Friday 24 May, 2019

Alison Hinds returns to Carnival with new music and new look

PHOTOS: Alyson Holder

PHOTOS: Alyson Holder

It’s been a few years since Alison Hinds dominated the airwaves but the Bajan soca queen’s appeal has not waned.

She continues to tour extensively, travelling every weekend to perform at events around the world. Her hits are timeless, "Faluma" being the most demanded song in her catalogue.

Hinds could easily rest on her laurels, relying on her past hits to sustain her for the rest of her career. But in an era where even Calypso Rose is still churning out hits, Hinds is pushing out new music.

“It is important for me as an artiste in this genre because of the way the music goes. How this particular market is driven, it is driven by new, fresh music. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear the classics but it always helps to have new, fresh music and the added bonus is that I have an extensive catalogue,” she said in a visit to Loop.

Hinds is working with a new management team, Perception Management, who will be executing her 2018 campaign under the banner 'The Queen Is Here'.

Her first release of the season is “Pull Up” which was written and produced by Badjohn Republic.  Other expected releases are a Chutney Soca song and a collaboration she would only describe as “a big, bad, stinking, dutty collab”.

To help drive her campaign, the mother of one is rocking a new lock. Her signature locks are now hidden under custom-made wigs.

“I wanted to try something different. It was in my head for a while but I wasn’t sure. I have a new team now, stylist, booking agent, social media, everything is new and fresh and that is feeding me. Is freshness happening now and vibrancy,” she said, revealing that a former Personal assistant, Adzil Stuart, advised her to try wigs when she expressed to him she wanted something different.

Her wigs were made by Trinidadian stylist Leiselle Barnett in New York.

Known as the Caribbean Queen of Soca, Hinds was the first female in Barbados to win the Road March in 1996 with the song “Raggamuffin”. She repeated that feat in 1997, also taking the Party Monarch title that year with the song “In the Meantime”.

Her achievements influenced a generation of female soca artists in Trinidad and Tobago as the Bajan Invasion took over the islands.

Hinds is hoping to again inspire a younger generation to get into soca.

“It is still very much a male-dominated genre. When Patrice Roberts, Destra and others came to the forefront there was a resurgence,” she said acknowledging that Nailah Blackman seems to be the only major female to emerge in a long time.

“I am looking for who is going to be it and it can’t be Nailah by herself and it’s not like there aren’t females in the artform but they are at a local level, not a regional level. They aren’t able to penetrate and get out of the individual islands and penetrate,” she said.

Asked what is hampering the female artistes, Hinds speculated that it could be the type of music they are producing which isn’t getting out or translating for the region.

“We see guys coming out of St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent but we aren’t seeing the females,” she said.

Back in Barbados, Hinds mentors two soca neophytes, Nikita Browne who sang on Machel Montano’s “Haunted” and Faith Callender.

“They are beautiful girls but there is still some development that needs to happen. They have what it takes to make the step but they are still in development phases.  I think there needs to be more mentorship and unity and it doesn’t have to be on a public forum but it is about noticing the young female talent and pulling them aside and giving them advice and encouragement and that is what I do with Faith ad Nikita,” she said.

She said the ladies have the ability to transcend the Bajan market like others have done. Hinds, Edwin Yearwood, Biggie Irie and Lil Rick are some of the artistes from Barbados who have managed to build careers beyond those shores.  But in recent years, Bajan artistes have struggled to repeat the success they have had outside of the home market.

“The consistency of Bajan artistes is the reason. You have to have the follow up. You come with one song and you like seasoning in everything but then the real work happens, you have to show you are not a one-hit wonder. If you came the first year with a song so humongous you have to be able to follow up with that. That happened to me with “Raggamuffin”. That was the first time I did a real party tune and I won the road march. I said oh crap what am I going do but Square One was up to the challenge, we were hungry and young and we had the drive to be like nah we not pausing we now have to come back ….we were a hit machine,” she said.

As she looks forward to the future. Hinds said she has been thinking about what her transition would be as she gets older.

‘I will transition to shows in auditoriums and do a semi-unplugged set with a full band and I will get to sing and deconstruct the songs. That is what I want to transition to, Alison Hinds in concert and take that element of people coming to enjoy a show.

“You shouldn’t want to stay in the same mould forever. We are getting older so you have to be realistic about where you are and you have to think ahead of where you are. And it is not about hanging up your heels once you present that in the way you want to present it and market it the way you want to market it," she said. 

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