The local entertainment fraternity says the honour bestowed last night on Barbadian superstar Rihanna by the Government of Barbados was well deserved.
Immediately following the renaming of Westbury New Road in her honour and her formal conferral with the title and instruments of Cultural Ambassador, veteran entertainer Anthony Gabby Carter, who is himself a cultural ambassador, told Barbados TODAY the accolade was long in coming for the young Barbadian singer, who burst onto the scenes in 2005 and has already achieved iconic world status at age 29.
“I don’t know if I can have a bigger or more beautiful feeling in my heart at anytime. This is it, the beginning of many things to come. She is the one that should be first because she has done more than any of us entertainers to promote Barbados and I just love this girl,” he said in reference to the decision by the Freundel Stuart administration to rename the street on which she grew up in her honour.
“This is long overdue, she puts us on the map like nobody else has ever done before and she never shied away once from saying that I am Barbadian, I am from Westbury Road,” Gabby said of the eight-time Grammy Award winner, who was also ranked by Forbes as the fourth most powerful celebrity of 2012, and by Time’s as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” later that year.
While hailing her global accomplishments, another veteran entertainer, Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire, who was also recently bestowed with the title of Cultural Ambassador, echoed much of Gabby’s sentiment.
“I think it [the renaming of Westbury Road in her honour] is a wonderful thing for a young lady who has done so much for Barbados.
“We are truly proud of [her]. She has done an excellent job all across the world, a real example to follow and it’s great that Barbados can do something like this for her. We are truly proud of her,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Entertainer Ras Iley was also happy to see Rihanna recognized. He also said he was looking forward to Rihanna Drive becoming a major tourist attraction.
“You can now use this area and broaden the tourist scope
. . . like how they do in North America and Europe for all of these mega stars, so it is a great achievement,” he said.
Veteran promoter Al Gilkes said he felt the honour had come at the right time.
“She has gone beyond what a lot of people expected. They thought she would have been a one hit wonder . . . or a three hit wonder, but she has proved that she is a lasting emblem [that] an entertainer of her caliber can be. Nothing can stop her now!
The director of FAS Entertainment also highlighted the fact that the renaming of the road occurred on the island’s 51st anniversary of political independence from Britain, saying it “means that the Government of Barbados and the people of Barbados have faith that she will also continue to be as she has been for the last several years”.
Meantime, Sonia Gooding-Ifill, the current owner of the house in which Rihanna grew up, is proud to have a digital sign bearing the pop star’s name, a sundial and the broken Trident, erected to the front of her house.
“My grandmother was the one that was instrumental in renting the house to Rihanna’s family. It feels great, it feels awesome and I am proud of her as a woman of colour to achieve so much success,” said Gooding-Ifill, who resides in the United States but was back home yesterday to take part in the renaming ceremony.
She also said the current tenant does not mind “all the hype” that was surrounding the home where Rihanna once lived.