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Sense of purpose

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Sense of purpose

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There’s something to be said for getting older. You tend to look at life a little differently, become more honest about your feelings, tend to sweat the small stuff less, and basically feel more comfortable in your own skin. That is exactly where 42-year-old seasoned singer Terencia TC Coward finds herself these days.
As TC, clad in jeans and a T-shirt, sauntered into a Christ Church eatery to meet with EASY MAGAZINE, she was clearly a woman with a renewed sense of purpose, and a more focused gleam in her eye.
With the moments from Crop-Over 2010 etched in her memory, TC has her sights set on her own future, in terms of her off-stage career, her spirituality, which she credits with keeping her grounded, not to mention weekly Bible-study sessions, and the well-being of her nieces and nephews, whom she admits doting unabashedly on.
Like most entertainers who have endured the peaks and valleys that accompany a career in the spotlight, often having to reinvent themselves, TC has remained committed to the local music scene, even when she has had to endure her own self-imposed sabbaticals.
“Performing has been good to me but sometimes your star is rising and then sometimes things just slow down and once things slow down you’re either going to try to reinvent yourself or step back and start again,” she said candidly during our pizza lunch. “I needed to do that so I stepped away from being on stage about five years ago. I did a little bit of broadcasting for about four years. Then while I was doing that a headhunter found me and told me that Sagicor needed people to sell insurance.”
Never one to shy away from a new opportunity, TC immersed herself in the world of work.
“I’m an overachiever by nature, so when I went into insurance at Sagicor I put my head down and worked my butt off,” she said. “I’m doing good at the work thing. I made the Sagicor Honours Club two years in a row.”
What working at Sagicor also did was give TC constant exposure to her fans.
“I work in Bridgetown and naturally people see you. That’s when I realised how many fans I had. People feel comfortable now to come and have a chat,” she said, smiling. “I think that as a result of that I actually got a lot more comfortable with my public.
“How’s the pizza?” she asked with an inquiring smile as she continued to savour the meat-laden delicacy. “I’m a carnivore by nature and love meat.”
Turning her attention back to the conversation, I steered her towards discussing the influence she has had on the female segment of the population.
“There’s also that part of TC when it comes to women’s issues that I find quite humbling, in terms of taking women’s issues to the fore. I’ve been blessed where that is concerned,” she said.
“I don’t believe enough light is shed as it relates to the empowerment of women, HIV/AIDS, and as it relates to domestic violence and women.”
But apart from her influence on the  public, she is very proud of her record in terms of the positive nature of her lyrics, especially to young girls.
“Earlier this year I did a two-day seminar with UNIFEM on Stop The Violence. It was myself, Natahlee, Edwin Yearwood, and other artistes from the region. What we realised in the workshop is that for most young females their first sexual experience is almost always violent.
“Then we started to listen to songs and break songs down and realise how music influences our young people. I’m proud to be able to say what I put on record is something that ten years from now I’m comfortable with and I don’t have to worry that I set a bad example for our young women or young men.”
Perhaps that is her overprotective nature coming out, especially when it comes to children.
“I don’t have children of my own but I spend so much time with my nieces and nephews it’s amazing,” she said proudly, also crediting them with keeping her grounded.
“But I think it’s important to take those issues to heart and move forward with them. I’m quite willing to be that person to do it.”
Her penchant for running with causes is why she’s so concerned about the future of women in the music industry locally. After 17 years in the business, she is not pleased about how women are faring in that arena.
“If you look at the cast for a show, it tells you basically where women stand,” she said. “During the Crop-Over period, if you were going to look at the cast for all the events that were held, whether private or not, you would see the number of women on stage was three and in some cases none.
“For example, take Labour Day in New York. I’ll bring it up because at 42 I’m not afraid. You got a cast that features every single monarch in Barbados with the exception of me. It’s an NCF-sponsored event. It’s not about the monarchs, but there are no women in the cast . . . Out of Crop-Over 2010 – even if you said to yourself whatever happened at Bushy Park, TC is not a popular monarch – where are the women who represent the industry?
“Those are the things we need to look at. I don’t think it’s anything that is owed to us because we’re female – I think we have earned our place.”
That pride of place, especially her place in the world now, has given TC a certain peace and a confident swagger that she admits eluded her years earlier.
“I’m actually reading a book called Awakening At MidLife. I think my life started to turn around when I began that book. It’s all about controlling your ego and not letting your ego control you. [The book] said half the things you do in your life are because your ego is in control.
“When you learn to control your ego, you get a little more focused. You learn to apologise or say I’m sorry. You learn to see things and let them go. At 42, I’ve learnt to see a lot of things and let them go.”