A group of talented young people have come together with a single purpose: to make people happy through music.
The group which specialises in singing, photography and videography, is called 1st Class Productions and is relatively young having been formed only in September 2019.
But while as a collective they may be green, some of the individuals have a vast knowledge of music and singing having been associated with other groups or simply holding their own as solo acts.
Leader of the six-member group Romel Harewood told Bajan Vibes during an exclusive interview which also happens to be their first major interview, that the love of music brought them together. He said the group has since evolved from what was started among workmates at Sandals Barbados.
“After work we would just be singing, so we decided to form a group. But some people dropped out of that original group which was called Legacy. So as we got new members I changed the name to 1st Class Productions. I found people of like mind. I wanted our music to be different, not something you get that is average. I want us to be a group that you would want to listen to everyday and relate to.
The composition of the 1st Class Productions is: Romel Harewood, 27, stage name Classic who sings hip hop and R&B; Destany Clinton, 24, stage name DezzyD sings hip hop, R&B, jazz and soca; Amir Lewis, 24, stage name Nappyboi sings hip hop; Akeem Harvey, 24, stage name Notnice sings hip hop and dancehall; Joshua Barton, 23, stage name Motive sings hip hop and Kellan Reid, 31, stage name Kellz sings hip hop.
Romel was pleased to report that the group is versatile. “We sing any genre of music be it rap, hip hop, R&B, jazz, reggae, or dancehall because each member specialises in a different genre. We are a group of mixed talents.”
They have created their own music and continue to do so even in this challenging COVID-19 period.
“We go online and find beats and sing to the beat. I would go to a friend who makes beats and he would remake it to suit us. We create our own songs; depending on how we feel, our different moods, we sing based on that. Everything we sing is original. We are in the process of sorting out copyright.”
The next stop for 1st Class Productions is to sign up as a group label with COSCAP. Of all the music they have created only one song has made it to radio, so the goal is to make the enterprise more organised.
Romel said their biggest challenge is marketing. “Barbados mainly supports soca. When it comes to the music, people actually enjoy and respond to soca since it gets promoted more. So in our set, we try to add that.”
The entrepreneur, engineer, songwriter, photographer and videographer said reception to their music and videos has been great and he shared how his other interests came about.
“I had an issue with the engineer I worked with before. We agreed on a price then he changed it when I got to my fourth song as I was working on an album. After that, I went on YouTube, found a programme and downloaded it and started dabbling in engineering from there. As for photography, my mum bought a camera for my uncle and I started to play with it. I started taking photographs and was very good at it. Then a friend encouraged me to do videos as well.
“I do music videos which we post on Instagram. People see what they like and share it with other people. We meet up every day which often leads to a rehearsal. As long as we find something we like we just sing.”
The group plans to enter the National Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) competition and produce an album as well.
“To complement the album I would like to do a documentary from how far we came and how we got established,” he explained.
Speaking specifically about himself, Romel said he comes from a family of musical talent. His mum, Marvene Harewood, was a teacher and choir director at Welches Primary and former principal at the then St Lucy Secondary School. His dad, Courtney Harewood, is also a teacher who played a big part in his music career by encouraging him which caused him to push his music. His dad took him to piano lessons and gave him his first piano so he could practice.
“The major artiste in my family is my aunt from England, Heather Haywood. Her career is singing jazz and R&B at various hotels, venues and other countries. She tours with her talent. She has also sung alongside international artiste Prince,” Romel added.
Romel started singing at age 14 but admits he only took it seriously last year. “I would walk past a class at Lester Vaughan where people were battling each other singing. They were trying to determine who can sing the best, so I decided to get involved. I remember when I first started they laughed at me because I was totally off key. From then, I started writing and reading more about music.
“When I got to SJPP [Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic], I went to a studio for the first time ever. I started doing my own thing at Pipe Iron Studios. That is where I learned my instruments, engineering; everything I developed there. At that time, it wasn’t something I wanted to do permanently, but the love was always there.”
In recent times, his mind has changed. “I said that if I could be serious with it, I will go as far as my mind carries me. I said to myself if I could develop further, imagine what I can do. My mindset now is don’t stop, just keep pushing.”
The singer who is influenced by international artiste Tory Lanez and local performer Jamar Waithe has been on a few stages sharing his talent.
“I did an Open Mic at Hilton, St Lawrence Gap, Carnival Destiny. I have a performance coming up on a cruise. When I am recording, I am not certain about good compliments. I always want to know what I can do to improve. I don’t want us to stay at one level, I want us to go further and develop,” Romel said. (IMC)