Sanctuary: A mega love for writing

Look at the amazing display of colours on the road!


The opening line of Mega Monday, the 2014 release from Rommel Sanctuary Bennett.

A sea of colour at Bushy Park.
A sea of colour at Bushy Park.

The 34-year-old is best known for his writing talent, penning songs for Tarah Holdipp, Blood, Mikey, Biggie Irie and Alison Hinds; but on Soca Sunday, earlier this week, his hit occupied the third place position in the Sweet Soca competition held at Bushy Park.

Recounting how the idea for the song was born, Sanctuary explained that the concept came from carnival –– “basically realizing that carnival day, almost in every single Caribbean island, is held on Monday”.

Labour Day is on Monday; Kadooment Day is on Monday. Our best days of the year are our bank holidays that fall on Monday. I saw an advertisement on the Net saying this mega something and I said, ‘Wow, that is it!’. From there I put the mega with the Monday and I went with the idea.

“I went in the studio and it just shaped up from there. I went in by Slam City with Chris Allman. Me and a fella, Antonio Young D Johnson, we just started to write. Chris did the musical background, and it was just a blast.

“After that, Richard Haynes from Baje came to me after he heard the song in the studio. He was like chaa! how we could come up with the same idea. He had a mega idea for his band, which too has the Mega Monday theme,” he told Bajan Vibes.

Sanctuary’s songwriting career began after the death in 2002 of his cousin Henderson Collymore, who was also a writer.

A year later, he heard about songwriting and voice training classes and decided to apply. The course was then offered by the Ministry of Education.

“Although Crop Over is going on now, I am writing for Carnival next year. I can’t wait for Crop Over done to wait for Carnival start, to start writing for Carnival. Artistes come to me for Carnival like around now or from the middle of Crop Over, so I have to split myself from being an entertainer into being a writer all of the time.

“[But] I love writing and I love entertaining. I don’t know which one I love the most, but I know I could sit down and I could write ten, 12 songs a night just as long as I have the work. I’ve done it more than once and I have been doing this from 2008.”

Of the transition from being behind the pen just writing to being behind the microphone and on stage, Sanctuary noted that this had been a different experience.

“Writing a song and watching an artiste doing it is really different from being on the stage. Up there [on stage], you have to count in so many different things. Background vocalists, the crowd . . . yuh doan know if the crowd gun like like yuh, or if they gun boo yuh.

“I mean, most of the time I go out on the stage, I doan know what is going to happen. Because I don’t get the feedback from the crowd, because I’m hardly in the crowd now. I’m mostly at home in the studio or on stage. I spend the most of my time writing,” he said.

And this love shows. This year alone, Sanctuary has has written 30 songs, 20 of which have been taken by various artistes. There is Next To De Rope sung by Mikey, which also made it to Bushy Park for the Sweet Soca Finals, and Alison Hind’s Soca Animal.

“I just love to know when I could write a song for an artiste that portrays that artiste –– like when I write for Alison Hinds. I think I can write anything for Alison because her range is like phenomenal. Writing for people like that, I think I like to more than singing on the stage. Seriously!

“To know that you could actually get into the psyche of an artiste and actually write something that them for themselves never thought of before and it could take them further, that is more an accomplishment than me being on stage. That’s just my love for writing,” Sanctuary revealed.


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