Music buzz (July/August 2007)

Bermudan singer Collie Budz is the latest reggae sensation burning up the airwaves • Harewood House, a Leeds estate built from the sweat of slaves

Collie Buddz. Photograph by Dan Mandell, Courtesy Sony/BMG RecordsPerformers from Carnival Messiah at Harewood House, West Yorkshire, England. Photograph by Paul Hodgson

Buddzing talent

Bermudan singer Collie Buddz is the latest sensation to rock the reggae world. His fully-charged hit single, “Come Around”, continues to enjoy regular airplay several months after its initial release, while his live performances have garnered praise on both sides of the Atlantic, including the reggae homeland of Jamaica. The young singer also made many columnists’ Best of 2006 lists, despite having only released two singles at the time.

Born Colin Harper in New Orleans in 1981, Buddz was raised in Bermuda by his Bermudan mother from the age of six, after the death of his American father. Fascinated with music from an early age, Buddz gained a degree in recording engineering from Florida’s Full Sail Academy in 2001; he then tried his hand at music production in Bermuda, but found local artists reluctant to work with him, forcing him to ultimately seek regular employment in construction. When his brother subsequently arranged a teaching post in Toronto, Buddz jumped at the chance, only to find on arrival that the staff member who hired him had just been fired, leaving the fresh recruit without a job.

Perhaps it was all a blessing in disguise, as with more time to concentrate on his music, and with further encouragement from his brother, Buddz linked with respected music manager Dino Delvaille, who bagged him a lucrative deal with Sony Records. Having already voiced a duet with Beyoncé, it is clear that the only way is up for Mr Buddz.

David Katz


Songs of freedom

This September, Geraldine Connor’s epic musical Carnival Messiah will be presented in a rather unusual setting. The mammoth production will be staged under a 1,000-seat big top on the lawn of the sprawling Harewood House, home of the Queen’s cousin the Earl of Harewood, and an estate built on the profits made from 18th-century slave plantations.

Created and directed by Connor—daughter of Trinidadian musician Edric Connor—Carnival Messiah is a radical re-setting of Handel’s Messiah, infused with music and dance that run the gamut of Trinidadian folk culture. It was first staged, to impressive reviews, at England’s West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1999 and 2002, and at Trinidad and Tobago’s Queen’s Hall in 2003 and 2004. This time, it is being remounted during events in the United Kingdom marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

The producer of Carnival Messiah is Viscount David Lascelles, son of the Earl of Harewood, heir apparent to the earldom, and 40th in line to the throne of England. Lascelles is frank about his family’s wealth, and also keen to make Harewood a positive part of community activities in Leeds and beyond.
“It’s nearly 250 years since Henry Lascelles made his fortune, but there are some in Leeds’ West Indian community and beyond who still see the estate as a symbol of that cruel and tragic time,” Lascelles explains.

“Britain today is a multicultural society. That’s not a matter for debate, it’s a fact,” he says emphatically. “If the bicentenary is to have any lasting effect we have to engage with it and use the estate as a venue for people to debate it. To me, by staging [Carnival Messiah], there is a sense that things have come full circle.”

In addition to a 50-strong community cast that will come from the Leeds area, several Trinidadian performers will make the trip to Harewood House, including choreographer Carole La Chapelle with a cast of top dancers, and performers Ataklan, Sheldon Blackman, Alyson Brown, Renée Castle, Ann Fridal, and Ella Andall (see Beat‘s profile of Andall on page 48).

Caroline Taylor

Carnival Messiah runs from September 14 to 30. For more information, visit: www.harewood.org