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Tylasha’s got a passion for singing

Close to her heart: Tylasha DeSilva will sing next week as part of the Berkeley Educational Society’s annual fundraiser, Summer Jazz Jam (Photograph by Akil Simmons

Urged on by her sister Cedtara Simons, Tylasha DeSilva started singing in primary school — and never stopped.

Next week, she’ll take to the stage for a cause that’s dear to her heart: her alma mater.

The 17-year-old is one of several local entertainers performing at Summer Jazz Jam, an annual concert held by The Berkeley Educational Society to benefit the Berkeley Institute.

“It’s a way to give back to the school and to do it in a way that I love ... singing,” said Tylasha, who graduated from the senior school yesterday, having served as its head girl, and was one of three students to receive the Principal’s Cup for outstanding school spirit.

Her plan is to sing Opportunity from the Annie soundtrack and Etta James’s All I Could Do Was Cry. Next week’s performance will also help prepare Tylasha for what’s ahead.

She leaves the island on July 25 for the US, where she’ll kick-start a five-month stint with educational performance group Up with People.

“I was at a college fair in S3 and [representatives from Up with People were there],” she said. “My year head, Takisha Smith said, ‘Go sing with them!’.”

Although nervous, she did it anyway. Before she knew it, she was offered a spot, but deferred for a year.

“I was too young,” said the teenager whose singing, dancing and acting skills were acknowledged by Berkeley last Saturday when she received The Carol Hill Theatre Arts Award and The Glenda Edwards Continuing Education Scholarship at its Scholarships and Awards Ceremony.

She recalled how her sister helped nurture her talent years ago, while a student at West End Primary School.

“She used to write the songs and make me sing,” she said. “I performed for the first time in Primary 6 at a Pride/Pals fashion show. I don’t remember what made me want to do it. I sang I Smile [by Kirk Franklin] and everyone was crying — I didn’t know why at the time. I guess I sounded nice.”

At Berkeley, she joined the school choir. She has performed as a soloist at funerals, at the Progressive Labour Party’s delegates conference “and I did my first wedding this [month]”.

Tylasha competed in the Bermuda Idol competition in 2016 and 2018; she placed second in Bermuda Teen Idol last year.

“I also sang at the Premier’s Concert. I don’t do it for the money; it’s something I love to do.”

To improve her stage presence, she joined Sui Generis Dance Team last year and recently began lessons with a voice coach, Up with People alumnus Lawreida Cartwright.

Ultimately, however, she’d like to be a special needs teacher, focusing on children and adults.

Having only been to the US and the Bahamas before, she is thrilled that Up with People will take her to Canada and over to Europe.

“I’m definitely excited to see new places and experience different cultures,” she said. “But I’m most excited to help. Everywhere we travel we will also go into the community and help people. That we help others is what I’m most excited about — that, and meeting new people, making new friends.”

The 5th Summer Jazz Jam takes place on July 6 at 7pm in the upper courtyard at the Berkeley Institute and will feature performances by The Unit, EC Connection, Tylasha DeSilva, Jamal Springer, Maya Saunders, Noel Taylor & Marcolliver Philip, The Blues Beat Band, Soul Sisters, Nekoda Bascome, Claire DeCouto, The Berkeley Steel Pan Band, Jeremiah Samuels and Downbeat. Tickets: $60 for patrons, $30 general admission and $20 for seniors and students, are available at bdatix.bm, the Berkeley Institute, People’s Pharmacy and Surprises. Tickets also available at berkeleyeducationalsociety@gmail.com and on 599-3723