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Cover story


Ricky Jordan

Cover story

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The copping of awards and gaining of nominations aside, Bajan group Cover Drive are quickly discovering that showbusiness is not all glitz and glamour.
The four-member band, which hit No. 1 on the British charts in January, and was recently nominated for a Soul Train Award in the United States, told the WEEKEND NATION last week that one of the major sacrifices they have had to make was that of romantic relationships.
With refreshing frankness, lead vocalist Amanda Reifer stated: “A personal life does not exist.”
T-Ray Armstrong, the “little drummer boy” whom Amanda used to babysit, but who has since turned the tables somewhat, explained: “If you were to get in a relationship with someone, it has to be with someone in the industry who understands how it works and everything, because with a girlfriend outside of the industry it won’t work out.”
“The thing is, it’s a 24-hour job,” Amanda chimed in, amid nods from the other bandmates guitarist Barry “Bar-Man” Hill and bassist Jamar Harding.
“We’re always writing. In fact, at midnight you might get a song idea and you have to work on it; you can’t just leave it.
“Basically, it’s all-consuming, and we’re in it to really build a long-lasting career. So we’ve allotted ourselves about five years, which means we won’t get into relationships for the time being.”
For T-Ray and Jamar, 19, Barry, 23, and Amanda 21, such strength of focus is a delightful surprise, and makes a telling point for any youth who grasps a career and makes the necessary sacrifices early. And for Cover Drive, the focus is driven by a natural desire to succeed.
“Our careers are our lives. I mean I can’t see myself doing anything else,” admitted T-Ray.
“It’s become such a part of us that we do it without having to think about it. We write songs, go on social network media . . . everything to make our career work; and so far it has been working out very well.
“It’s a feeling of contentment, and no matter what happens along the road, good or bad, there’s this contented feeling that you know this is what you want to do, and you learn from all of the experiences associated with the journey,” Amanda added.
Such commitment, tied to the encouragement of fans wherever they go, keeps Cover Drive on track, including experiences like the V Festival in England where, the band recalled, over 40 000 people waved lights and sang along to their music; and in Spain where, on their first visit, 15 000 people who could not speak a word of English sang every word of Twilight.
“It’s overwhelming because it becomes emotional in that what you dreamt about you’re now seeing happening in reality. For example, the four of us wrote a song in a basement, and then to see thousands of people singing along . . . ,” said T-Ray.
“Everyone wants to know about the financial rewards. Obviously you make money while doing it, but we do it because we love it. We get to wake up every morning and do what we love, and practically it works,” he added.
Since reaching No. 1 on the British charts with Twilight, the group have released three singles, and their first album Bajan Style, which went into the British Top 20. They have also performed as the opening act for a number of British artistes while promoting the album that seeks to capture the laid-back vibe of Bajan living.
Though most fans range in age between 12 and 20, the group has been amazed at the reception among Bajans living in England.
“It’s pretty amazing when we perform at gigs and see the Bajan Flag go up. At first you didn’t see so many; but now you see so many Bajan Flags up there, and people shouting, ‘I’m from Barbados, I’m from St Joseph’ or ‘St Andrew’,” said Amanda.
In fact, among the group’s best moments there so far have been an opportunity to dine with High Commissioner Donville Clarke and to perform at Wembley Stadium at a show of varied performers dubbed Summertime Brawl before 80 000 people.
“It’s been a great learning experience for us and we’ve definitely grown up. The workload never eases up; when the work eases up that’s when you get worried,” T-Ray says.

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