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Take Courage [Band]!: Nassau Guardian, 12 October 2004
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Posted by:Oct 13th 2004, 11:46:44 am
Fig Tree News TeamTake Courage!

Band wants to provide music world is seeking

BY VANESSA C. ROLLE,Guardian Staff Reporter

There is something deep and indomitable that oozes from the music of the Courage Band - something that creeps into the senses, filling them with the sensuality and consciousness of life.

Their album, Vitamin C, shows no mercy to listeners, as it cajoles and drums eccentric rhythms and beats into every ear that would hear. It is music that sticks and stays. Music that heals the woes of the heart and mind.

It brings to life a unique form of urban music that permeates a side of your humanity that you need to find. But you'll never find it until you get your dose of Vitamin C.

Described as producers of "urban island" music, the Courage Band meshes rhythm and blues with pop rock, salsa, Hip Hop, Junkanoo, Soca, and reggae to create a sound unique only to them.

Their new album, Hustle, will hit stores sooner than you can blink, and in it there is something for every musical palate with good taste. Three of the songs on the upcoming CD were written by famed reggae icon Beres Hammond.

The Courage Band will also be releasing the title track Keep Hustlin', from Breakaway Films' "Bahama Hustle" which was filmed in Harbour Island and Fort Lauderdale. The band followed the movie shoot with their first South Florida Concert appearance, opening for Hammond and Marcia Griffiths in West Palm Beach in August of last year.

The Bahama Hustle stars Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and will be released in November.

Maverick Films' movie, The Hustle, is another movie in which they were featured, and is already on the market on DVD at Blockbuster video.

Formed in 1985 by bandleader Dwight Stewart in Harbour Island, the Courage Band: Stewart, Chang Imlach, Dannard Anderson, and Jammie Cartwright, are unofficial Bahamian ambassadors of music, taking their rich eclectic sound beyond Bahamian borders to the marketplace of the world.

The group entertained almost 80,000 football fans at a Dolphins' half-time show last November, and had a full week of television appearances and prime time radio interviews in Miami leading up to the event.

Stewart, who is also the bass guitarist and vocalist, said, "Bahamian music has a lot of power to it. If you're crippled or blind, once you hear that Junkanoo music, you're gonna move to it. When we did the show at the Dolphins' stadium we were backed up by 200 Junkanoo troops. We felt proud being a Bahamian and being able to do things that we put our minds to doing and see it come to pass. We look forward to doing more stuff like that and I hope that more musicians from The Bahamas have the same opportunities."

The Courage Band was also nominated for a music award in Hawaii - a country that only promotes Hawaiian music. The band was the only foreign band that got nominated for any award in that country. Further, they also opened for other international musicians such as Mint Condition, Sheila E, and they also played for a Bob Marley benefit held in Iowa.

According to Stewart, the band was formed in 1984 at a local fashion/talent show in Harbour Island. "They asked for a few musicians to come up and me and my friends were there and the hostess said 'Oh it takes courage for these guys to come up here,' and that is how the name came about," he said.

Trepidation surely has no place within the Courage Band, who, although hailing from the small jewel among the islands of The Bahamas, seems to be the diamond in the rock.

Chang, who is also a model, was inspired by his father - a "brilliant" musician, the late Charles "Charley" Imlach, who played with famed Bahamian musicians such as Count Bernadino, Ronnie Butler, and even Freddie Munnings Sr at the old Cat and Fiddle Night Club. Chang could easily be considered a musical prodigy himself having written four of the group's songs, and played every instrument on some tracks as well; and his singing voice can be summed up in one word: sexy. In fact, the entire group is multi-talented and writes songs.

Anderson, the energetic component of the band, began singing in a church choir, played the trumpet in the school band and began playing the drums under the guidance of Joseph "Rocky" Saunders and Sam Higgs.

And Jammie's voice says it all, for he is the singer and chatter for the group's reggae mixes. And in my personal favourite song by the band, Why, Jammie's voice, mingled with Imlach's words and mastery of all instrumentation, takes you to a romantic place where only hearts and souls abide. I love it.

"We have a lot to offer as a nation because our sound is so unique. But you have to be a chameleon," said Chang in an interview with Stewart at the Seagrapes Nightclub in Harbour Island. As a painter and owner of his own communications business on that island, Chang said however that, "The Bahamas needs to develop something called a music industry, where the musicians can make enough money not to have two side jobs in order to play. I am not knocking the DJs but if the DJs don't listen to Bahamian music themselves, then how do they expect the Bahamian public to latch on to what Bahamian music is."

He said that Bahamian music is being defined by such small parameters as Junkanoo, Soca and Rake n' Scrape.

"As long as you're Bahamian, it's Bahamian music. But the Bahamian mind as an individual, and as a musician is so vast that you can't just think on one level and say just because I want to be indigenous to The Bahamas and be a Bahamian that I only want to play Soca or Junkanoo. It may be in my spirit to do hip hop or rap or something like that. If you take a note from BAHA MEN, their number one song that put The Bahamas on the map had nothing to do with Junkanoo. You have to look at that as the industry and incorporate music; and of course I respect what the Bahamian indigenous music is, but times change and people change and the market changes," said Chang.

"You might go a lot of places and take a lot of pictures at the end of the day, but that will be all that you have. I don't want to count my money. I want to weigh it," he said.

He said that if the Bahamas does not move with the times in the music industry it will fall behind, and there will be a plethora of musicians with great potential who don't tap into the world market. He said that Bahamians need to stop looking at Bahamian products as inferior, whereas what may be Bahamian may be of better value but cost less. Further, he noted, Bahamian music needs more protection by legislation and not exploited by musical pirates.

"Just how Jamaica enhanced reggae and marketed that, now everybody is into that. Sure, Junkanoo and those other things will take off, but they need help from other styles in order to get people interested because the whole world right now is looking for new music. We have a lot to offer as a nation because our sound is unique," he said.

Chang attributes the opportunities afforded the group to a higher power, not taking the glory for the tremendous wealth of talent that, without a doubt, exists.

"It all comes down to making sure that God is first in your life too. Because in all things you do, whatever you call God, whatever your perception of the Great Creator is, it has be in front of whatever you do because it ain't gonna last and it will fall - as quick as you shut up, it's dead. There has to be some message and something in it that people can grab on to and relate to," he said.

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