Guyanese expatriate takes on Trinidadian soca singers
By Miranda La Rose
February 2, 2003
A Guyanese-born singer, Brian Paton, singing under the name `Militant' is creating major waves in Trinidad and Tobago, with a soca rendition of `Passions'.
`Militant' is expected in Guyana for this year's Mashramani Costumed Bands and Float Parade. He did not disclose which band he had been invited to join, but said he was looking forward to being in Guyana after 18 years.
Militant's piece, Passions is one of the five leading contenders for the Carnival road march and he is currently one of 50 semi-finalists in the 2003 International Soca Monarch competition, which takes place on February 15 at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a- Pierre.
His song is competing with entries from 'gospelypso' (gospel/calypso) singer Sean Daniel, defending junior soca monarch Young Marcelle, Blazer, Crazy, Denise Belfon, Destra, Impulse and Wanski from Antigua.
Fifteen entries will go through to the finals at the Queen's Park Oval, Port-of- Spain, on February 28.
Militant, in a telephone interview with the Stabroek News said he was not keen on competition but threw in his entry at the last moment at the preliminaries held over a week ago. "I don't like competitions, but I had no choice," he said adding it was a matter of exposure to a wide range of options as well.
Militant, 29, is no stranger to the music scene and has travelled a bit, recording music. His first big hit of his own was `Hot and Groovy' which took him to New York, Miami and Boston. In New York, he recorded `N'zinga' - a song about a woman from Botswana, Africa, talking about soca music.
In an interview with Trinidad Guardian columnist Debbie Jacob recently, Militant said that most of his songs tell a story. He believes that songs that come from real experiences are the best because more feelings go into them.
He is not surprised that Passions, which is really a love song, is popular. The reaction at the studio, he said, was very good and he has not heard anything negative about the song since.
Asked about his background, Militant said he was born in Georgetown and lived in Roxanne Burnham Gardens until the age of 11 when he migrated to Trinidad with his mother, then Hazel Paton, who was remarried to a Trinidadian. His father still lives in Regent street.
Trinidad was a culture shock and he told the Guardian that he had heard a lot of good things about Trinidad when he lived in Guyana but he found living in Trinidad a lot harder. "The reactions of people to those who were from somewhere else was difficult to understand. I felt people were biased in certain ways. They used to say things about me not being from here. It was hard. It was the first time I ever experienced the feeling of bigotry, but I got used to it after a while. I learned to handle it."
Giving credit to music for saving his life, he said that growing up in Morvant and Laventille it was all gangs and violence which could have easily engulfed him. Two of his friends had been murdered and he was threatened once or twice. Once he was arrested for murder and attempted murder but he was cleared of the charges. "Life was tough."
Militant said that he sang in the youth choir and took part in plays at the Malick Senior Comprehensive School and in community singing competitions.
He told Stabroek News that he must have inherited some of his talent from his grandmother and mother who were involved in their church choir in Guyana. His grandmother, with whom he used to talk frequently on the telephone, died about a year ago in Guyana. His mother used to play with a soca band here.
In his music he was influenced more by reggae - from the likes of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Flame - than calypso.
His musical career actually began eight years ago when working with a construction company; he met a young man called `Preze' and the two, as a duo called 'High Energy' recorded the song Ring Bang Party. The duo then became a trio and they moved to Caribbean Sound Basin where Militant still works. This new group recorded Jump like you Crazy.
Later another group which produced the CD Pitch Black included two songs by Preze and Militant, a jouvert song Wine and Go Down and a political commentary, Dem Politicians Lie.
After this group split, Militant was the only one who pursued a musical career. In 2000, Hot and Groovy was the break he had been looking for. Now with Passions on the rise he is making more music at Caribbean Sound Basin and is looking to future hits.