Former Party Monarch king Barry Chandler, silenced for the past few years by a drug addiction that nearly took his life, is singing a redemption song.
And as the 28-year old who has been given a second chance prepares to fully take part in his first Crop-Over in recent memory, he is warning youngsters with talent like him to avoid the pitfalls that saw him fall from soca king to beggar.
Chandler, a former Tune-of-The-Crop winner and Richard Stoute Teen Talent champion, bore his soul today in an extensive and very candid interview with Barbados TODAY, speaking publicly for the first time about his struggle with illegal drugs, one which saw him lie to those closest to him and spend thousands of dollars to feed his habit.
The youngster believes he is living proof of how illicit drugs can ravage your life as they took him on a downward spiral, causing him to spend endless hours in drug holes, engaging in “walking marathons”, lying and begging people for money to get his fix so he could get high.
At six-foot-one, the former co-lead singer with the band Jabae said he weighed 136 pounds during those days, but today he was ready to put all of that behind him and this Crop-Over will be making a come back.
He will be entering both the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions. The latter he won back in 2006 with Flames.
He said he returned from Trinidad two weeks ago after recording the four songs he hopes will take off. These are Encounter, I Feel Like a King, a remake of Carew’s Snakes in de Grass and Crop-Over, which he said was in the same vein as Rupee’s I’m a Bajan.
Chandler said frankly he was killing himself with his drug addiction.
“I said it was my fault that I’m in this position, nobody ain’t get me here. It was only me that got me in this position and it’s only me to blame. I couldn’t even admit that a couple of months before.
“I wasn’t fun. I was killing myself and I didn’t know, but today I feel like I’ve won already — I’m not talking about the competition. I feel that I win because I went to Trinidad and actually get to record a song. The way how the songs came out I tell myself I could still sing.
“I have to keep praying to God, I ain’t no Christian or nothing, but I have to keep praying to God. I thought my life was over,” he said softly. “Once you admit you have to get help that’s the biggest thing you have to deal with. Me admitting that I have a serious problem tek me years to do.”
He said that if people did not want to get drunk they should not drink one drink because that was “too much and a million is never enough”.
“Once you buy one stone all your money is gone,” he added.
“I’m just thankful to be here today to speak to you and tell you that any youngsters out there that got talent and want to be something in life, you can’t use drugs ’cause only two things comes out of drugs pain and suffering. You suffer and you’re in pain,” Chandler said.
He said he was now living with his grandmother again who always looked out for him and even though he put her through a lot of pain she used to visit him while he was in rehab.
“I used to trick my grandmother a lot and my grandmother loves her grandchildren real bad. I would tell her my brother get kidnapped and I had to get $1,000 to get him back and she gave me. My grandmother kept me on my feet, even now. What caused me to take this rehab thing serious is that is something I used to thing about. When she came to look for me at Verdun House I had to make amends and tell her about the wrong things I’ve done which was a part of therapy. My grandmother tell me she ain’t care and that made me feel better.
“I told myself I have to lick this here. You hurt more people than you hurt self. They’re a lot of people out there that loved me. I thought she hated me because when I wanted money and she didn’t want to give me I was cruel. I said ‘she hate me’,” Chandler said.
He also said it was not about the money.
“I have something in life today that’s better than money to me. You want money but I have something better than that. I’m clean so I can make money. When you’re powerless you’re so uneasy you’re not comfortable with yourself. I hated myself and for somebody who used to love themselves, dress clean and like a lot of girls. I didn’t even want any. My girl was drugs …,” he said.
He hopes his experience will help turn some young person away from drugs.
The singer said that even though they were people expecting him to fall prey to marijuana or cocaine he learnt he had to stay away from certain people, places and things.
Chandler is grateful to his manager Dwyane Grazette, whom he described as a very decent person who fought for him and his talent.
Also see: Second Chance – http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2013/05/17/second-chance/