WHEN Bevon St Clair performs, today, in Woodbrook, at an event to celebrate his latest musical achievement – a recording deal with Universal Music Group (UMG) – it will be with mixed feelings of nostalgia, humility and euphoria.
“I am totally overwhelmed. I have been waiting for this for a while now,” St Clair, 30, says of the signing.
“But I am also conscious of my humble beginnings and then struggles I had to go through to get to this point.”
The event, which organisers are calling a breakthrough showcase, is being held at the Big Black Box, Murray Street, from 7 pm.
Universal’s former president and CEO Randy Lennox and several heavyweights in the local entertainment industry are expected to attend. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Universal Music Group was established in September 1934 and is considered one of the top three record labels in the US.
The 2014 Young King said he had been working under the internationally recognised label in an informal capacity for some time.
“They were observing my capabilities all along before they finally offered me a contract.”
As part of his preparation for the move to Universal, St Clair, like many other artistes, had to prove his worth. This involved showing his versatility as a singer and ensuring that his voice was always on point. He’s been to several countries throughout the region and in Europe, including St Croix, France, Istanbul, Australia and most recently, the United Kingdom.
The international response to his music, he said, was phenomenal.
“The people were totally psyched and that, for me, was all I wanted.”
Born in Manzanilla, a largely fishing and agricultural district in east Trinidad, St Clair sang his way into the national consciousness in 2014 with a gut-wrenching social commentary, Another Flambeau, which addressed the crime situation. He said the song’s message was still relevant given the widespread killings.
St Clair’s interest in singing, though, was cultivated long before Another Flambeau.
At his neighbourhood primary school, St Clair recalled being among the first to offer his vocals in concerts and other social events within the community and its environs. As a teenager, he explored his talents at Manzanilla Secondary School under the guidance of then music teacher Melvin Craig Thomas.
The one-time Synergy Soca Star competitor’s talents have taken him to various parts of the Caribbean, where he performed on cruise ships and at popular entertainment spots.
He has admired the work of veteran bard Baron (Timothy Watkins), Sugar Aloes (Michael Osuna), Patrice Roberts and former monarch Karene Asche.
Since winning the Young King crown, four years ago, St Clair said he has been marketing himself as an entertainer.
“In this business, it is important to meet the needs of a diverse clientele.”
St Clair, who once rocked dreadlocks and an Afrocentric look, has re-invented his image to cater to a broader audience.
“I am sporting a punk look with grey eyes, all to impress an international audience,” he said with a laugh.
St Clair’s one-year contract with the UMG entails producing an album exploring various genres. The singer revealed he would be collaborating with Australian artiste Fia on one of the singles on the album.
“But I’ll be focusing more on pop music, ballads and showing the people that I am versatile.”
A member of the legendary Revue tent, he said he also would continue to do calypso “because that is where I started from.” He’s already begun working with noted local writer Christophe Grant and others to produce music that’s guaranteed to whet the appetites of his fans.
But the father of three also hopes to use today’s event to further promote the talent of his childhood friend, 2009 Digicel Rising Star winner Erica Samuel, with whom he collaborated on the popular song Haunted Melody, a crossover ballad that Grant composed in 2015.
“We had done a music video of the song and so, I pitched it to them (UMG) and they loved it so much that they are also interested in bringing her on board.”
St Clair said he and Samuel had long dreamt of making it big in entertainment.
“To me, this is a big deal,” Samuel said of the opportunity at UMG.
“Bevon has always believed in us, even more than me. He was always the dreamer.”
Although she has been somewhat low-key since winning the Digicel Rising Stars competition a decade ago, she said she has been quite busy recording music with Damian Preston Productions.
“I have been doing mainly reggae, pop and ballads for weddings and other private events. But ballads and reggae are really my signature.”
Samuel, who began performing in Standard Five, recalled her experience was anything but exhilarating.
She said: “The first time I sang in primary school, I broke into a cold sweat and I remember crying afterwards. It was a horrible experience. But afterwards, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I realised then that I could sing.”
Samuel said her mother, Karen Samuel, has always supported her.
“Mummy was a big help throughout our careers. She gave us a lot of tips on performing because she saw the potential.”
Grateful for the love and support of his family as he embarks on this new and exciting chapter of his career, St Clair also thanked his manager of three years, Jacquie Burgess, for believing in him.
“Things are just going totally upwards. I don’t even know what to feel. I thought that after winning Young Kings, that was the pinnacle. But Jacquie saw the talent and did everything to get me out there. For me, everything is about Jacquie Burgess.”