Songbird at home down under
CANBERRA – Pudding and souse with pigtails is the only missing dish on the menu of Janell Katalyst Waithe’s enjoyable, new life in Australia.
Give the 29-year-old songbird her favourite delicacy every Saturday and she would truly feel at home in the beautiful, sunny and cricket-crazy Australian capital of Canberra where she has called home for the last three years.
Her name might not be a household one in Barbados, but in calypso circles she is well known and remembered for co-writing and singing the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s Socoholics jingle with Mikey, Keanne, Lorenzo and Blood.
She has never won a crown, but was loved for her collaborations with Mikey with Down In The Valley and even made it to the Sweet Soca semi-finals with Choir. Many believed that she had the potential to go further.
So what made Janell, or let’s stick with her nickname and stage name Katalyst, a woman with so much promise, head Down Under for a new life?
“I had the opportunity to study a field I have always been interested in . . . and, I was at the time dating an Australian,”she explained. “So the possibility of a future here seemed promising.”
The former Foundation School student added: “It was a risk but I think it was worth it even as I found myself here alone from last year.”
But that loneliness didn’t last long.
Studying for a bachelor of communication in advertising and bachelor of marketing management at the University of Canberra presented her with the opportunity to meet people from all backgrounds, social classes and religions.
“It’s always an adventure. I have emerged myself into the culture, festivals, food and adventures. Living in Canberra, getting to Sydney and Melbourne is easily accessible. Those cities always have a festival, major sports event or concert on.
“But I also love the relaxed nature of Canberra. It took a while to get the humour here but with an understanding of the vocabulary the laughs are now many,” she joked.
Hailing from St Catherine’s in St Philip, she has many family and friends who she interacts with via Whats App and facebook weekly. But it was when the West Indies team played Zimbabwe at the ICC Cricket World Cup last month that she got to link with good Bajan and Caribbean friends and cricketers such as Sulieman Benn and Chris Gayle who made her feel like she was at home again.
“I love cricket. Seeing the West Indies win was such a joy. But you can’t live here and not love this game. As you can see it is played on every corner and on Saturdays seeing cricket matches from every division is just like being home.”
Race relations have apparently been a hot topic in Barbados recently and Katalyst has been reading and watching from a distance with a smile.
She herself is in an inter-racial relationship and never even gave colour a thought when it came to choosing her mate.
“We haven’t encountered any prejudice as a couple. And any prejudice I have encountered has been from people with limited education or life experiences, some of whom have never travelled,” she pointed out with her beau next to her.
A large majority of Canberra residents come from North-West Europe, Southern and Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. Her plan is to stay put and visit as much of the world while she can and interact as much as possible with people from those different countries.
Yes, she misses her parents, siblings and even those 5 a.m workouts at Skeetes Bay. But she is now moving to a different tune and has no immediate plans to return to Barbados.
Singing is not so important for her as it was before. However, in the words of her former colleague Mikey, this is how she “enjoys her life,” living in Canberra.
The pudding and souse would have to wait a bit longer.