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New girl group Sahara on the scene

Yvette Best

New girl group Sahara on the scene

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The entertainment scene is barren of girl bands.
And it is a virtual desert as far as Barbados and the Caribbean is concerned.
Enter Nikkita Browne, Betty Payne and the not so well known Faith Hoyte, who can all name the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition as their genesis on the national stage.
The three pooled their individual talents together and came up with something unexpectedly “hot” and so scorching that they have branded themselves Sahara.
It was Hoyte who thought of the name, after so many were rejected. Browne was sold on Sahara from the start but Payne was slow to warm up to it.
“When people think of it, they think more dry than hot. But I thought of the hot aspect of the whole Sahara thing,” Hoyte explained.
“I had to say it over and over . . . . Yes, there’s the hot aspect, but I’m thinking the Sahara Desert is something that is timeless. Its beauty is one of the wonders of the world. It’s like a place where new discoveries are made every day; so I think that is us,” Payne said more philosophically.
Both Payne and Browne, who perform on the hotel circuit, are known as session singers. Payne is the more experienced. She has an album out and did a three-city tour of China where she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sheila E and Taylor Dane.
Hoyte, on the other hand, has always been in the background on vocals, mostly in the studios. She has done vocals on tracks for Rupee and Mr Dale.  
After opening for Philip 7 and Masala at McBride’s a few weeks ago, the group made its official debut at the same club in St Lawrence Gap two Monday nights ago to a packed venue. They were backed by drummer Melvin Allick, Kirk Layne on keyboards and bassist Jullian Griffith, with whom the girls have a good bond.
The two experienced girls have performed in groups before and they both say the experience with Sahara is a first. Browne described it as a breath of fresh air.
Some might call it fate, others destiny, but their union could just as easily not have taken place.
Hoyte was a last-minute addition on a tour with Arturo Tappin to Bequai in January. An engineer became unavailable and Browne used the opportunity to get her friend, whom she had been constantly nudging, to get on board and make use of the ticket that had already been paid for.
Browne said the bond was almost instantaneous. Plus, they complement each other well vocally.
They’re looking to take the group to the world and say they have been given the stamp of approval by world-class performer Arturo Tappin, who has been named Sahara’s godfather.  
If Tappin’s endorsement was not enough, the girls said they were hunted down after their debut performance by Craig Thomas, who has a close relationship with the music executive who signed Cover Drive.
“He actually took videos, took pictures and everything. He said, ‘You guys are awesome’, and he wants to do some recordings and send them to him; he is personally going to [deliver them],” Hoyte said excitedly.
The girls have some big plans for Sahara, but they are not totally in the clouds as far as the state of affairs on the local front is concerned.
“I think what we’re looking to do with Sahara is take it global, take it international; something that has never been done, ever, from Barbados. [Since] artistes like Rihanna and now recently discovered Cover Drive, I guess people are now seeing that we as Barbadians can do a lot more.
“So I think that is what we all are hoping to do in terms of getting on some shows and tours overseas – recording original music and just marketing and promoting ourselves on a global scale,” Payne explained.
Browne added that although things were still pretty new and they were still trying to figure some things out, “we do know exactly where we want to go”.
They are fully aware that they are taking a huge gamble that could possibly see them falling by the wayside, like many of the bands that have surfaced in the past. And they are aware that entertainment is not high on people’s agenda in these tough economic times. Yet, they still believe that the timing for Sahara was right.
“The market is definitely right. There aren’t any girl bands. We have experience, we’ve been there,” they said confidently.
The WEEKEND NATION saw the band in action on Monday night and it is definitely worth the hype.
Taking turns on lead, the girls in Sahara rocked a near capacity crowd at McBride’s in two scorching sets that included a number of covers like Twilight, Man Down, Single Ladies, Moves Like Jagger, Human Nature and Can’t Be My Lover.
Conscious that the trend is for female artists to wear sparse costumes, the Sahara girls are not about that. They favour tasteful attire that is not raunchy, with not too much hanging out at the top or bottom. And they achieved that with their black and silver ensembles.