We’ve heard the saying, “behind every great man stands a great woman,” but how about, “behind every great man stands someone who counted him out”?
Voicemail’s Kevin Blair used his experience with naysayers to deliver a message about being consistent, at the fifth instalment of ‘Long Story Short’ at Grosvenor Terrace in Kingston last night.
Used to telling stories in songs and poems, opening up before an intimate audience without a live band was new for Blair, but the warm, open-armed, blanket-friendly space proved encouraging.
Blair’s musical voyage commenced as a child living with his extended family in St Elizabeth. As a scare tactic to get him home before nightfall, his grandfather told stories of ‘rolling calf’ in the bushes. On occasions where young Kevin found himself on the road late, “Mi used to sing every song I could think of at the top of my voice until mi reach home, cause we nuh waan hear no noise a rattle fi give we heart attack…that’s basically where my singing started.”
But he had no interest in being a singer. He was more into cricket and played football and basketball with friends after moving to Sherlock Crescent in Kingston.
“We used to hang on a corner after playing and I remember one day a lady passed and looked straight in my face and said, ‘none of unno a go turn out to nothing at all, unno a go dead by next year’ and that kinda lingered with me.”
Though he wrote poems and was an avid cassette buyer from Cassette Ninja, Blair still didn’t believe in himself, but added, “I kept bumping into music.”
“Blair’s story was one of turning a negative to a positive, and listening to life’s whispers.”
In 1999 he took his friends, aspiring superstars, to an audition, and was encouraged by a woman he was dating to try out too. It was no easy sell, but he auditioned, and the friends became Voicemail.
“What really got me to do it were those words the lady said to me, they never left me at any point.”
He even wrote a song about it and shared it with listeners. Blair’s story was one of turning a negative to a positive, and listening to life’s whispers.
“I’m not a person who likes to speak but I like the energy and vibe,” Blair told BUZZ. “Every now and again I go into the community and see I see the lady, and we talk, we’re all good.”
Yoga teacher Trishan Haughton also shared her story, ‘Flow with the Current’, which also dealt with defying odds.
After leaving her life in Jamaica to embark on a new chapter at an Indian university, Haughton was met with some culture shock, albino cockroaches, and pregnancy.
With no money and India’s strict school policy, Haughton decided to keep her baby, drop out of school and return to Jamaica.
Tensions in her family made for a stressful pregnancy, added to the baby’s father going MIA and her not finding a job.
Everything changed when her friend gifted her two yoga classes, which ignited an appetite to pursue yoga training and become certified in 2012. Haughton has been using the discipline to heal people ever since, and said she is on her way to becoming Jamaica’s first yoga therapist.
“We really wanted to create a safe space where people can just bare their souls to us.”— Event co-organiser, Daniel Edwards
There were also heart-tugging stories from artiste Him-Pac, whose life and near-death experience as a Zouki truck driver left him with a prosthetic leg, but also led him to a career in music.
Funny stories balanced the lot from entrepreneur Sara Stanford, and Larren Peart shared his journey of conquering fear to establish his own business and having limitless Milo supply at his office (stingily accessible at his old gig).
The evening flowed with smooth vocalist, Jaz Elise, whose acoustic offering of Rock and Groove and Fresh and Clean was well-received.
First-time patron Ursula Williams is already planning on attending the next staging on February 15.
“All of them were quite interesting; as Jamaicans we have a lot of stories to tell so I think this is an excellent concept and I enjoyed it.”
Event co-organiser Daniel Edwards said the platform is en route to becoming a cultural phenomenon.
“The cultural impact has grown tremendously, a lot of people know about it and have been engaging the content,” he said. “We really wanted to create a safe space where people can just bare their souls to us, and creatives have been coming and giving their support.”
Catch more highlights from the event in our gallery below.