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Ishiaka feeling Vibes this year


Ishiaka feeling Vibes this year

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ISHIAKA MCNEIL is back in the thick of things for Crop Over 2015, after a three-year break. It is a big year for the Headliners Tent singer, who is celebrating his 20th year in the calypso arena. He entered the Junior Calypso Monarch competition in 1995, and reached the finals on two occasions.

Like so many others at the junior level have done, Ishiaka moved on to the bigger stage and has gone all the way to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals. He was in the “big yard” on two consecutive occasions in 2003 and 2004. 

Ishiaka has been through a lot over the two decades, and that has taught him quite a bit, but he arguably had his most life-defining lesson when he lost everything to fire on November 17, 2013.

“Having lost all my material possessions made me realise the things we think we need to survive, we don’t really need. It has taught me to appreciate the life God has given me; it taught me humility to never take things and people for granted and to appreciate life and most importantly – family.

“After such a tragedy the mental and emotional rebuilding of oneself is paramount. Many days are a struggle because you tend to become frustrated because your possessions are no longer at arm’s length. Refocusing your energy and mindset to adapt to one’s environment is important and it takes time, focus and the backing of family and friends to become settled on one’s new path,” Ishiaka told EASY magazine.

He took a break from active participation in the festival three years ago, and took the time to put some things in perspective.

“I just needed to take a break to redefine myself as a calypso artiste, and to become a spectator in order to have a better idea as to what each generation is hungry for, in terms of the country’s musical landscape,” he explained.

He was away from the frontlines, but he was still involved in writing. Ishiaka actually wrote My Tribute, which helped Sammy G to her second junior title last year. And while he did not write for Sammy G this time around, he said he will be working with her for Pic-O-De-Crop.

His love for the art form kept calling him, and he has answered the call. Fans will get a generous taste of Ishiaka’s party side as well as the social commentaries they have become accustomed to in 2015.

Ishiaka will be making his presence felt in both The Sweet Soca and Party Monarch as well as the Pic-O-De-Crop competitions.

“I’m working on a song called Violence, a little uptempo kinda style song, but it speaks to what is going on in society right now. I also have a song called Vibes – that’s the Party Monarch song. And then the other song is called I’ll Drink to That, which is the Sweet Soca song,” Ishiaka revealed.

But whatever fortunes befall him, Ishiaka said he just plans to have fun and enjoy the “sweetest summer festival”.

Quite apart for singing, Ishiaka has carved out a niche for himself as an actor and is a part of the Laff-If-Off cast. He said the singing and acting feed off of each other.

“Theatre incorporates music, dance and acting. Being an actor helped to propel me in terms of my soca performances, especially if you are telling a story in the song. You are able to [bring it to] life and become that character. Theatre also helps me to understand themes of reflection in the voice. Theatre is the building block for me to execute my artistry as a singer. I can say music and performance is theatre in its own right – they go hand in hand,” he opined.

There is yet another side to Ishiaka which he seems to enjoy most – father. His pride and joy is his “pumpkin munchkin” Adanya and like most doting fathers, Ishiaka cherishes the attention showered on him during this month of June.

But Ishiaka says Adanya is his source of inspiration every day of the year.

“I find children give you the inspiration to wake up and strive for goals even more passionately than normal. I want to give my little “pumpkin munchkin” the world, but in reality I can only shower her with love and my unwavering support as a father, as she grows into my little princess,” he said.

As far as Adanya following in his footsteps and performing on stage in whatever capacity is concerned, Ishiaka prefers to look at the now.

“She is only two years old and we are focusing on potty training, the alphabet and counting at the moment. The stage will have to wait.”