Talent before image - Queen Ifrica gives female artistes priority advice
Speaking at the medical sciences complex University of the West Indies (UWI), last Tuesday during a Reggae Talk organised by the Department of Literatures in English, reggae artiste Queen Ifrica had advice for female performers.
Ifrica remarked that while it is said that women are not equal in reggae, a lot of women hide behind that as justification to not work hard.
"Whatever you do, man or woman, it takes dedication, it takes work," Ifrica said.
"A lot of females I see prefer to take the route of image," Ifrica said, summing up their attitude as "Image is everything, talent will come along". However, she advised, "It has to be a package."
And she has had experience of image even before considering being a reggae artiste.
"I remember growing up and going through a community and being labelled the ugliest girl in the world, simply because I had a flat nose and thick lips," Ifrica said. The comments went as far as Ifrica's (then simply a child named Ventrice Morgan) nose being compared to Flat Bridge over the Rio Grande in Bog Walk Gorge, St Catherine.
She recalled coming home from school and anticipating a particular group of persons, and, "as you break the corner, it start". However, a smiling Ifrica said, "I never feel any way about it. I was okay with it, to the point that it was people not being themselves. I was just being me."
Even within Ifrica's family, her aunts preferred Indian men, so her cousins had what is commonly called 'pretty hair', unlike Queen Ifrica's hair texture.
"I was the mock of not only the family but the community by extension," Ifrica said.
However, she said, "I have a grandfather I love so much. He would always come to me and say 'you a de gal fi de money'."
And it is from these circumstances, Ifrica said, that her passion for dealing with people who have low self-esteem comes from.
"If you listen to my music, I say love of self is the greatest, greatest thing," Ifrica said.
Crediting Tony Rebel (who was in the audience) as her mentor, Ifrica described her entry into a music business she had no intention of getting involved in. On the night she met Rebel, Ifrica was supposed to go to Sting, but ended up going to a concert for Garnet Silk in John's Hall.
As was customary, when they went to live-performance events, Ifrica's friends put her name down to perform.
Usually she avoided doing so, but this time around, it was for Garnet Silk and "before I knew it I was on stage singing Silk. I love Silk so much".
When she came off the stage "a brethren said Tony Rebel want to see you".
She went with him, and when they got near to where Rebel was, and the man said he had someone to meet the deejay, he replied without seeing her that "the only person I want to meet is the girl who was on stage".
Rebel told Ifrica that she sounded like Garnet Silk, and, Ifrica said, "I felt good in myself. I went home beaming. I had a reason to not let go now. I was 'wow, Tony Rebel say me sound like Garnet Silk.'"
"My real music journey started there," Ifrica said.