Faith ‘Imani’ Hoyte. (Picture by MorganMedia)
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If you are someone who not will bring positive energy all day long into the space where Faith Hoyte is right now, then you are not welcomed.
The 34-year-old singer says 2018 is the rebirth of Imani: more focused, more confident, more passionate . . . more hungry.
“I am about positivity. All I want is to keep improving myself. This year I am back with a new team and a new attitude. I was at the lowest point in my life last year where I didn’t even want to do music,” said the former People’s Monarch.
In a tell-it-all interview with EASY, the singer said she wanted to come clean about the last two years where she was in a dark place.
Faith’s background in music is well known. She has been on the scene since 1997 [Richard Stoute Teen Talent contest] and also doing background vocals for calypso heavy-hitters Edwin, Alison Hinds, Biggie Irie and others.
In 2013 she decided to become a solo artiste and Imani was born.
“My mum asked me to keep Faith as my stage name, but I wanted something that would stand out. In my research I found the Swahili version of Faith was Imani.”
Red Boyz took on the task of finding the right sound and songs for Imani. That was in writer Jason “Shaft” Bishop who had written Me.
“They wanted me to have a fusion. Not straight soca but a mixture of R&B and pop. And I am a singer, so the song appealed to me.”
Next year came Bacchanal Road [Shaft again]: “We went through a process of listening to about ten songs then we chose Bacchanal Road. That was the song for my fans. They loved it and I won People’s Monarch and came second in Road March. I went Trinidad.”
She had two songs in 2015, Wet, which had a music video and Fire Meh which went to the Sweet Soca finals. Both were again written by Shaft.
That competition, which should have been a momentous event was where her problems began to build.
“I went on stage miserable and unhappy. I didn’t even want to be there. I didn’t have the full support of my then team. That year it was a whole set of negativity and pain . . . . I wanted to just get on the stage and get off.”
That was when Imani decided a change was gonna come.
“It is important as an artiste to have a team around you that supports you. If you don’t know the business you are gonna get hurt and as a woman you are more vunerable,” she said, with a sad look on her face.
Imani said she felt hatred from “all corners”. She called the situation “tough and difficult”. She cited examples of DJs and producers asking for “special favours” in turn for their work with her music. She said she had even been blacklisted.
“The most important thing for me was to hold my ground . . . my standards were my reputation. If it is that my song isn’t played because I respected myself, fine with me.”
In 2016 she didn’t enter any competitions but she still released a song, Meh Body written by Jus D and Sanctuary.
“That year I was in a reflective mode. And that continued into 2017 with the song Journey. I was in a totally different mindset last year. Terminated some contracts. Lost a few people I thought were in my circle.
“I wasn’t about the competition. I was about figuring out what was next for Imani. I did the songs because I needed to also keep myself relevant and my fans where still asking for me.
“In those two years I was off my mailbox was still full and my phone had so many messages from people.”
One of those people in her corner is Chris Allman. In her new journey of figuring out what’s next he hooked her up with new managers Monique Hinds and Mechelle Forde.
“They are two women who are entrepreneurs and have the same mindset. We met and discussed where we want to go and then here we are,” she said, laughing.
“Here we are” is Imani’s performance this Friday as one of 16 singing to get a spot in the Sweet Soca finals.
Her song All Day Long was written by Bjorn Graham, Kit Israel and Chris Allman and produced by Allman, Israel and Alex Gooding. Backing vocals was added by Damian Marvay who is also into the semi-finals.
It has a live band which Imani says was the perfect touch and picking the song generated a “healthy discussion”.
“I am so happy to be once again having this opportunity. Back out and into a competition is just a blessing. It is two years since I have been on stage so I can’t wait to perform.”
Imani says her thoughts on competition can go either way.
“What I can say it gets you more recognition and your song gets more airplay. It is also a reward to win with it. It is hard work you put in. As an artiste studio time, production and so on is expensive. It is not just on stage looking pretty.”
And that is where image comes in. The artiste who changes her looks every so often said how you look on stage is just as important as how you sound.
“I am an emotional and passionate person . . . . My look is very sexy. You have to hold a certain standard. I have to keep my brand growing. When I perform my look goes with my songs.”
She thanks her team and sponsors Barbados Cancer Society.
“I vent to my team when I get stressed out or I go for a swim. My sponsors are behind me so I have my outfits and make-up and hair ready for interviews and events.”
Imani said the plan is not to be seasonal and she wants to build a repertoire where she can have a set for 30 to 45 minutes. She wants to go overseas with a couple more women to have a soca queen show.
“I have made my mistakes. I will also take my share of blame but I will get back up every time I am knocked down. It might take me a bit longer than some others but I will get back on my feet and keep going.
“For any female who wants to get into this business I would say know more about the business. Ask questions. Find someone you can trust. Find a team that has your back. Also not everyone is your friend. But all day long keep positive.” (NS)