Tue | Nov 21, 2017

Tears at writing, applause at performance

Published:Sunday | October 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Influential (left) and Ras Takura perform at Seh Sup’m at Village Blues Bar.

Although Influential started writing the lyrics of Cancer in his mind while his mother was still alive, most of the song came after she had been buried. It was not, however, the easiest song to commit to paper.

The progress was halted by his tears.

Influential was given the rhythm by Spawn D, who had got it from manager Sonny Spoon, who, in turn, had received it from another producer.

"Writing the song was ... mi nuh know," Influential said. "Eyewater jus' a run, tears jus' a wet the leaf. Even my little daughter seh, 'Daddy, every time you write that song you cry'. She always don't want me to write that song. She say, 'Every time you start it you cry'." He was alone with the then seven-year-old (now eight) a lot of the time as her mother was not in Jamaica.

The recording process, at Wong Studio in Portmore, St Catherine, was relatively easy Cancer was completed in about two hours. No tears came then.

There have been many cheers for the song at Influential's performances. He remembers one in particular in Mandeville, where he performed after the in-form I-Octane, who naturally had the audience in a frenzy.

"Him really heat up the place," Influential said. Coming on stage after him was a daunting task, but my manager say, 'Gwaan! Me believe in you.'

Influential said: "I went on stage and just be meself. The entire focus was to know it is a mission. The people receive it well." While he was performing Cancer, "about five people walk up just to shake my hand in the middle of my performance when I was singing the cancer song. Them walk up to the stage, and me just have to bend down and shake them hand".

"Who to tell? They could be people in a similar position," he said.

Influential says that he has received calls "from all over the world" about Cancer. "Is one of those songs that not hype, but it have a message," he said.

Influential has been in music professionally for five years and played the guitar, drum and keyboard in church. However, long before, he says: "Me born come see my father a play this little banjo. Him like the mento sound. The whole community know him for this banjo. Him say in his days, him used to go dance quadrille. Him say people would come up to him and buy him anything."

 

LEARNT BY WATCHING

 

However, Influential says: "Him never really teach me how to play the banjo, but when me a little youth - six, seven, eight - me just sit down and watch him."

When his father was not around, Influential would go and practise, so when his father eventually heard him playing, he marvelled and asked who had taught him.

He says that while his father made up many songs - including when there was friction in the home and it was used as a stress reliever - "is a man who never go studio yet".

Now, the banjo is still in the district of Bath in Maidstone, Manchester, at the place where Lloyd and Edith Powell are buried, which Influential has not been able to bring himself to visit since his mother's funeral.

"Is something in mi mek me can't even go all now," he said.

- M.C.