who continues to work hard at improving her craft can do this effortlessly. She even sang her response to a reporter’s question in a Press Conference in St. Kitts. No band. No musical back-up. Just her rich voice.

If there is a soca artiste who can cross our local borders to become a recognizable international brand, it is Destra! Until the St. Kitts Music Festival, I am guilty of not knowing the quality of our local talent. They don’t just ‘sing behind tracks.’ Golden success stands ready to welcome the ones who fine-tune their talent (skill), build a loyal team (people), develop their fanbase (marketing), grow their networks (resources) and understand the business of entertainment (branding, revenue streams and financial management).

There is always room for mediocrity. Average is crowded. As new talent enters, there may be some churning. In entertainment – like any business – respect is often lauded but engendering loyalty is not always understood or valued, until it is lost.

When Jennifer Lopez accepted her Generation Award at the MTV Movie and TV Awards on 5th June, 2022, she delivered a powerful speech thanking her believers and skeptics who contributed to her success – those who helped her and those who attempted to hold her back. “I want to thank disappointment and failure for teaching me to be strong.” She continued, “I want to thank all the people who told me, to my face or when I wasn’t in the room, that I couldn’t do this. I really don’t think I could have done it without you.”

Destra, I am sure has endured her share of struggles…perhaps more than others. If you separate the person from the Lucy persona, she may even be an introvert. She wears a crown and “uneasy lies the head, that wears the crown.” As she steps into her destiny, more will be required of her. The purpose that God has planted in her heart must bear forth. The Trinidad and Tobago flag will fly high with her, but her destiny is beyond our borders. The business of entertainment is the next zone to conquer.

So, I am saying it aloud – Destra you can do this. You are phenomenal! You are ready for the next frontier.

Thank you St. Kitts for showing me what I couldn’t see clearly in Trinidad and Tobago. I salute you.

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