Eddy Grant Knows The Secret To Take Caribbean Music Higher
OUR AMBASSADOR5™ SERIES SHOWCASES 5 QUESTIONS/FACTS WITH A CULTURAL AMBASSADOR WHO IS ACTIVELY PROMOTING CARIBBEAN CULTURE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THIS WEEK WE FEATURE –EDDY GRANT.
Eddy Grant is a Guyanese born, London bred and Bajan living musical icon who has built a strong brand around the world. His journey started to gain momentum in the nineteen seventies (1970’s) and has continued to move forward on full throttle to this day. Eddy’s early career with the first inter-racially integrated boy band called ‘The Equals’, spawned hits like ‘Baby Come Back’. In 1982, Grant moved to Barbados and opened Blue Wave Studios. This was also the year he released one of his most commercially successful albums called Killer on the Rampage, which included hits like ‘Electric Avenue’. Besides his music, Eddy Grant is also very invested in the ownership of music rights and understanding the business side of his art. He also continued to rack up recognition and accolades for his work including performing at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in 2008 and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the government of Guyana in 2016. Now in 2019, Eddy continues to show his tenacity in the business. During his recent promo tour highlighting his most recent album entitled, Plaisance, named after his hometown in Guyana, Grant spoke to the 2BKaribbean team about his musical journey, the business moves behind his music and his new album. Check out our interview for the very interesting career of this legend.
Video: Bronson Blair of ProThro Productions
Special Thanks: Nigel Kilkelly & Dirk Christiani
How did your journey from Guyana to London shape you as a man and a musician?
- Eddie had to unlearn some of the things he learnt in Guyana. He was accustomed to being very independent as a person, to independent housing and land and to access to all the pleasures of island living. That context made London seem like an almost constricted environment. He sought creative ways to make the best of his new environment and to make himself happy. After a while music became the thing that made him most happy.
How did your music play a role in bridging the gap between Caribbean and British culture?
- The Equals was the first racially integrated boy band at the time. The band never mentioned race or had any argument based on race despite the raging racial war happening around them. It was not an intentional mission of showing the success of racial integration but it was a bi-product of their success. He never really wanted to be the leader of The Equals or to make any major social statement but it happened by default.
- Eddie became an unintentional ambassador for Caribbean music. He leaned on his musical influences from his days living in Guyana to include greats like The Mighty Sparrow. Grant was classically trained in music and understood the intricacies that could refine the sound of The Equals. As other musicians from around the world came into his life, they also added to his musical influences and to creating his unique sounds. This included the RingBang sound where Eddy believes he found the essence of all music which is embedded in the music and sounds of the drum.
What inspires you to be so involved in the business side of music?
- Eddy credits a business man named Milton Samuels for nurturing his interest in the business side of music. Milton Samuels (Antiguan) was behind the first black owned company that got a number one hit record. The hit record was the song Aint Nothing But A House Party by the Show Stoppers. Milton encouraged Eddy that he should learn something about the business that he was in. After showing Eddy the ropes, he encouraged Eddy to ask his boss to return the music that Grant had created back to him. The conversation did not go well. But Eddy had learnt the value of being a gentleman and following the necessary protocols that were already in place. This approach earned him the reputation of being a gentleman in the music business. And after a few years it also earned him the rights being sold back to him for his own music.
What does the Caribbean diaspora need to do differently to get more awareness of the music?
- In Eddy’s opinion, things do not always have to be done in a big way. He believes you just have to get one version right and that one right version becomes the template for all others to follow. To Grant, Caribbean music is still trying too hard to be like other people without owning a unique version of ourselves that can be replicated worldwide. He quotes the RingBang philosophy as a way to respond to the need for global recognition for Caribbean music.
Be true to ourselves and know who we are.
We must learn to love ourselves.
Love the things that we make or create
Buy the things that we make and create.
To Eddy, until we really adopt that approach we will continue to be indebted to others without . To him, it is important for Caribbean people to gain respect and economic success and freedom.
Where can people find out more about your music?
- Eddy is not a big fan of the traditional platforms used for musical distribution such as iTunes. He has developed his own online shop where his music can be purchased at www.eddygrant.com
SOUND OFF: Do you think the RingBang philosophy is the key to getting more global recognition for Caribbean music?
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.