For musician Ramon Harris, the goal is to become a household name. The 29-year-old lover of jazz, hip hop, reggae, R&B and pop goes by the name Ray Vybz and has been setting the world on fire with his unique sound from the time he was a preteen.
Ray Vybz, he said, is a combination of his name Ray and the vibe that he brings with his infectious personality.
“I started like many others, in a church. I really can’t remember when I started, but it was from a very young age. In the beginning, my only instrument was my voice. My grandad was a pastor, so often I would be in church singing and playing instruments as part of worship. From there, I went on to Garrison Secondary (Graydon Sealy) where I was first introduced to more instruments. I started with a recorder, but soon after, I joined the cadet corps where I joined the drum corps,” he said.
Ramon further explained that at the time, he learned to play the drums, trumpet and bugle and would also sing at dinners for the Cadet Corps. He was then encouraged to join the school choir, after his mother had a casual conversation with the choir director.
Currently, Ray Vybz plays the guitar and piano though he was a percussionist in the Mosaic Steel Orchestra.
After graduating from secondary school, he went on to join the Richard Stoute Teen Talent competition for about five years. And this was when it hit home that he could make music into a career. Music means everything to Ray, and he finds inspiration in the simple things.
“I find inspiration in what is happening around me or in the world, friends, family, from everyday experiences and conversations, when I’m listening to music or just reflecting; a song can be born from that.”
For him, music is the one thing that brings people together as one.
“Music has always connected people, regardless of the language they speak. Music is life. It’s so powerful it can control any moment or mood you may be in. Having the right beat and rhythm is essential, making your audience move and enjoy music the way you want to. This is my life and I just want to share this with everyone.”
Ray Vybz said that if he was not a musician, he has no idea where else he would turn. Though he doesn’t look up to any artists in particular, he said he respects people who came from nothing.
He also admires musicians that use their platform to dive into music and create successful businesses. He adores those musicians who know how to command a stage, can truly perform, and get their audience engaged. Ray Vybz hopes to possess all three traits and more in the next five years.
“I’m on a mission to influence the world with my music and I am excited to materialize my goals and aspirations, to leave my stamp for future generations to follow. I want to become a household name across the island and the larger world for my music and my voice and become a mentor for young aspiring musicians.”
Thanks to his teachers at Wesley Hall Juniors, Garrison Secondary School, Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and BCC where he completed his Associate’s degree in music, he has made it to where he is. His associate degree is the one which has opened many doors for him in the music field.
Some of his career highlights include performing in St Lucia.
“It was the first time I left Barbados in my music career. I would have travelled with Allan Lewis, a fellow musician himself. On the trip, we performed at Breeze Bar and the people really appreciated the music and even went home for their family to come back. We had a really amazing night and made good friends from then.”
Another career highlight was when the artiste became a finalist in the Who’s Next Competition. “It was my first time performing for TV and overall it was a great learning experience and began to bring me recognition.”
The performer’s love for music also brought many opportunities such as tutoring aspiring musicians at Springer Memorial, performing regularly in hotels across the island, and working with a number of bands throughout the years.
Ray Vybz is sure about who he is and the power of his sweet smile and infectious personality.
“During my performances, I want people to really feel the vibe, energy, groove, rhythm. I want them to understand the substance or message that’s in the music and let the music have a positive impact on them.”
But he still has his fair share of challenges. “My main challenge is self-confidence and knowing I have to trust the process to become the musician I am destined to become. The more I collaborate with other musicians and become more active in the music arena, I do become more confident and optimistic about my future.”
The mantra: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” is one which keeps him in steady mind on a daily basis. He is optimistic about his career and the local music industry all together, but he knows it will take hard work.
“There is so much more work we have to do to make the music scene locally grow. Our current situation has definitely put a halt in our progress. Right now, as artistes, we really need to be using social media to get our brand out and build a following.”
The fact that the Crop Over festival has been cancelled this year has really slowed down the progress of the local scene, but Ray knows that Barbados is filled with driven people. The musician added that once the opportunity arises for Barbados to enjoy the carnival season, he knows it will be magnificent.
Ray Vybz ensured that he left some advice for other young musicians.
“Set goals and crush them. Then make bigger goals and crush those too. Set goals for yourself, long- and short-term goals to accomplish, develop a plan, make sure you have a good team and energy around you and be aggressive. Go for your dreams. There will be times when it may seem challenging and you might feel discouraged but continue to fight.” (MR)