Entertainer, actor, media personality and entrepreneur Kirk Brown is using his influence to give back.
“With the onset of COVID-19, as you know right now food is key as we are locked down facing this pandemic. We don’t have the same level of imports.
“I am very happy for the local farmers who are working hard to meet the demand. I volunteer with various different charities and also with the team from Capital Media HD Together, we focus on feeding the homeless, the most vulnerable and finding families with children to donate food and learning devices to,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Kirk also works with The Chef Alliance and Slow Foods Barbados to feed 400 to 500 families on a weekly basis with their soup kitchen: Feeding The Communities One Slow Soup At A Time.
As one of the faces of the We Gatherin’ 2020 initiative, Kirk said that the COVID-19 crisis interrupted his projections and revenue streams.
“Now I have to restructure because most sectors have been affected. It is really dire for entertainers. I am a very positive person but we all see how this virus has affected tourism, the hotel sector, Crop Over, NIFCA… even Oistins, Holetown and St Lawrence Gap have ground to a halt,” he said.
That is why he advises young entertainers and media practitioners to use this time to be innovative.
“I’ve just released an album, De Formula, on all platforms. Right now, the turning point is to look towards technology. We have never had a time when the world crashes. For artistes, I would say look at multiple revenue streams because many people used to say stick to only one thing, but you have to look at more than one income source. You have to go with your heart and passion but always be able to pay your bills and feed your family.”
The singer said that when he planted two acres and started a large slow food kitchen garden at home people questioned the move but now, he avoids long supermarket lines because he has his own produce. He’s also launched a business called Farmer Brown.
Kirk, who is a broadcaster on Capital Media HD, started out in 2005 with the then Strategy the Energy Band, now called The Energy Band. He has a degree in Computer Science and Engineering along with a Grade 6 in music from the Associated Boards Royal School of Music.
In 2009, his band, The Energy Band, went to BET’s 106 and Park to perform. His song, Dat is All I Want, which entered the Soca Royale, went straight to finals and then placed sixth after entering for the first time in 2010.
That same year, his entry into media came where he was performing at The Ship Inn and people told him they liked the texture of his voice. He had only trained briefly as an announcer at Mix 96.9FM. However, through South Central Entertainment, CBC had an opening for someone to work the graveyard shift and he decided to give it a try.
“That spawned into filling into different segments. So I really have to thank 98.1 and CBC for giving me the opportunity. People then said they liked my energy, and it then led to me doing the afternoon show. I filled in for what was the job for three to four people in the morning with a high energy show called Kirk Brown Live Pon De Edge.
On the heels of taking a break at CBC, he was then called to go over to Capital Media HD 99.3 and the rest is history.
He said one of his highlights was in 2017 when he presented Rihanna with one of her cultural instruments for Independence at the launch of Rihanna Drive.
“That was humbling because she is such a mega star. That was a memorable and fulfilling moment.”
It was not all smooth sailing for the 36-year-old during his career as he faced a lot of financial challenges. Kirk said at one point he thought of leaving to tour overseas, but because of his family, he decided to stay. He said responsibility kept him going and gave him motivation to continue “investing and evolving”.
“The responsibility to take care of my family keeps me going. It’s not for vanity. It is because I have people looking up to me. When you have responsibilities and take them seriously, that is what drives your passion. I get up every day and do my martial arts, business, charities and give back,” he said.
The performer added that he hosted the silent auction at the Tides Restaurant and helped to raise $300, 000 for Verdun and Marina House.
“I could be dead from asthma, which seriously affected me as a child. Now that I am so healthy and fit, I believe that it is my duty to give back.”
Kirk said the support mostly came from his mother Etwyne Gooding, who is now involved in his businesses.
“I never got financial support simply because we did not have it. We lived in Brittons Hill in a one-bedroom house. I used to walk to school, and it was a real struggle.
“Also, it taught me important lessons because we could not afford to maintain all the extra programmes like swimming, athletics and orchestra because I could not continue those programmes, so I had to drop out.”
The artiste described it as heart-breaking for a then 16-year-old, but he said he had an inner drive that he still has up to this very day.
“People see me and ask – Kirk, why do you work so hard? You are the hardest working man in entertainment, you hustle … but my parents never supported my music or business initiatives and I cannot judge them for that because resources simply were not there. I just learned from observing. I saw how hard my mother worked balancing jobs. I was a very sick child with asthma and she would walk me to the hospital and run back to work. So, I said, let me try to break the cycle.”
More doors opened for him when he kept up with the languages outside of school.
“While everyone was out getting smashed, I decided to use that time to study. I would stay home, eat and study.”
Kirk speaks 13 languages, and he spoke of doors which opened for him because of it. He speaks Danish, Italian, Swedish, French, Chinese and Spanish, to name a few.
“I have been able to travel the world speaking languages. Linguistics is my heart. I did Spanish and French for CXC while at The St Michael School. Then overseas studying in Canada, I met a lot of people speaking many other languages.
Everywhere in the world they teach you your first language along with other languages. It makes you easily employable, and it makes you an asset. I practice my Chinese every month because, of course, you can see the digital way that the world is turning.”
Kirk said he has met with business people and received offers of business just because he spoke a little of the language.
Currently outside of COVID-19, he is working on other projects. “I am working on a project with a producer from the UK. I had recorded my earliest ever with Dwaingerous and was planning to release a music video in March but with COVID-19 all we can do is prepare, pray and reach for the stars.” (MR)