When people talk about famous music artists emerging from the Caribbean, they often struggle to name acts from anywhere but Jamaica. Well, unless they still consider the Bajan-turned-American pop star Rihanna on that list.
However, my home county of Trinidad and Tobago is a bed of incredible talent that deserves global recognition. After all, it is the home of soca, calypso, limbo and steel pan.
Among the soca performers who can easily stand on the world stage with international artist is Destra Garcia, and her recent appearance on 96.1 FM’s The Breakfast Party Concert Series proves just that.
Garcia is known for several major hits, such as “It’s Carnival”, “I Dare You” and “Bonnie & Clyde”. Yet, what sets her apart from most of her peers is her ability to sing those songs live without relying on a backtrack or shouting the lyrics.
For the Concert Series, Garcia belted out a medley of her hits for over 20 minutes and didn’t miss a note. She even stopped to wine and interact with radio hosts Tweez and Nikki Crosby.
As I watched this footage, I wondered what it would take for Garcia to crossover into the North American market. Although she often performs in various international venues, her music has never taken off on American radio.
Conversely, that is also true for every major soca singer. Unlike reggae, which was championed by Bob Marley, dancehall and reggaeton, soca is still struggling to crack the American airwaves.
Of course, I am not referring to Bunji Garlin’s chanting over Major Lazer’s now outdated electronica, which still has not made an impact on mainstream American radio. Honestly, if that is the so called future of the genre, I’d rather soca remain niche.
The opposite argument can be made for soca artists excelling in the region instead of looking for American acceptance. Indeed, why do they need to chart in that territory? Shouldn’t their main focus be on maintaining the integrity of the genre while succeeding on their own terms?
I actually agree with the latter stance. As West Indians, we should be proud of our art. Rather than using North America is the benchmark for every aspect of our existence, setting our own standards of success is equally – if not more – important.
Sing on, Garcia.