Edwin Yearwood’s new release is about reaffirming Black consciousness and awareness. However, the biggest irony is that the positive feedback he has been receiving about the song has come from people of all races.
The song, I Am, which was written by Edwin and produced by Nicholas Brancker, was released three weeks in the midst of ongoing global racial tension. When Bajan Vibes spoke to Edwin, he said the comments and reactions he has received since the release of the song are “overwhelming”.
Going beyond our shores, people from the Caribbean and around the world have been reaching out to share their thoughts and feelings about the song.
“The feedback has been very, very positive not just in Barbados but around the Caribbean and beyond. Radio station deejays have been calling and messaging. People are loving the vibe. They love the direction, they love the message. A lot of people, of all races, have been sending me emails and messages saying that they love the song. This speaks volumes because it means that the song is resonating even across the racial divide,” the singer said.
Pointing out that there was always a plan to release such a song, the entertainer said he felt that “now is the time”.
“It was on the cards for a long time but I think that the climate around the world right now needs it. The ignorance that is spilling over from particular races is dangerous but very tense at this time. I just thought that we needed to rally. I needed to make a contribution to the voice of the Black people around the world.”
He added: “It is terrible to see that there are some races that hate White people, some races that hate Asians, some races that hate Indians, but it seems that all hate Black people. It is difficult for us to get ahead in life, so sometimes we just really need to support our own. Be conscious, open up and realise who you are. We need to really make a statement and to get younger people involved.”
The artiste, also known as the General, said the entire process between writing and producing ran smoothly.
“It took a few hours to pen. I wanted the song to be balanced. I didn’t want the song to go too far left or too far right. I also wanted that you could still stand up in a party and enjoy dancing, moving and singing this conscious song.”
He added: “I sang the song on the phone to Nicholas and within a half hour or so he sent me back a groove to go with it. I said: ‘Yea, I love this’. We met in the studio the next day and the song was basically finished.”
The issue of racism is very dear to Edwin’s heart. He would have sung about it before and even experienced it on occasion while on tour. He recalls a trip to England with the band krosfyah of which he is the lead singer.
“Of course, in my travels I have experienced racism so many times. One that stands out is a Christmas we were performing in England. Obviously, many places were closed traditionally ’cause it is a holiday, but there were pubs opened. The hotel was closed to food services, so we had nothing to eat.
“We ventured out, myself and Sherwin King. We eventually came across a pub blaring loud music. The signage outside said this for 20 pounds, this for two pounds, this for three pounds and it clearly said ‘open’. We walked in and the music literally stopped. It was like a movie. The music just stopped.
“Someone said: ‘Can I help you?’, I said: ‘Well, yes, we just came to buy some food, we were looking for food all over.’ They said: ‘This is a private party, so we got to get out.’ I said: ‘But it says open.’ He said: ‘This is a private party.’ Then about three other people got up, but nothing happened after that cause we decided it was best to leave. All the while we were there, people were coming in and getting served. We left and when we got a good distance away, we could hear the music playing again.”
The General said he feels a sense of relief now that the song is out there. “It is something I have wanted to say for a while and this was the time to say it. I hope that it catches a few minds and catches some attention.”
Edwin said while this COVID-19 period has been a challenging time for entertainers, he has nothing but respect for those who are still producing music.
“Promoting the music has been a bit challenging. This is a learning curve for myself and many other entertainers. We have taken to social media. The radio stations are still supporting, knowing that the artiste can’t get out and do anything. I also want to say tremendous respect to those artistes who are still releasing music this year, knowing that there is no Crop Over.”
He admits that he is working on other music, having released I Am and a cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water in April for frontline workers.
The General said it was his intention to enter all the competitions had there been a Crop Over festival. However, he saw the writing on the wall for the fate of Crop Over 2020.
“More or less, I knew it was coming from just travelling and seeing what was going on around the world. I knew it was inevitable. There is always that disappointment of earnings and the fact that family and friends will not be able to enjoy themselves as they come to Barbados. But outside of that, the most important thing was, and still is, keeping safe.”
When asked what he would do differently for Crop Over 2021, Edwin said he would change the competition formats and ease the financial burden which key players have to endure.
“If it was up to me, my change or upgrade would be going back to two songs for the Pic O De Crop and having a Sweet Soca and Party Monarch separate. I would start there. I would attempt to give more license and permission to vendors to help make life easier, given that 2020 was totally disastrous.”
He continued: “I would try to make life as easy as possible for those people who contribute to Crop Over in one way or the other. Whether it be an artiste, a vendor, a promoter, all who have a stake in the festival, I would want to make life a bit easier for them financially next year. But I also know that it is very challenging for the Government at this time.”
The General said personally the COVID-19 pandemic period has been a trying time, but he has been using “positivity” to get through it.
“COVID-19 period has been and continues to be very, very difficult. We are trying to seek ways to earn. In the meantime, I am just trying to be supportive of people so that we can get through this together. So my music so far has been all about positive messages. It is about upliftment because that is important. I am lending myself to family, friends, fans and supporters. It’s about being positive and spreading that positivity.”
Edwin ended the interview by sharing what COVID-19 has taught him.
“It shows that we can come together. We can be very supportive. We are a lot more awakened and alert about our world and how nasty people can be or even how good people can be. Personally, I believe you learn to appreciate what you have more and to respect what you have.” (IMC)