The International Costa Maya Festival is pleased to announce the participation of Belizean artist Tanya Carter at this year’s festival. Tanya is set to perform live on Saturday, August 3, 2013
“I realized from an early age that this is what I want to do. Music was all I wanted to do” … these are the words of three-time Belizean Female Vocalist of the Year, Tanya Carter, who by the age of 5 was already listening to Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, Earth, Wind and Fire, Bob Marley, Tina Marie and Roberta Flack. Coming from a musical family, where her great-grandmother, grand-mother, mother and father were involved with music in some way, Tanya’s love for music came almost naturally.
Although, she was too young to be part of the choir at Grace Primary, her superb voice earned her a spot at just 4 years old: “I had it pretty easy, at Grace you did arts all day. They put me in the choir at about four years old because I had a strong voice and I just knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life”.
The songstress went on to the Edward P. High School where she joined the choir and was introduced to classic and operatic singing. Despite, these influences Tanya was determined that she would become a Reggae singer: “At that time Reggae was bad boy music and it wasn’t really accepted and that is what I wanted to do no matter what anyone said to me”.
At 18 she recorded and released her first song ‘I Wanna Get to Know You Better’, which was a Dancehall/Reggae fusion and she was surprised that it became a hit: “When you write songs that are so true, songs about life…people appreciate that”. Despite the success of her first single, Tanya was hit with a harsh reality and had to make a hard decision: “I got some backlash for choosing this genre [Reggae] and a lot of people were telling me that I sound like Whitney Houston and they wanted me to be the next Whitney; and I could make way more money doing that. But there’s no fun in that. I wanted to be like Dennis Brown. Why sing something you’re heart isn’t into?”
Choosing to start her professional career at 18, Tanya quickly found a way to deal with producers who would not take her seriously: “I may come off as aggressive or brash, but I just go in there and let them know I am a strong female, serious about music. You have to have a tough skin in order to survive and not run out of this male-dominated industry”.
After just a year into her career she decided she wanted to assist in the production of her own songs, “I had a particular sound that I wanted and I wasn’t getting it. I didn’t appreciate some of the work done by producers in Belize, so I would give them music sheets and explain to them the sound I wanted”. Tanya became involved in the whole music-making process in order to ensure that what she wanted to express was coming out through her music.
At 20 years old, Tanya became the youngest artiste to win the Lord Rhaburn Outstanding Artiste award at the Lord Rhaburn Jazz Festival, “I was so happy to get that award. Lord Rhaburn is a Calypso King he’s a legend in Belize and I had been singing in his shows for a long time. I was the youngest on the show and I just felt like I was saying to the world, well to Belize, but I felt like it was the world, that I have arrived. I felt so good. Nobody that young had ever received the award”, she says, unable to contain her excitement and appreciation 9 years later.
Opening for international acts at home and abroad became a regular for the Belizean national, who has opened for Etana, Lexxus, Luciano, Morgan Heritage, Shyne and Omarion and has headlined Belizean Concerts in Utah, New York, and California. Tanya also found the time to showcase her versatility elsewhere, guest starring in Belize’s popular local series “No Matta Wat” and stunned audiences with her acting prowess. She was then invited back and given a permanent role.
Between 2010 and 2011 Tanya managed to release her debut album; write, produce and sing one of Belize’s biggest hits; receive regular rotation in the Caribbean, Los Angeles, Africa, Mexico and Lithuania; and win the Best Female Vocalist of the Year award. “This was the best time of my life. I had a lot to prove to a lot of people”.
The artiste had hit a bump in the road after political issues forced her out of the spotlight for some time. However, she was invited to enter into a competition with some of Belize’s great song writers, “everyone was given a genre and I was ecstatic I got Reggae, but then all of a sudden everybody wanted to do a Reggae song. So, I said okay let me do Soca then. It was my first time doing Soca”. She blew the competition out of the water and won the contest. The song “I am Belize” became the national song and she travelled around the island for six months performing the hit song.
“This was the beginning of knowing that Tanya wasn’t just an artiste or singer, but a song writer. This sparked national foundations coming to me for songs and jingles, even the first lady requested a song. It was a very good time for me”.
However, Tanya has opened a new chapter as she seeks to focus on Reggae and break into the Reggae music market. She has journeyed to Jamaica to work with renowned producer, Christopher Birch, with whom she has recorded and released her newest single “Ex-Boyfriend” – which is already receiving air play across the island. “I decided to come to Jamaica because that’s where it [reggae] all started. I came here to explore Reggae and what it’s all about”. But she is determined that her music retains its originality, “I want to focus mainly on Reggae and Dancehall right now and I want to stay true to me. I want it to be authentic. There must be a bit of Tanya and a bit of Belize in my music.”
Her plans for the next few years?
“I want to get into the Jamaican crowd. I want to do a good job here first and then the Caribbean, then Europe and the United States. I feel you have to lay your roots in the Caribbean first. If you make a good splash in the Caribbean then it will pick up elsewhere”.
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