Wednesday 8 July, 2020

Entertainers remind Bajans COVID-19 won't win: This is who we are

Frontline workers were celebrated in 'This is who we are'. (Screengrab from the music)

Frontline workers were celebrated in 'This is who we are'. (Screengrab from the music)

Barbadians are resilient.

With every lyric, with every note in the newest COVID-19 anthem, the local entertainment fraternity has once again answered the call to inspire and motivate the strong people of Barbados.

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Bajan creatives have collaborated in a national rallying cry as a timely reminder that “This is who we are”. It’s a song that speaks to the innate pride and resilience of every Barbadian and a fitting inspiration in the midst of the nation’s fight against a global pandemic. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on economies and societies the world over.

Released as Barbados enters Phase 5 and reopens all doors except the island's borders to commercial flights, this project, which was heralded as “a masterpiece of Bajan culture, ingenuity and downright genius” by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, was commissioned by her and coordinated by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). 

In an address to the nation before she premiered the 'This is who we are' music video, she said:

"Very early in this pandemic response, I asked the officials at the National Cultural Foundation to commission a song that would speak to that phrase 'This is who we are'. A song that would capture our essence as Bajans; a song that could be shared with anyone, anywhere in the world, and lift up their spirits; a song released at the right time to remind us of our humanity, to remind us that we are resilient. To remind us that together we can overcome and achieve everything and anything.” 

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The lyrics were co-written by Edwin 'De General' Yearwood and Stetson 'Red Plastic Bag' Witlshire with Ricky 'Lil Rick' Reid and Peter 'Ram' Wiggins penning their individual parts. It was produced and arranged by Nicholas Brancker.

The 100 per cent Bajan production was released at the end of the PM’s address to the nation on June 11.

At that time PM Mottley stated that the project was “to serve both as a reminder of the road travelled thus far in this COVID-19 journey as well as the bold faith, confidence and courage that will be required as we go forth in Jesus’ name.”

The opening scenes of the video, which accompanies the inspirational song, features picturesque scenes from across the island’s landscape. Entertainers, both seasoned and emerging, then blend their vocals to encourage Barbadians. They reminded that even though “throughout the world, it’s a time that seems so dark…the sun still shines in our heart”.

Artistes from across a spectrum of genres came together to play their part in letting “love go viral” and letting the whole world know what makes being a Barbadian so special. A special tribute was paid to several frontline workers as images of health, supermarket and charity workers were included in the video.

Some of those featured on the song were singers like The Mighty Gabby, Alan Sheppard, Alison Hinds, Mahalia of 2 Mile Hill, Marvay, BoBo, Biggie Irie, Philip Scantlebury, Saddis, Tamara Marshall, the orange-haired songbird Nikita, Ch’An, Trinity Clarke, and gospel powerhouses Paula Hinds and Alison Norville. Lil Rick and Ram add a special element with their chanting skills while Sister Marshall CBE, Mighty Grynner and Classic shared encouraging words throughout the clip.

When contacted about being a part of the project, Edwin told Loop News:

“I believe the song is fitting for the people of our tiny nation who held it together way better than some big major countries and kept the country safe. We even took the time to take care of others from other countries ‘cause this is who we are. Although it’s far from over and so many are still at-risk and [there has been a] serious loss of income, we can still fight the fight because I truly believe this is who we are.”

Meanwhile, Soca Monarch Mikey shared these sentiments: “I'm honoured to be a part of the project. I think it speaks a lot to who we are as a people, to our core. We showed that even during the toughest time, we showed love to our own and even some visitors. Bajans are renowned for being a loving people.  In a time of adversity, I think this song captured it beautifully...'cause this is who WE are.”

In a similar vein, Mahalia shared: “I was happy to be asked to be a part of this national initiative and I’ll always do my part to uplift and encourage my people. This is my home and we’re in this together. We now have work to do.”

The inspirational clip concludes with the parting words of PM Mia Amor Mottley who reiterates: “Love will always bring us together; love will always see us through. This is who we are!”

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