You've probably seen it somewhere on the Internet before - artists who paint to music. You may have also seen how captivated the audience was watching the artist transform a blank canvas into a work of art with music setting the tempo. To Romaine McNeil, this is not new. She has been fusing music and art long before she could even remember.
Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, she recalls drawing on walls outside her house and nearby buildings for hours at the tender age of 10. Neighbours, friends and relatives would gather to watch McNeil express herself through her art. It was during that same year that she discovered music and began playing the piano.
For McNeil, music and art had the ability to move her, to evoke powerful emotions while being an outlet from being bullied.
She recalls, "During high school, after being subjected to bullying, I turned to music.After listening, I'd feel better. One evening, I was listening to Tracy Chapman and I was compelled to start painting. The feeling was euphoric. From then on, my paintings had to be done to music."Her parents, seeing this natural ability, decided to invest in her formal training at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where she studied sculpture with an elective study in music.
McNeil confesses that although she learnt a lot at Edna Manley, she couldn't move away from her unique approach to her work and performed better at home, where she had the soothing melodies and harmony of music to inspire her art.
After attending Edna Manley, life took an interesting turn. She was introduced to members of the well-known reggae backing band, Gumption, who took her under their wings. She would stay for hours watching the group rehearse. It was here her interest in production started.
McNeil returned home to Westmoreland where she decided to sell her artwork in an effort to fund her music studio. Having sold over 200 pieces in three years to visitors and locals alike, her work was a hit but remained exclusive as most of her commissioned pieces were by referral. She raised enough money to buy the equipment for her studio; however, this was short-lived.
She began playing volleyball for the local club Viqueens, and quickly impressed the coaches from the National senior team with her performances and, before long, she made the national team. Throughout the rigorous training, she still found time for her art, showcasing works at the Young Professional's exhibition at the Pegasus Gallery in 2006.
McNeil's work is mostly abstract and pays tribute to musical instruments such as the violin and the acoustic guitar, which represents the woman's body in her work.
She still resides in Westmoreland, where she has
shifted her focus to music production in her small studio. She is
currently a part of the Myestroentertainment Company, where she works as
a music arranger, songwriter and