She’s grown up before our very eyes, and 2018 seems to be the year Patrice Roberts will be having her most meteoric – and what many fans may label overdue – claim of success.
The singer hasn’t only come into her own; her 2018 musical offerings have been seeing steady rises in online views and airplay on local and regional radio since their release, and there doesn’t seem to be any force that can derail Patrice’s come-up.
From her undeniable talent singing in school calypso competitions, to claiming the National Junior Calypso Monarch title in 2001, to her first Road March title alongside Machel Montano for their collaboration “Band of the Year” in 2006, to last year’s “Big Girl Now” in which she expressed her independence and growth as a woman and mother, Patrice has been on a steady rise as a force to be reckoned with in local music for over a decade.
Her 2018 runaway hit “Sweet Fuh Days” is being touted in many quarters as a serious Road March contender and she’s seen massive crowd reaction as a headliner in several fetes for the 2018 season.
“Initially when I heard the song in the demo format there were elements I was sold on and there were some aspects I was not certain about,” she says of “Sweet Fuh Days”. Relying on her mother, Hanifa’s judgment in the final decision for her song choices, Patrice says Hanifa was the one who pushed her to record the song.
The lyrics hearken back to Carnivals of yesteryear. Patrice says, “As far as the sound and style being intentional on my part, I did not pen the lyrics but in chatting with (songwriter) Jovan James, he did share that he pulls inspirations from many sources, as is the case with many creatives.”
“Jovan was trying to capture the essence of Carnival, back in the days when you would see masqueraders playing mas and singing the songs in their entirety. He really felt like that part was missing.”
With its live instrumentation and drums (the track was produced by Red Boyz), the song’s melody has already been moving audiences to proclaim Carnival 2018 as Patrice’s.
Although a star in her own right from Carnival seasons past, the power of technology and its role in the wide accessibility of soca music to audiences internationally has significantly impacted the way Patrice’s supporters engage with and support her.
She also thinks social media has helped shape her brand and image, and has exposed her followers to her true essence as a woman and artist, not to mention the countless hours of hard work, preparation, and determination that she feeds her craft. “I love social media!” she laughs.
“The fans can see the hard work and I am thankful and humbled.”
During our conversation, she reflects on the journey calypso and soca has taken her on, into the hearts of Trinis and international fans alike.
“When I started singing calypso I was young and pretty timid, although I thought I was brave at that point in time,” she chuckles at the memory.
“Now I am grown, I have traveled extensively, and I have experienced many things that I am able to apply to my life goals and career.”
Hers has been quite a public journey, and with the triumphs have also come the harsh realities of being a woman within the soca industry.
“Being a woman in this business is not easy; you have to prove your worth and keep. You have to work a little bit harder and push a bit more to get to where you are – but in the end the rewards will be great,” she comments on the determination and drive that has kept her at the top of her game year in and out.
“Do not feel pressured to compromise who you are. We all know our worth. If it doesn’t feel like the right way, then most likely it isn’t. There’s always gonna be the right opportunity at the right time. Be patient but persistent,” she advises other women, whether their sights are set on the soca industry, creative artistry, entrepreneurship, or formal education.
It is advice that has gotten her through her own times of self-doubt or trepidation, and has helped her blossom magnificently.
Another significant influence in Patrice’s life was the birth in 2016 of her daughter, Lyara, a precocious youngster who is now looking up to her mother and following in her every step.
“She listens to what I say and shadows me, and that is a reminder to always do my best.” Patrice acknowledges that her daughter has inspired her to never falter, and boosted her confidence as an artiste.
“My daughter has been afforded a good life, one that I work extremely hard to give her, but she is going to learn about the importance of hard work and giving back,” says Patrice adamantly.
Apart from her career in soca, the singer is also focusing on creating a legacy for her young one from an early age; one that Lyara can grow into and call her own when she is ready to take up the reigns. Later this year, she plans on launching a girls’ clothing line with Lyara in mind.
This Carnival season, Patrice has opted to sit out of the International Soca Monarch (ISM) competition – a decision that will hardly affect her popularity and staying power in 2018. But speaking on the pressures of competing on large stages, such as the ISM, Patrice reminds the public that putting out music for the world to hear takes massive amounts of courage, let alone the act of performing onstage to hundreds or thousands of partygoers.
“It is important to embrace our wide range of artists because of the passion, effort, and energy that they put into their crafts. I mean, you can tell who is doing it wholeheartedly and that takes a type of energy that should be embraced,” she says, also commending the diverse singers and subgenres of soca that continue to emerge each Carnival season.
She understands that artistes cannot tell consumers how to feel about their music but hopes that audiences will continue to be open-minded and accepting of the evolution of soca.
“Understand that we are all trying to function in our spaces and advance our careers,” she urges listeners, who can at times be as savage as they are supportive.
The subject of her Toco upbringing and being a role model for girls and women in TT and beyond doesn’t unnerve her in the least. In fact, she says frankly, “I do not want to sound harsh but my intent was never to be anyone’s role model except for my daughter. My intention has always been to be true to myself, to show the real me, and to give all of me through my music.”
These are steadfast words and views from the once-timid performer.
The pressures of a TT audience no longer rest on her shoulders and now she embraces her artistry and womanhood in all their multitudes.
“Whatever qualities people see in me that are positive and they feel as though they want to emulate, then I appreciate that but sometimes the public forgets that we are human. I bleed, cry, feel pain, and I have my moments of sadness and anger,” she says of the sometimes impossibly high pedestal fans and onlookers place artistes upon.
But even in these moments of humanity, Patrice has not let up. The public’s support and outpouring of love this year are proof that her will to strive and succeed has not been in vain, and has only made her into a more empowered woman and artiste.
To her fellow girls, women, mothers, and dreamers, she encourages, “Follow your dreams, give your best, believe in God and the results will be bountiful. Sometimes as women we question our own strength.
“We are strong, we are powerful, and we should remember this at all times.”