by Kimberley Cummins
I am not considering anything but what I have been directed by God to do says founder of the annual Teen Talent contest, Richard Stoute.
His response was to a question asked about whether he would consider reintroducing a live band to back the contestants, if not during the preliminary stages of the show, the semi-finals and final.
At the fourth preliminary of 36th edition last night, the contestants were good but while the Plantation Garden Theatre audience was appreciative of their talent, it was too small for the contestants to get the experience of performing before a large crowd.
Gone are the days when patrons arrived at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. to ensure they had a chair when the show began at 7.
One former patron, who preferred to be anonymous, started attending Teen Talent in the 1980s until early in the 21st century. He recounted the days, which produced the likes of Adrian Clarke, Toni Norville, Jan Gibson, Edwin Yearwood, Rupert Clarke, Lemuel Waithe, Cristal Austin, Lillian Lorde, Margaret Bovell, Nikki V, Darren Holder, Brian Carter, Guy Harewood, Kareen Clarke, Cassandra Samuels among a host of other top Barbadian artists to Barbados TODAY.
“It used to be standing room only; not one Sunday but every Sunday, with extra chairs lining the back. It was great, it had a live band and you would find a core group of about 40 people who would come every week. The women would dress up to make a fashion statement. It was the place to be every Sunday, despite the hot sticky conditions it used to be still full,” he said.
One of the complaints people have voiced about their absence was the lack of a live band. Those people this newspaper spoke with said that while the talent is still at a high level, they do not believe they should have to pay to listen to “karaoke” as they referred to the teens singing to a backing track. One said the live bands not only aided the singers with their timing and improvisation but as well the young musicians that passed through the ranks.
“I don’t know what you mean by enhance. I don’t understand that. Are you saying that the track is wrong? Do you know how long I have been using tracks now? About eight years, so why are you asking me this question now?
“This is something you all keep bringing up all the time and I don’t know why because it is working, it is doing what I want done – perfection.
“I don’t think you all really understand what I have been through with live bands. Do you think any bands in Barbados now is going to come and sit down and work with these kids to practice over and over again? If I tell you the horrors I’ve been through with live bands you wouldn’t want to talk to me. I don’t have to worry anymore about people coming on time, I don’t have to worry anymore about people not learning the songs, I don’t have to put up with a fellow telling me he can’t make it today – you all have no idea.
“I am finished with that – live bands… I’ve done eight years of this, it is successful and I only do things that are successful. I am happy doing this, I don’t have to worry about nobody. It has made my life a bit easier,” he said.
Stoute said that for ten years the Barbados Community College had been awarding the winner of RSTT with a scholarship. Since the music programme there is highly praised, with many students graduating to be some of the best musicians in the Caribbean, the question was asked about making a linkage to create a band where the talented musicians from BCC could as well gain experience.
“I am saying to you that I am happy doing what I am doing. The kids are happy, the other contestants. I don’t have to worry about nobody else at all. They have the music with them, the music is completed. So why would I change something that is working?
“I am a spiritual person and everything that I do in my life I pray about it and God has said to me ‘Keep doing what you are doing’. This is eight years now. Why are we going back over this all the time? It has worked for everybody”. [email protected]