Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Unity at the Academy - Sounds, personalities blend at Digicel-funded workshop

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Machel Montano

Last year, approximately 300 submissions to the Digicel Music Academy from producers, songwriters and singers were narrowed to three of each and taken to Geejam Studios in Portland from December 19-22 for a free all-inclusive workshop, courtesy of Digicel.

International soca star Machel Montana was mentor to the performers, Barbados-born singer-songwriter Shontelle Layne, who sang the R&B hit

T-Shirt and wrote the Alison Hinds hit Roll, guided the pens. Deputy, who produced hit records like Rihanna's B***h Better Have My Money, mentored the producers.

"It wasn't really about the genre but it was about, sometimes, their work ethic, or how to find that creative space so everyone can be their own unique, individual self. It was about showing them to add that star factor - how to become more serious about what you're doing," Montana said. "The genre of music, to me, was the sound of the Caribbean."

He believes all that's left is harvesting the talent.

"It was about the process by which they go about creating the music and thinking of themselves as moving from doing this as a hobby to being a professional or a superstar with a career of longevity. This is what my inspiration was, because I can only inspire them from the things that I have learnt coming up." Machel told The Gleaner.




"We had three recording studios. We would put them in different groups every day and switch dem halfway through the day, and let them go back the next day and finish what they did the other day. So we had a simple structure," Machel explained. At the end of the day, they would get together to critique the work produced and the mentors would offer advice for improvement. The following day, the gauntlet began again, with the teams rearranged to work a brand new project. In the end, the mentees produced about 15 songs.

"These young people really taught me how to go past ego, unite and work together. Coming from being a hardened, seasoned entertainer, it's always about finding that success, that successful song, so there's always that level of pressure. These young people work without putting that pressure on themselves and I can see the creativity just spraying out," Machel concluded.