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Tabitha: on a musical mission

NATANGA SMITH, [email protected]

Tabitha: on a musical mission

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Another day in the life of me

So much stress, confusion, worry

Need a saviour, help me please

Nothing seems to go my way

I ain’t got a job, I got bills to pay

I know it just ain’t right

Can’t give up, never lose this fight

THOSE ARE SOME of the lyrics to Tabitha Johnson’s new release, Better Must Come (produced and recorded in Jamaica by Klyve Records).

“This song came about when I was sitting pondering my next move in life. Seeing the daily struggles of others, feeling down but wanting myself and people to remember they should never lose hope or faith. It’s basically a reminder to myself to remain positive.”

Positive thinking is what has gotten Tabitha where she is now. The singer songwriter started taking music seriously around age 16.

“When I was younger whenever I was asked ‘what I want to be or what I want to do’ I would tell people I just want to be great at whatever I do. Music just happened to me. But I always loved music so I guess in a way it was meant to be. I just didn’t know it when I was younger that music would be such a big part of my life.”

Tabitha, 29, was born in Marburg, Germany. She moved with mum to Barbados when she was six months old (she lived in St Thomas for most of her childhood with three sisters – Sarah, Rebecca and Naomi – and a brother, Asher).

Tabitha is a well-known reggae singer and she says she grew up hearing her mum “playing a lot of reggae music”.

“From Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh and so on, so I guess one would say reggae was always in my blood,” she said.

“But I like all types of music. I try not to limit myself to one particular genre. I draw inspiration from all over the world. I’m heavy into reggae and Afrobeat right now.”

In 2001 Tabitha had the opportunity to perform Girls Dem Suga with Jamaican dancehall sensation Beenie Man at Reggae Summer Jam in Germany. In 2004 she was chosen to be part of the West Indian group Caribbean Vizion, and she toured the Caribbean for two years singing and acting in a school play.

Gaining confidence and skills, it was time for Tabitha to spread her wings. In 2010 she ventured into the world of television, hosting a show on CBC-TV called Eggonomics. In that same year she was offered a spot as backing vocalist with Buggy And The Fully Loaded Band, of which she is still a member.

In 2011 Tabitha had the honour to sing yet another duet but this time with Haitian superstar Wyclef Jean (of The Fugees fame) at Reggae On The Hill at Farley Hill. In 2012 Tabitha showcased her talent at Honey Jam Barbados. In 2014 the songstress again graced Farley Hill to perform and was warmly received at Reggae On The Hill by an audience of over 20 000 people, opening for artistes such as Tessanne Chin, Jah Cure, Beres Hammond and Chronixx. She was back again the following year.

Tabitha is all about putting her thoughts on paper, graduating from poems to transforming them into songs.

“The first song I wrote was a soca song called Wave. And I got help from Trezay (Barbadian hip-hop artiste) who assisted me with the writing of it,” says Tabitha, who is learning to play percussion instruments.

“In my travels around the world I find it opens my eyes to something new each time. I think the more I open my mind to different aspects of life my writing grows with this. I draw inspiration from what’s happening in the world, my country, my neighbourhood and so on. I write about life in general.

“I have no timing to write. It’s a process that I just let happen. When a vibe hits me, I write. When I get an idea, I write. All depends on my mood and surrounding as well.”

In 2015 Tabitha had the honour to tour Qatar with Buggy And The Fully Loaded Band, bringing sweet reggae vibes to the Middle East.

“My travels to Qatar were amazing. I went to Qatar from September 2015 to December 2015. I returned home in time for the Barbados Music Awards where I won Reggae Female Artiste Of The Year. I left Barbados again in February 2016 and came back in June. The entertainment scene in Qatar is booming, especially as it pertains to reggae and dancehall music.

“The music/club/party scene is alive in Qatar. While we were there we were performing for St Regis Hotel at their reggae beach party weekly.

Tabitha says she keeps writing and performing for her fans.

“I do it for the people who appreciate my music. Everyone who has come up to me and said Your song has helped me today’ or ‘Keep it up Tabitha, you inspire me’. Also seeing what happens daily and wanting to be the change I wish to see in the world.”

Influenced by artistes such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Alison Hinds, Queen Ifrica and a long list of reggae artistes from around the globe, Tabitha is ready to prove to the industry, her friends and fans that she too can hit the top.

Tabitha is one of Barbados’ best kept secrets, with her strong lyrics, her bubbly and positive personality, long dreadlocks and pretty hazel eyes, but she won’t be a secret for long.

“I have some interesting projects coming up, one with a Jamaican artiste and then some other collabs. I perform with David Kirton the first Friday of every month at Blakeys. I will be on the scene here in Barbados the rest of the year at least so where there is a reggae show you will see me there.

“I am not where I want to be in my music career, but I am working on it.”