Alison Hinds, the proclaimed 'Queen of Soca'.
Avia Collinder, Outlook Writer
A hectic touring schedule takes her all over the Western world and away from family in Barbados, as she promotes her popular single Roll it Gyal, but soca singer Alison Hinds has mastered being mommy and wife from a distance.
Hinds, popular in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean for her live performances and ragamuffin style, says that a spouse who trusts her also makes her four-year-old marriage work.
The proclaimed 'Queen of Soca', who is to the genre what Celia Cruz was to Cuban salsa, is known for calling men to the stage for 'wining' competitions.
Her husband, Edward Walcott, manages the horse farm in Barbados, where the family resides. Daughter, Saharan, stays with him when Hinds goes on tour.
"When he (Edward) met me, this is what I was doing, he knew what he was getting himself into," Hinds states.
"He understands what it takes. He is always willing to be my support, my rock and my foundation. We have a lot of trust, communication and love. Trust for sure.
"If I bring someone on-stage to dance with me, he has no problem with that. I could not be with someone who that was a problem for. People approach me all the time. But he knows I know how to handle myself."
Born in England, Alison Hinds was taken to Barbados at age 11 where she flourished as a teen and made her name as a member of the soca band, Square One.
First hit in '96
Hinds produced her first hit, Ragamuffin, in the year 1996. It won the Party Monarch title, an achievement subsequently repeated with Twister.
Later, the Square One album, Full Bloom, featured another winner for Hinds - Faluma - which did well in the Caribbean and South America, topping the charts in Guatemala for 49 weeks.
Hinds is now back on the road after taking a break following the birth of her daughter on May 4, 2004.
Her current hit, Roll it Gyal, is being championed by Hot 97 (New York) and receives play on urban mix shows across the United States. Roll it Gyal was the hit of
carnivals in London, Brooklyn and Miami, last year.
We caught up with Hinds recently as she travelled in Connecticut, making her way to Hartford. She says, "I call home every day basically, wherever I am in the world.
"As with anything, it was not easy the first couple of times (to leave her young daughter and husband)," Hinds tells Outlook.
"I was bawling and I was a mess. I cried the first time and it upset Saharan because she saw me upset. Now, I have to make sure (that) whenever I am leaving I am smiling and so she understands that Mommy goes away on the plane and she comes back.
"From she was very young, I would tell her I would come back home. I have never hidden (what I do) from her. Now, sometimes I say, 'I miss you', and she says 'I know, I know, fine!'
"She is very good. I have video clipping of her on my phone; she is also on my wallpaper on my computer."
Hinds says she has good support from her mother and her in-laws. Saharan's grandparents, she says, play a very big part in her care.
The performer stays busy, especially as she now has her own band, 'The Alison Hinds Show', created in 2005 when Hinds returned to the soca scene with Roll It Gyal, which is an anthem for young women and encourages them to have pride in themselves.
The singer has been booked by her reps for a world tour across the U.S., Europe, Canada and the Caribbean.
Hinds comments, "The single, Roll it Gyal, is starting to do well in the U.S. They (music lovers) have been hearing and loving it. I am hoping to make the connection between the artiste and the song."
In the U.S., her appearances and interviews on radio and TV and in live performances will promote her debut solo album entitled Soca Queen - a 1720 Entertainment/Black Coral production - which will be released in July.
Her summer itinerary includes performances in Jamaica - most recently, the Byron Lee salute and next, Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest in July.
Hinds says, "I am really, really excited. I have never done it (Sumfest) before. I am very honoured to be on the line-up on the last night of the festival. All my guys and girls - dancers - are excited about being a part of the show.
Jamaicans are also excited about her. She replies, "I love Jamaica. The audience there has always been good to me from my days of Square One. I am looking forward to being there."
Looks forward to downtime
Later this year, Hinds is looking forward to some down time at home in Barbados where, she says, "I can really relax as a wife and a mother".
"I see my mom just about every day (in Barbados). My mother-in-law also holds family lunches and dinners."
She relaxes while on tour by reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Eric Jerome Dickey and other favourites.
"I love a good book that I can just wrap myself in," the performer says.
Her favourite place, apart from home, is the beach, which daughter Saharan also adores.
The support of family enables her to be at her best on-stage, wherever in the world she happens to be.
Husband, Edward, she says, is very supportive.
"He encourages me to do my best and to give my all. He wants to see me do my best and I do the same in return."