Nice to see local artists getting some respect
There was a time, perhaps a decade ago, when Bermudian artists weren’t given their due respect on the local music scene.
They would be greeted with a critical eye and reservation rather than the cheering they deserved.
But I’m happy to see that times have changed, and artists like Joy Barnum and Heather Nova can perform in front of packed halls, filled with devoted fans.
The two songstresses were joined by Chewstick’s spoken word artists Tiffany Paynter and Stephan Johnstone and young rapper Kase at the Bermuda Festival’s ‘Heather Nova and Friends’ on Saturday.
I was one of the dozen or so people that arrived to Ruth Seaton James Centre minutes late and had to scramble in the dark to find my assigned seat.
Ms Paynter’s act was nearly done, so to be fair I asked a trusted friend what he thought of her performance. “She was wicked,” he said, also praising dancer Lauren Francis.
Super-talented singer Joy Barnum, accompanied by musician Michael McPhee, was next to the stage. She dazzled in a sparkling mini-dress and her three-song set was to put it plainly, spectacular.
She wowed the audience with an edgy song about an unfaithful boyfriend entitled ‘Ask another Girl’ and showed off her vocal capabilities by belting out an operatic tune called ‘Try Again’.
Spoken word artist Stephan Johnston performed two stellar pieces, one about the excited rush of new love, and another thought-provoking piece about the struggles young people face with violence and peer pressure.
He stumbled a bit on his third piece from an upcoming album entitled ‘Final Thought’ but skillfully brushed it off and got a loud wave of applause from the audience.
After a 20-minute break event headliner Heather Nova began her set, singing and playing guitar to almost a dozen folk tunes.
Straight off her sell-out European tour, she was joined by Austrian musician Arnulf Linder. He can only be described as a ‘one-man band’ mastering the bass, electric guitar, piano and more.
Some of the songs sounded the same, but others including ‘Save a little piece of tomorrow’ featuring local rapper Kase, were impressive.
Kase, whose conscious rap song about the need to save the environment today, was in my opinion the stand-out performance of the night.
A catchy number called ‘London Rain’, featuring Chewstick pianist Milton Raposo, and ‘Walk this World’ were also some of my favourites from Heather.
She ended the night with a great rendition of the 80’s hit ‘Tainted Love’ but remembered to pay tribute to The Chewstick Foundation.
The artist handed Chewstick founder Gavin Djata Smith a cheque to help finance some of its youth programmes at Berkeley Institute, Bermuda College and the Co-Educational Facility.
Heather said she hoped the cash could bring awareness to Chewstick’s outreach programmes and bring some healing to the Island “which is being torn apart by violence”.
The organisation is hoping individuals and businesses will match the generous donation. Anyone interested can visit www.chewstick.org to find out how to give.
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