Edwin Yearwood (Picture by Shaka Mayers)
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EDWIN YEARWOOD BELIEVES he is a “better man” after all he has overcome. In 1995 he rose to stardom when he created history by winning all three competitions – Pic-O-De-Crop, Party Monarch and Tune Of The Crop.
Now – exactly 20 years later – the entertainer and lead singer of the band krosfyah, admits that that period has left him with lasting memories of success, painful scars and valuable lessons.
And although the going got a bit tough at times, he was never afraid of being who he is.
“I’m very proud of the 20 years. I am happy to have been a part of that [history]. I was all about doing something different. I had to breathe who I was. I needed my music to speak of who I was and I wasn’t afraid to do something different.”
Back then, Edwin and krosfyah came under heavy criticism for their dress, their music, and their fans. Those who supported the band were labelled as “a cult-like following”.
“In the face of all the adversity and criticism I wanted to do me. Even though I knew it [criticism] was coming, I wasn’t fully prepared for it . . . . It was painful.
“It had its moments but not to the point where I wanted to shut down or quit. There are staining memories. To this day I think I still have scars from it.”
Known also as The General, Edwin said he battled many things over the years, including uncomfortable moments with fellow entertainers.
“I was an introvert to begin with. But this entire thing made me go into my shell more as a person. You would get me on stage, but after I leave the stage you would never know what is going on with me. It was difficult to be sitting next to an entertainer who would be so cool but as soon as you leave . . . .
“I have heard recorded conversations. So I felt it was better for me to be in my four corners at home. That is my world. As soon as I step out my house I always felt I had to look over my shoulder. Up to 15 years ago it was difficult having to deal with that on a daily basis. When you didn’t know who is genuine.”
The only artiste to have won five Party Monarchs said one of the toughest lessons was how to trust people.
“I learnt that you can turn away someone who is a genuine fan because you are unable to trust. You can turn away some who sincerely wants to meet you.
“A simple thing like passing a block and saying ‘good morning’ and getting cuss because you are Edwin Yearwood . . . . Then I say to myself, ‘Well, I will just pass and say nothing’. My only regret is that that changed me from who I was . . . I am very, very cautious of who I talk to, who I meet.”
He was a bit mentally prepared for the negativity having read countless Les Browne and Anthony Robins books.
The wounds started to heal when he started travelling with krosfyah and when his music reaped resounding success overseas. He felt vindicated since his songs were called “ballads”.
“Ninety per cent of the time we travelled to Caribbean territories the prime minister, government ministers and government representatives greeted us on the tarmac.
“It was a fanatic thing . . . . It was a fantastic time. I enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed watching people enjoy Bajan music, not just krosfyah but Barbadian culture.
“I have lived long enough that I never thought it would happen I never thought Trinidad experience of ‘wine’ would change to ‘wuk up’. I believe that came from what was happening with krosfyah and Square One at the time . . . what a writer in Trinidad called The Bajan Invasion.”
The 46-year-old said krosfyah – now celebrating 25 years – had changed the way Bajan entertainers were treated.
“We have achieved a lot and I think a lot of people benefitted from us. We changed the approach to music, the approach to professionalism, in the approach to respect for artistes.”
The Parkinson Secondary alumnus, who has won the World Soca Monarch, dismissed talk about comparing krosfyah with other bands.
“I remember being on the stage at East Coast with 30 000 people or more . . . I have never heard of a band in Barbados which has done that since.
“You can’t liken Spice to krosfyah you can’t liken Merrymen to Spice . . . It is a different generation. Those guys made serious inroads to the movement of the music and what krosfyah achieved.”
Edwin won his first competition, the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest, at age 14.
Since then The General, along with krosfyah, went on to add numerous accolades
to their portfolio, including being awarded the keys to the city of Boston by the mayor in 1996. And the next year they received a gold-plated CD plaque for selling over 50 000 copies of the album Ultimate Party – Pump Me Up. (continued on page 2)