Many of them started showcasing their talents in Chrystal ‘TESS’ Charles’ backyard at the beloved entertainer’s ‘no-judgment, all love’ monthly open mic nights she dubbed B(ring) Y(our) O(wn) C(reativity) in April 2017. Some of them are veterans of the spoken word poetry scene trailblazed by the Towers of Babel, a performing arts troupe that first formed in 2011. One of them is a classically trained instrumentalist; another mimics the vocal gymnastics of Adele with hair raising aplomb, control and subtlety. You seriously must see them perform live to appreciate the depth and diversity of performing arts talent in the Turks & Caicos.
Out of the relaxed vibe of BYOC where attendees nervously pluck up the courage to read personal poems from their journals, a few extraordinary gifts shone through seemingly destined for greater exposure. “I call them the BYOC All-Stars,” TESS always says before introducing one of them to the mic. With honey coated vocal chords, sonically soothing saxophones, classically trained ballet movements, original raps, live paintings, West African choreography, and roots and reggae guitar instrumentals, these performers have lately gone beyond open mics and TESS’s backyard to more refined showcases and professional gigs around the island and beyond.
They first met at BYOC and now, painter Aysha Stephen and saxophonist Maurice Clarke have formed a duo called Vibrant Vibrations in which Stephen transforms the mood of Clarke’s saxophone melodies into live paintings on canvas. Stephen’s ability to elucidate the notes of Clarke’s sax has been a hit at local hotels, restaurants, and events around the island.
Even further ashore, local artists are taking international flight with their recording and performing artistry.
A local legend amongst hip-hop enthusiasts, lyrical prodigy Olivia Graveley, better known as Lady Livi, seems furthest out the gate in her quest to gain global recognition. As the 2015 winner of the internationally produced Island MMT Showcase held in Nassau, Bahamas, Lady Livi was propelled into the hip-hop upper room with mentorship from famed producer Bryan-Michael-Cox. Since then, Graveley has completed a multi-city-stop American tour with other rising talents where she was successfully scouted as a writer for Interscope Records.
For 2019, the Grand Turk born rapper is planning the release of her anticipated EP Daddy Issues II which boasts features from bold faced American recording stars like Siya. Of the project and her trajectory Graveley says, “I put my heart into that. I put my soul into that. Once you listen to my music, you’ll know who I really am.”
Zelma Hernandez, an outstanding vocalist who has paired her talent with local guitar maestro Gordon Kerr to prepare a portfolio of classic and contemporary arrangements, is due to hit the local professional scene starting 2019 as well.
The burgeoning professional bug has also been caught by dancer Tray Robinson who trained professionally in Philadelphia last summer and is currently teaching contemporary, jazz, and ballet to younger kids on island. With scheduled auditions for international dance companies slated for early 2019, it seems the big stage is calling Robinson to step into the lights.
With his effortlessly catchy tune ‘Dollas’ (a BYOC favorite) premiering hilariously relatable visuals in his newly released music video, DonJon has cemented a local hit that gets any crowd dancing.
Of the brewing local and international exposure of performers who’ve come out (and still perform in) her backyard, TESS says, “I feel proud, happy, and excited to know that BYOC has played some small part in these artists’ ascensions into their current path. We’re seeing the growth and development of an original Turks & Caicos music and performing arts scene in and out of the country. It’s lit.”