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Overcoming obstacles

by Kimberley Cummins

Obstacles are nothing but stepping stones for singer, songwriter and dancer, DeeVine.

Also known as Denise Walke-Phillips, from a child she said she always knew she wanted to be an international artist. Born in London, she journeyed to Barbados at the age of six where she remained until she was 18 years old, when she returned to her birth place.

Her career was put on hold so she could pursue academic studies, then later again to raise a family. The emotional, and sometimes physical, abuse she said she suffered also stopped her and made it hard from her to follow her goals.

In 2009, life again interrupted on her lifelong dream when her husband, Wendell Phillips, was killed in a motorcycle accident on the island. This left the mother of two young boys, Kyle, now 14, and Jayden, nine, with the responsibility of raising them on her own.

“While I was married I gave music up to raise my family. Since my husband’s death it has been okay so far, I started back singing a year after his death because I had nothing left to keep myself sane for my kids.

“I am still struggling to believe I can do it. If someone puts you down all the time you start to believe what they say, but I have been blessed in this short space of time since coming out. Counselling, the guidance of my mother — she is a strong woman and motivator my life and my kids also have helped a lot.”

DeeVine is now determined and motivated more than ever to reach her goal. So far she has had much success singing both reggae and soca; she performed at the Democratic Labour Party and Barbados Labour Party dinners and dance. She has performed in Canada, at soca fetes; and next month she is scheduled to perform in Luton, at the United Kingdom Reggae Awards and Miami Carnival.

“Of course I have performed in Barbados,” said said, at the Ranch, CBC’s Festival Stage and at Q in the Community in July and August this year.

The former Parkinson Memorial Secondary School student has even been labelled the “Soca Queen of London” by fellow Britons. Nonetheless, she said, while she loved the original Soca Queen, Alison Hinds, she did not want to be compared to her since she had her own sound and style.

The 30-plus year old artist first became recognised for singing soca, but she admitted she only performed that genre for fun and as a way to “get out there”. Her true love was really reggae, and she said she was a big fan of Bob Marley and Gregory Isaacs.

On the other hand, she made it clear she had no intentions of being boxed into one genre, so she had “mixed up” her style to include all types of music, starting with two projects in rhythm and blues and dance.

To date she had two music videos, both recorded in Bim during the past summer, one of which featured Philip 7. She has also recorded ten songs so far, including Sweet Love, In Ah Circle, Sit & Winee, Soca Fete, De Stress, Bumpas On De Road and Missing You. A new track featuring Problem Child will be released in a few months.

“I am just recording with artists over here in different genres; because of my success so far a lot of artists are contacting me to do collaborations with them. I have loads planned for my future, I just need to find committed people to work with. Some things I don’t want to say ’til I have them in action because I have had people steal my ideas.

“Music wise, I’m just working on my album and a switch in the music. I am recording a lot more reggae and R&B. I want to be making good music that people enjoy; I want to be an international artist. Hopefully in five years I want to be signed to a record label and having my own tours,” she said.

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