NINE months after being shot in Trinidad, Tobago singer Anthony Bacchus – formerly known as Junior Bana, now King Bana – is giving thanks for life with new music and a new mindset.
The singer, who turns 33 on Wednesday, will host a thanksgiving celebration on his birthday, at Zion Hill basketball court, Belle Garden, at 3 pm. He said the event is being held in collaboration with the Zion Youth Association, of which he is a member, "to keep the culture alive, keep the culture of our village Belle Garden alive and keep positive and fun activities for the children of the village and Tobago."
Also expected to perform on Wednesday are Xavier Edwardz, Stephanie Joseph, Trip the Artiste, Prince Unique and Trinidad Killa.
The former New Tobago Monarch runner-up was among a group shot in a house in Laventille last November. Three people, including two 17-year-olds, were killed.
Bacchus was shot multiple times in his chest and spent weeks at hospital recovering from two collapsed lungs.
He told Sunday Newsday on Thursday that he wants to use his experiences to guide youths to make the right decisions in life.
In May 2020, Bacchus apologised to the government and his fans after pleading guilty to possession of 84 grammes of marijuana. The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill permits each adult 30 grammes of marijuana in their possession.
Bacchus said, "I want my birthday to be a contributing factor for the kids. I want to highlight the more positive aspects of life. I was a victim of gun violence and I also want to highlight my stance against gun violence and share my experience and give positive motivation to the youths."
Bacchus, known for his groovy style, said his injuries could have ended his career as an artiste.
"It was a real reality check. As a person who also liked gun violence, because I am young and I like some music with some gun lyrics, it made me open my eyes to be a better person."
Bacchus said he wants to be candid with the public about the healing process.
"It's a mental challenge and physical challenge – it's a painful healing process.
"It has crippled part of my body. Some parts of my body don't have feeling. That challenges me to write, I am a right-hander and I was shot twice in my right hand. I can't close my right hand and make a fist or hold a pen like I usually do. I try to hold a pen with my last three fingers – I must say thank God for technology that I can continue writing music on my phone.
"To be a breadwinner and be a father, it's a struggle because I can't use my right hand."
Asked whether the incident has made him reflect on his catchphrase "my team," Bacchus said it did not.
"I will continue saying: 'My team.' No matter if someone I expect more from gives less. Just them saying my slogan gives me a lot of drive and zeal. The prayers from Tobagonians while I was in hospital were powerful and meaningful. God reflect that in my life and gave me a second chance.
"I have a companion next to my side who stood up in my defence and took care of me. Although I'm hunting love all over the place (for my music), I have a lot of love right here."
Bacchus said his music will reflect his new mindset, but he will be no hypocrite. He added that it is important to be comfortable in your own skin.
"I have made a little change in my music due to the perspective. It's not like I get shot and now I acting nice.
"I want to develop a better image, a better character, a better artiste. I consider myself a global artiste – the way I speak, the way I communicate, the way I sing, the way I write music. It must be something to communicate to Tobago but also the rest of the world. My aim is to be real, to put my emotion in it, to put fun and love in my music, to let the love of my music reflect to the listening public. The new Bana – King Bana – just wants to spread joy and fun."
Addressing how he ended up in Trinidad, Bacchus said many Tobago artistes are forced to migrate to Trinidad to launch their career. He said Shurwayne Winchester, Calypso Rose and Mighty Shadow took their careers to the next level after leaving the island,
He said covid19 also forced him to explore other income-generating opportunities.
"Covid was a wake-up call for a lot of us. I was like everybody else, trying to survive and improvise in ways of making income. I was not working at the Airports Authority any more. I moved to Trinidad, I did some work with a construction company. I was writing music and recording in La Horquetta and Valsayn. I was starting up a small record label with owners of a building there, experimenting with different types of music."
However, he said life in Trinidad is very different from Tobago.
"Trinidad is a faster life, it's a busier life and it's more dangerous than Tobago. I love both islands but the reality of me migrating and being exposed to all elements, I realised how dangerous Trinidad can be at times."
He said the music industry in Tobago is not as advanced as Trinidad but slowly, Tobago artistes are getting the respect they deserve.
Since returning to Tobago, Bacchus has recorded music for RB Islands studio from Canada and recorded three tracks at Studio Impact in Trinidad.
"I want to encourage the fans to listen out for progressive music. Patience is a key factor in life. The music will continue getting better. My first release for Tobago Carnival is Living Life. I would love for the world to play it, but I write this for my people."
He is hoping to bring out a music video for the song.
He encouraged anyone interested to donate whatever they could for the thanksgiving to help put a smile on a child's face.
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With reporting by Elizabeth Gonzales