Veteran crooner Richard Stoute is calling for more opportunities for entertainers to be heard singing more than just calypso – including a nationwide music festival – so that another Rihanna can emerge from Barbados’ shores.
Local entertainers are disadvantaged when talent scouts come to Barbados and are only made to listen to calypsonians, Stoute told journalists at a news conference launching the annual Richard Stoute Teen Talent contest.
“One thing about the Crop Over festivities that I would like to see is people from other genres apart from calypso are given an opportunity. For example, the world is looking for another Rihanna. Rihanna is the voice of the world in terms of music, but when the best talent scouts come down to see what talent they have here, they just see calypsonians,” he said, adding that show business was about being when the opportunity arises.
“Showbiz is about being in the right place at the right time, so if no one hears you then you are not going to get that opportunity. Rihanna had that opportunity by singing at Combermere School,” Stoute said.
The veteran promoter, who has been training young entertainers for the past 42 years, suggested that members of his Richard Stoute Teen Talent programme should also be offered an opportunity to sing in front of talent scouts when they visit Barbados.
“I am saying that an opportunity should be given to the better singers of my teen talent programme to be showcased to these people who can give the world another Rihanna. But [Richard Stoute Teen Talent] starts after these people have left. Why can’t there be an opportunity provided for these young people who are so talented to be heard by these people who can take them to another level?” he asked.
The entertainer argued that there was “no platform” for young Barbadian entertainers to become megastars like Rihanna.
“Maybe you go somewhere and hear a young person singing, but who is there to take them to another level? All I am saying is that we should get all genres of music and give them an opportunity to be heard
. . . .We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, we have to open the basket to let people who sing other music as well be given an opportunity to be showcased,” Stoute said, adding that culture could be a major revenue-earner for Barbados.
“I don’t think that we really use . . . the cultural aspects of our artistry. For example, I think Barbados needs a music festival that can be conducted in 11 parishes in Barbados [and that] would be another marketing strategy because we can do it at Independence time, as nothing happens at Independence time in Barbados. So, if we are depending on tourists to come, as tourism is our main industry, then we need to create forums to bring people to Barbados.”
Stoute also contended that no calypsonian in Barbados would ever become a superstar, as, he claimed, calypso becomes stagnant once Crop Over has ended.
“The world is looking for another Rihanna. I do not think a calypsonian is ever going to become a megastar. When Crop Over is finished, this music is finished. You will probably hear it for another week or so and that is it until next year again, and those are just the cold hard facts.”
He said not even calypso giants Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire or Anthony Gabby Carter were as productive here as they make the lion’s share of their earnings in overseas performances.
“As popular as Red Plastic Bag is, when did he have a concert in Barbados? Dr Anthony Carter, when did he have a concert in Barbados? So, these people are really not as productive in Barbados as they should be,” Stoute told the media.
“[They] take planes and go overseas to perform in America, Canada and England; that is where they make money, not in Barbados. I would like to see the day comes when opportunities are given to these young people who are singing the music that Rihanna sings to be heard. Who is making another opportunity for Barbadians to be showcased?”