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Biggie bowing out

by Kimberley Cummins

Do not look for Geoffrey Biggie Irie Cordle in the Sweet Soca competition next year.

Always outspoken about his dislike for competitions, he is among the soca artists aiming to dethrone Red Plastic Bag of his Sweet Soca title this Sunday.

But in an interview with Barbados TODAY yesterday evening at the Lester Vaughan School, he said he had made the decision step aside to give younger artists an opportunity at being highlighted through the same competitions.

“I don’t think that I will do this again- Sweet Soca – because every year it is the same eight – give somebody else a chance. People are losing focus and a lot of people aren’t singing any more, they are just into antics; it is a Sweet Soca competition which means you have to sing sweet. The only way the same eight are not going to be picked every year is if some of us just don’t compete.

“There can be progression, but for instance in the likes of Basil, he had a really good song this year, Yannick Hopper, Brett Linton has a good song, but I think the judges are looking for experienced, good singers. And the only way it could change is if the eight that are there put out a really bad song and don’t get chosen or if you just sit out for one or two years. Next year I will still put out a groovy soca song but I will probably sit out of the Sweet Soca competition,” he said.

Instead, Biggie said, as a member of the ADC/Digicel Big Show tent said he would “maybe” compete in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition. He said it was always a goal of his to do so and this year he had two songs written for it but to prepare for such a competition took a lot of work so he postponed his entry.

“Unless you are a Bag or Gabby” he said, “You can’t come and do that just so you got to prepare for that a year before”.

The veteran became known to Barbadians singing reggae in the band Exodus in 1986, and later with the Splash Band where they brought the timeless classic Get Busy. He said that while soca was paying the bills, had him touring and performing; basically “putting food on the table” reggae would always be his first love, “reggae is me”, he said.

The “People’s Songbird”, as some may call him, also spent time with the acclaimed Spice & Co. band and he had songs such as: Ten Tonnes of Love and Rub the Belly with Mighty Whitey and Fatman but it was in 2006 when he won the International Groovy Soca Monarch in Trinidad and Tobago singing Nah Going Home that his ability became widespread.

His motto was “less is always more” and on the night of the competition, some may say his presentation was too simple, but Biggie brought the best presentation he could- his voice. It was in such fine form that it blew the rest of the competition away and had the thousands gathered at the Haseley Crawford stadium repeating the same refrain.

Since then he has had hits, Big Girls, Mas, this year which was written by Rommell Sanctuary Bennett. Bennett as well wrote the 2011 hit Cyann Be Ova, which even with a hoarse voice garnered a second place position in the Sweet Soca competition. He admitted though, that none of the songs since had brought the same benefits as Nah Going Home.

“I am still doing some touring but obviously not like when I had Nah Going Home. When I had Nah Going Home I was touring every week but because of the economic situation things have kind of eased off a bit but they are picking back up gradually,” he said.

Known as one of Barbados’ sweetest voices, when Crop-Over is finished this year Biggie, will be shipping out to continue touring.

Earlier this year he performed in Guyana and Toronto, last weekend he was in Miami. Next he will travel to New York to perform at the Combermere reunion and along with Peter Ram, he was scheduled to embark on a three city tour, going to North and South Carolina and Connecticut. After he heads to Bermuda for the release of a John Lennon tribute CD called Double Fantasy on September 21.

Biggie, as well as Maxi Priest and other artists, are featured on the album performing Lennon covers.

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