The Bahamas, is one of many international destinations that recently launched their very own carnival. It is well known that Soca music is what fuels the annual celebration; and so you can imagine, there is a new wave of soca music—coming straight out of The Bahamas.
Meet Wendi, a versatile and talented artist born and raised in The Bahamas. You may have heard her soca “Attitude” released in 2018 Wendi is a decorated artist, she obtained a Bachelors of Music in Music Business and Voice from Berklee College of Music and a Bio-Chem degree from The College of The Bahamas. Wendi also has some experience working in the music industry, as she has worked with Atlantic Records and EMI Records.
Wendi has been singing since the age of four, she has an undying love for Pop music, an unwavering respect for Rake-and-scrape, and has recently taken on the art form of soca music. Wendi is currently a four time Bahamian Icon Award Nominee, one time winner. In addition, she is the recipient of a Hollywood Music Media Award, International Soca Award for Music Video of the Year in 2018. This year, she won the 2019 Elevation Award for Female Artist of the Year for the second time, first time being in 2017. Wendi has been blessed with the opportunity of being featured in several T.V. shows, newspapers, concerts, and of course their annual Junkanoo celebration.
Yes, other than being a breathtaking tourist attracting Caribbean island with a new carnival, The Bahamas remains well known for their annual Junkanoo parade(s) and rake-and-scrape music (an art form that utilizes the goatskin drum (Goombay) to create a distinct rhythmic base).
Credit: National Geographic
While the Junkanoo celebration is similar to Carnival in ways, it has historical roots in West Africa and the Bahamas Carnival is a separate celebration and was launched in 2015. Junkanoo, is an annual celebration which occurs on Boxing Day and again on New Year’s Day. The true origin of Junkanoo, a celebration that can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries, it’s true origin remains unknown often debated. Similar to Calypso music and Trinidadian Soca, Rake-and-scrape can often be heard in Bahamian Soca. It remains a sound forever embedded in the history and evolution of Bahamian music. Take a listen to Wendi—Down Home Party to get a feel of how that fusion sounds.
According to Wendi, her journey into Soca music truly was influenced by her involvement with Visage Band. Visage Band, is the number one party band in The Bahamas, and Wendi and her husband Dyson are two of the lead singers for the band. Not only do they both write for the band, Dyson also produces. Dyson, one of the lead singers for Baha Men, a Bahamian group founded in the late 70’s, well known for their 2000 hit song “Who Let The Dogs Out”–a group that is standing the test of time as Bahamian music and audience continues to grow.
I asked Dyson what some of his thoughts were on Wendi’s journey in music so far, he stated:
“I think Wendi has all the qualities it takes to be a great role model for women; all women. Especially those who really work hard and want to been seen as professionals in their careers. She is very hardworking, trusting, talented, and she believes in what she is doing–wholeheartedly.”
Feel free to check out some of Dyson’s 2019 releases :
Check out this soca song featuring both Wendi and Dyson: “Fling it up”
I got a chance to interview Wendi, here are some highlights of our conversation:
1. When did you decide to pursue soca music?
My best friend in college put me on to soca and the fete/carnival experience; I’ve loved it ever since. To be clear, I’ve always considered myself a Pop artist that is able to perform over any type of production. When I came back from university I joined Visage; my husband and band really inspired me from there. It was actually the hit song “Happy Hour” that we released that really introduced me into this sphere of Caribbean music. In 2014, the government launched that the country would doing a carnival the following year and it was perfect timing.
2. What are one of your goals as an artist representing The Bahamas?
I really want to see the next superstar come out of our country, when you think of a global artist that comes from an island you can often point out a few. I would love to be that person.
3. Who are some soca artists that you could see yourself collaborating with in the future?
Well I am a huge fan of Kes, from years ago when Nadia Batson was in his band. Of course Machel Montano, who is one of the most popular soca artists. And I am a fan of Destra, not only because she is a female artist, but she is vocalist.
4. What are some of the challenges for you as an artist and how are you working to overcome them?
Some of the challenges I see is a battle for space and sound on the stations, being that we are so small, visibility is something that we need.
5. How do you feel the Carnival celebration and soca music is being received in The Bahamas overall?
Mixed reception. The backlash typically coming from the religious sector, as The Bahamas is well known for being religious. But then you have those who are excited and ready to pump and embrace it; soca even is being played more and more on the radio now.
6. What is a message that you would send to individuals who have yet to attend Bahamas Carnival and or get accustomed to Bahamian soca?
You should come to Bahamas carnival firstly because of the location; the country is really, really beautiful. A lot of the events happen on the these picturesque areas of the island and so to me, location is number one. The hospitality of the people is worth mentioning for sure. Bahamians are known to be very laid back, hospitable, and helping. What is unique is that you will experience our local music, there is a difference in Bahamian soca music that one must experience. They will get an opportunity to experience the Junkaoo fusion, our food, and our one of a kind costumes made with excellent craftsmanship.
Check out one of Wendi’s latest releases for 2019 Soca:
Wendi- Bang Bang
Song Title: Bang Bang
Written by: Anwar McDonald, Wendy Lewis Knight, & Dyson Knight
Performed by: Wendi
Produced by: Freddie ‘Gotsykz’ Seymour, Leonardo ‘Sniper’ Rogers, Dyson Knight, Benjamin Alexander
Recorded at Gotstykz Music Studio, The Bahamas
To get in contact with the artist, Wendi:
Management and Public Relations (PR): Yolanda Hanna
Contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org