SIMBA AMANI will start a new chapter in his already colourful music career at the Mayaro Resource Centre on July 13, with the launch of The Live Experience, an 18-member band comprising both young and experienced arrangers, instrumentalists and vocalists, who like him, all hail from remote rural areas.
Amani, born Kurtly Ravello in Cushe Village–a small community in Rio Claro–has already established his name as a solo performer of a roots-reggae-type genre.
The fact that he and the other band members come from countryside villages like Moruga and Mayaro, is in itself of special significance.
"There are some challenges (growing up in the countryside)," Amani said, speaking to Newsday on the launch of the band. "...Not just in regard to infrastructural underdevelopment, but also a scarcity of opportunities to harness home-grown talent within the community itself and to be recognised on a wider scope."
"More often (than not), one has to leave the countryside for town in order to further pursuits and to gain access to the necessary resources that it takes to become established."
He said, among his objectives, is to exhibit the talents of people from the countryside, without having to leave the rural communities.
"The idea is to provide youths with an opportunity to develop and enhance their talent and skills through music, establish themselves as professionals and to hold firm to the values and culture of country folks. (We are) on a mission to shed some light on the wealth of talent that exists within his community," said Amani.
Amani, elaborating on the band's talented membership, said it is not restricted to a particular genre of music, but offers a mesh of brass, pan, customary instruments, and at least eight "beautiful voices."
The band members range from 17-40 years and include several experienced arrangers and music teachers.
"The Live Experience offers a mix of your favourite genres and favourite songs with their own special touch added. "(It) is a one-of-a-kind movement coming from the countryside, and the mission is to touch the world," he added.
The band members include: Neville John (keyboard), Aquil Arrindell (pan), Renata Francis (saxophone), Leo Jackson (bass), Adriel King (guitar), Darrell Leacock (trombone), Akiel Charles (percussion), Esa Samuel (African drums), Keelan Brandon (trumpet), Jorder Lewis (drums), with locals from Akeem Augustus, Syntyche Bishop, Chloe Bishop, Shinell Mohammed, Shinisse Mohammed, Genna Derrell and Whitney Julien.
"Yes (it is a considerable milestone in my music career) because I believe music and my talent should be used as a tool for the benefit of others, whether it be one of my songs impacting on someone's life positively or something like this, being a part of a band that creates a platform for others to join in to make a name for themselves. It is positive in various ways," he said.
No stranger to the stage, Amani has enjoyed a colourful career in music, performing alongside Grammy-award winners such as Damian Marley and Morgan Heritage.
Amani debuted with a single named Hello in 2009, before releasing his first official music video two years later for a piece entitled Hold My Peace.
He was once the lead vocalist for a parang band and culture group called Friends, consisting mostly of older men from Lopinot, in which he was introduced to performing with live instruments.
He spoke on the impact this new venture will have on his solo career, given his new commitments to the band.
"I must admit that whilst it's a step forward on a business level and the experience with a live band is essential for an artist, it takes so much of my time now in the growing stages, that I see myself eventually having to manage things better with regard to my solo career and ensuring that my personal goals aren't compromised.
"For now, I'm doing a mixture of my original compositions and cover songs which previously I wasn't a fan of. Inasmuch as this is the first stage towards our goal as a band, it is critically important that I don't exclude my solo career because I do have my personal mark to make; I do have my own legacy to work on.
"Eventually, along with the band, I hope to have some live productions recorded and tour with the band locally and abroad.
On another milestone, Amani said he will launch another major venture at the concert –a non-profit foundation he calls Kushe From Birth, which he wants to use to provide underprivileged children with school supplies, and eventually scholarships.
The foundation's name, he said, is symbolic of one's pride being from, and representing the countryside.
Although Kushe From Birth is in the concept stage and is yet to be registered, Amani said he intends to divulge more information about the Kushe From Birth foundation at the band launch.
"The foundation is still in the concept stage, in that it is not yet registered. However, I do plan to make it known at the event what it symbolises and represents and to make public some of the foundation's objectives.
The concert, which falls on Amani's 30th birthday, will feature special guest artistes such as Isasha, Braveboy, Yung Rudd and M1.
For more info on the band's launch, visit Amani's Facebook, search Simba Amani, or on Instagram at simba_amani868.