EASY MAGAZINE: Where God and the music takes me
From as early as Woodz could remember, she had a strong desire to minister the gospel in song, not knowing that in just under five years that desire would take her throughout the world. Now it has taken her to a place where no other Barbadian female singer has gone before. As a matter of fact, it has taken her to a place where no other female from the Caribbean has ever gone.
Real name Neesha Wooding, Woodz has accomplished an historic feat of receiving a whopping nine nominations for her 12-track sophomore album Fyah at the prestigious Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards. The event will be held in the Bahamas from December 1 to 3.
No Barbadian act since the duo Danah almost a decade ago, has won a Caribbean Marlin Music Award. Fellow Barbarian gospel reggae artiste Arnal “Gozzy” Goslin and Pasquin Dodson are also nominated in six and five categories, respectively.
At just 29 years old, Woodz is up for: Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Music Video Of The Year, Calypso/Soca Song Of The Year, Soca Vocal Recording Of The Year —Female, Adapted Recording Of The Year, Dance Recording Of The Year, Reggae Vocal Of The Year-Female and Reggae Vocal Of The Year-duo. All this, from a little girl then attending the Christ Church Girls’ School and later The St Michael School whose only aim when she realised her talent wasn’t to achieve riches or fame, but to be a vessel for the Lord.
“I feel elated; overjoyed and humbled to have been nominated in all of these various categories . . .” an excited Woodz said.
“Since my inception in the gospel arena from 2012, I always desired to see Barbadian gospel music recognised on a more regional and international scale, and platforms like these make this possible. At times, it still feels so surreal because this is a huge achievement – to be nominated in categories with other outstanding artistes that I grew up listening to as a young girl, as well as to be the most nominated female nominee for my last project Fyah,” the 2016 recipient of the Barbados Music Awards Female Gospel Artiste Of The Year added.
In an interview with EASY recently, Woodz maintained that becoming a Christian at an early age helped to cement her dream. But even more, it shaped her true self and what she stood for. This was clearly evident as one indulged in her music.
Her unique delivery, the obvious passion for her faith and beliefs are some of the reasons listeners just cannot get enough of this young woman.
Woodz explained that growing up, many Caribbean Gospel artistes heavily influenced her, though she never tried to pattern her career after them because being authentically true to one self is crucially important.
Nevertheless, what these other artistes did was impact on her decision to pursue gospel in non-traditional genres like soca, reggae and dancehall. But at one point, even though her love for music never waned, there was some serious doubt about if it was even possible. Then, Woodz was enrolled at the Barbados Community College and while the love for music grew, balancing the two became difficult to the point that a choice had to be made.
But rather than stressing over what decision was right or wrong, she yielded herself to God and trusted Him.
“He made a way for me to do what I love,” Woodz declared.
The Adrenaline singer added: “It took a lot of sacrifice, prayers, tears and hard work. A determination never to give up despite lack of funding and support at times. Despite naysayers and negativity. I always held on to a dream I had in my heart and always held on to God because this was His purpose for me from the inception.
“I tried throughout the years to find myself as an artiste, stay true to who I am as an individual and let my love for God, people and music be evident in what I do. My debut album “ I Need You” was indeed a learning experience and I always try to improve my vocals, songwriting and choice of producer with every song that is created. So enhancing my sound over the years as well, aided in my development as an artiste and contributes to where I am today.”
Whether she wins or loses, the awards are not the zenith for the hit maker. She is currently working on new material and strategically planning her course for 2017. This year however, she is scheduled to travel quite a bit for the latter part of this year, and will be among the top names that include Sherwin Gardener, Jonathan Nelson as well as Israel Houghton and New Breed at Gospelfest Antigua and Barbuda next month.
To what inspires this singer/songwriter — God, nature, trials, struggles; essentially anything that is in and around us. With regards to song writing, she revealed that most times she doesn’t sit down to compose but rather words and melodies are randomly brought to life as she carries out routine daily duties.
The young woman explained: “As an artiste and an individual, what really drives me though are the people and the impact that my music and Gospel music has on a whole. There is no greater feeling than knowing when you step on a stage the songs you sing, that started off as a mere idea or demo, end up encouraging or comforting an individual or even leading them to a closer relationship with Christ. For me, even more than an award or accolades; this is the most rewarding feeling in the world. Knowing that through Jesus, lives are being changed is really the ultimate reward.
“Everyone has a dream. Some act on it, some let it die; maybe because of fear or feeling disappointment from a previous failed attempt but I hope that my life in some way inspires others to do what they love. After my bold step to go into music full time, a lot of people eventually approached me and said my story encouraged them to make steps into the right direction where their destiny and dreams are concerned. To know that I am an inspiration to others in some way also inspires me to keep moving forward,” Woodz noted. (SDB Media)