Anna’s back! And this time more determined than ever before to have a successful music career.
Audiences would have first met Anna Beckles, more affectionately known as Anna B, many years ago as a timid young 18-year-old, with an incredibly huge voice, performing at the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest. That was in 1984 when she reach the finals and placed fourth overall.
But it wasn’t until returning to the competition from a short hiatus in 1989, that her vocal prowess really began to shine, and stood out when she was crowned that year’s monarch. Aside from her vocals, though, what singled her out most was the fact she was blind.
Beckles was born six months prematurely in England in 1971. Because of this, she was placed in an incubator. While there, she was somehow fed too much oxygen and it ruined her sight to the point where she became visually impaired.
Some years after, she and her family relocated to Barbados. It was then she met a very influential figure in her life: Miss Monica Corbin, who was one of her teachers at the School For The Blind.
In an interview yesterday morning with Bajan Vibes at her Bayville, St Michael home, a smiling Anna recounted that by some means, unknown to her, Corbin had recognized she could sing. Anna joked that she hadn’t recognized this talent herself, even at the age of ten.
Months later, at age 11, Anna was involved in a vehicular accident that left her hospitalized, totally blind, and with the knowledge that not even two trips to the United States for surgery on the eyes would give her sight. So she decided to explore the talent that was visible to Miss Corbin.
Thus, when Corbin made arrangements for her to sing at the Barbados Community College, she did. When the youngster and a group were invited to perform at Corbin’s church, Anna obliged. Even more, when the teacher entered her in the Teen Talent competition, she passionately belted out her songs.
“I didn’t really know what was going on. She arranged rehearsals for me and I sang at them; but I was nervous,” Anna said as she chuckled.
Fast-forward to the present day, more than 30 years after she first hit the scene, and she tells Bajan Vibes she doesn’t think it’s too late to take Anna B to the world.
As a matter of a fact, she stressed that one of her biggest stumbling blocks to reaching her pinnacle hasn’t so much been her impairment, but other persons’ inability to see beyond it. And she is optimistic that with a new team in the likes of Mango Media Productions, an upcoming album, appropriately titled Second Coming, with the first single I Just Wanna Say to be released this month, she is most prepared to take Barbados and the world by storm.
“I have been doing this from ever since, and I just needed the right team. And I would say yes, I now have the right team,” Anna declared.
“There is a lot of discrimination against the differently abled in this country . . . and people expect us to take what they feel like giving us. So then the moment you go to defend yourself, you are rated as radical, criminal even, difficult to deal with.
“As a woman you butt up on people who always want to get in your pants. So the moment you reject them, it is a combination of people saying, ‘I do this for you’, ‘I do that for you, so you got to give me what I want’. When you object they leave you out.
“Then you get dishonest people who think they can pull a fast one on you because you are differently abled. There was a person who was working with me, who used to steal my personal money, and use my name to get collections; and they would take the money and do what they feel like with it. That has happened to me.
“But this team, you don’t know how happy I feel about that! For years I have been going through all kinds of dishonest people, discriminating people,” the singer/songwriter said.
With these experiences well behind her, Anna B now wants most to inspire listeners with her music. A self-professed spiritual individual, she began this new mission to inspire a few years ago with the release of Port In A Storm and the calypso Fact And Fiction. Since then, she has also written other spiritual songs for several artistes.
“I see my music as a ministry. I like to inspire people. There are many good female artistes out there, but my favourite male artiste has always been and will always be Stevie Wonder. Not so much because of his blindness, but because his music takes me places which I don’t exactly know how to explain . . . .
“When I hear Stevie Wonder’s music, it takes me to a very special place and makes me feel like I want to be there all the time. I am very uplifted knowing at least I can make people feel good also,” Anna added.