Grenada Soca: This year at the Soca Monarch/Kaisosoca Monarch competitions in Grenada, artistes will have watch out for the new contender competing for the title. Newcomer Andrew (Soca Sterling) Welham from England will perform his hit songs, Bum Bum Time and Best in Me. itzcaribbean.com tracked him down to to find out more about this new talent.
What made you decide to move to Grenada?
My family and I started coming to Grenada on holiday in 1999 and returned to Grenada as holiday makers for the following 3 years. We stayed at the La Source hotel, and there met allot of people who would turn out to become very good friends. My family are all SCUBA Divers, in particular my sister Ruth who was already an Instructor by 2001. I progressed to Instructor level myself and by 2003, Ruth and I opened our own SCUBA Diving and Water Sports centre at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts, on the adjacent beach to the hotel we became so fond of 5 years previous. For the past 3 years we have been running the SCUBA facility together, along with our newest edition to the family, my sisters husband Ocean Collymore.
What’s the best thing about living on the island? Do you see yourself staying?
For me the best this about Grenada has to be the life style that comes with living in a beautiful Caribbean Island like Grenada. They say the worst day on the beach beats the best day in the office, and my office is on a beach, so I really can’t complain!! Of course life has it’s stressful times, but all I have to do is take a step back, look around me at the crystal clear sea, lush green mountains, and white sandy beaches and I have to smile. Life is all about enjoying yourself, and this is it, there is no dress rehearsal, and I want to make the best of it whilst I can. So in answer to me staying, as long as the water is clear and the sky is blue, my answer is definitely, yes!
Tell us how you started on your road to becoming a Soca artist. – Have you always liked Soca music?
It all began last year, post carnival 2005. Before I go on let me first give my music background. I have always had music in my family, my mother is a music teacher and my my sister Ruth attended Rosebruford music and Drama college, and I always had a dream of singing myself, (either that or own a dive centre in the Caribbean!) and I briefly pursued a career in music in the UK before moving to Grenada. So after carnival 2005 I was making a joke with a co-worker Joel that I would like to sing a soca at carnival 2006. It was at this point, I met my future manager and song writer Brian Griffith. Brian had overheard our conversation and asked me if I was serious about singing soca, to which I replied “sure, why not”. Unknowingly, Brian as it happened was a Calypso/Soca song writer for a number of artists including his Daughter Nnika. (not a spelling mistake!) He took my number and 3 weeks later he called saying he had a song for me to listen to. The s ong, titled “Bum Bum Time” we went on to record at Ocean View Recording Studio in Brizane. I have enjoyed Soca music since my first visits to Grenada, and I remember bringing back cassette tapes of Carnival music in 1999 and 2000, the most memorable for me would have been “Ole Woman Alone” by Tall Pree.
Who are your favourite artists?
I guess Tall Pree’s “Old Woman Alone” has to be one of my favourites as it was one of the first introductions to the music. In addition to that, I enjoy listening to the likes of Sparrow (for it’s comic lyrics mainly), Four Brass, Inspector, General P.P, Papa Jerry, Black Wizard and many more. Almost every artist in Grenada brings something special of their own style to the music.
Being a new artist and a white performer, how has you reception been so far?
My initial fears of being booed off stage have so far thankfully not happened, and I must say that up till now, my reception has been fantastically warm for me. I guess initially people are skeptical that this “white boy” will not be able to produce the goods, but in the four live performances I have done so far this carnival season, I think people have been somewhat interested to come and see what Soca Sterling has to offer. Initially I believe the impression was “well, this should be a laugh” but once I start singing people seem to like what they are hearing, and I hope it continues from strength to strength!
Do you think your performances will encourage a new audience to the Soca Calypso tents?
For sure I mean obviously my friends here on the island who would not normally attend carnival will (I hope) turn out to support me in the events, in particular American, Canadian and English friends who are all students studying at the St. Georges University. Asides from this, I know that Brian has in his mind that it will encourage a new audience, and wants this to break the ice to give Soca music to a more International audience. For that we will have to wait and see what happens.
What’s next for Soca Sterling? Do you plan to enter into other soca competitions and pursue the singing career?
Well, for now, I want to concentrate on making my mark on 2006 Grenada Carnival, and depending on how this season goes, I hope for sure to be back with more next year. Of course we all know Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is one of the most well known, an that for me would be another dream come true. Not wanting to set my sights too high, but I have to have goals and that is certainly one of them. I know Brian has aspirations of bringing Soca Music to England on a bigger scale, but again, we’ll wait and see what this season has in store first!!
Please include a list of performance dates and/or upcoming events, with the song titles that will be performed.
So far we have a busy schedule for 2006 carnival, although to say they are confirmed performances as yet is not 100%. For sure 29th June (Fisherman’s Birthday) we will be performing in Gouyave. This is a special day for me as it is also my Birthday, lets hope my 24th is a memorable one!! I will be in the Kaiso Bards tent, which will be all over Grenada in the next few months. The Big 10pm – 10am show on Quarantine point with “Waggy – T Promotions” is another show I hope to do. Once I get confirmed dates for all these shows I will email them to you. Songs that will be performed are “Bum Bum Time” and “Best in Me” and another which is still to be confirmed!!
Do you have anything on CD? Or can people listen online?
My first Song has already been released, “Best in Me” and this can be heard most days on City Sound FM radio station online. We also have a CD, a compilation album of 8 artists which will be released mid June. The CD is called “Spice Soca – Platinum Edition” and is a Spice World Records production.