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Ricky Jordan

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YET ANOTHER BARBADIAN name is dominating international music charts.
It’s pop quartet CoverDrive, which went to No.1 on the British singles charts Sunday with its track Twilight, which was only released last week.
The meteoric Twilight, confirmed as having jumped from No.84 to No.1 in a matter of days by Britain’s Official Charts Company, removed last week’s top-selling Brit singer/songwriter Jessie J.
It marks an amazing feat for the group which signed a publishing deal with Sony and a recording deal with Geffen less than a year ago.
“I’m still trying to process this,” drummer T. Ray Armstrong Jr told the DAILY NATION in a telephone interview from London. “It is absolutely incredible. Last year, I was in a basement doing covers, now we’re on top of the official British charts.”
His mother and manager of the group, Kerrie Armstrong, said she always believed in the project but didn’t think it would make an impact so quickly.
“I was preparing for more hard work because that’s the nature of the business, but Twilight seems to be just the right song at the right time. It’s grey in London right now but the song makes listeners feel as if they’re on a beach in Barbados,” an elated Kerrie added.
The group, ranging from age 18 to 23, comprises lead singer and lone female Amanda Reifer, drummer “T-Ray”, guitarist Barry “Bar Man” Hill and bassist Jamar Harding, who all started by rehearsing in the Armstrongs’ basement before shopping their music on YouTube.
Within two months, they were getting responses from international labels.
“It has all paid off,” Amanda told the DAILY NATION yesterday. “We’re so excited, so elated . . . there’s not one word that can describe our feelings right now.”
She added that since headlining the Rihanna concert here in August, another single, Lick Ya Down, reached No. 9 on the British charts and led to a United Kingdom tour with rapper Dappy in December.
“We released the video for Twilight around that time [December], and realized that people knew the words and were singing along even though it wasn’t on radio yet,” Reifer recalled.
“On January 22, the song went on sale and literally flew up the charts from 84 to 29, then quickly from seven right up to No. 2. It was also No. 1 on iTunes for five days competing with big names like Jesse J. So many stations have A-listed it! We were sitting in the BBC room and . . . when it was announced as No. 1, it was really emotional. We had gone through so much, from people not believing in us . . .  .”
The next move for CoverDrive, which is influenced by the music of No Doubt, Blackeyed Peas, Rihanna and Bruno Mars, is to shoot a video for their third single next week in New York, then release their 12-track album, Bajan Style.
“[It’s] a culmination of ten months of nonstop writing of over 100 songs,” said Reifer.
Calling the group young ambassadors for Barbados, Kerrie said they not only talked to the fans about their homeland but were “like a whole new face for Barbados, a young, hip, cool face”.
Kerrie and her husband Ray, who travel alternately as managers, said they both foresaw “T-Ray”, the eldest of their three children, moving on from The St Michael School to Barbados Community College and then university, but they have allowed him to live out his own dream.
“With both parents having musical backgrounds, I should’ve known [and] though they’re not in school at this time, they’re learning the music business, and they’re willing to work hard each day, and that’s a credit to their schooling in Barbados – the fact that they can absorb and adapt so quickly,” said Kerrie.