Tafina…walking in her mother’s footsteps ... at the same time, creating her own path
Tafina Wilson chuckled when she recalled the first time her mother, reggae vocalist Pam Hall, realised that she knew the lyrics to all her music.
“I was 15 years old when I told her I wanted to do backing vocals for her. It was for Reggae Sumfest in 2006, and even though sceptical of how well I knew her music, she invited me to rehearse,” Tafina said of the moment.
She added, “There I am, singing the harmonies as if it is nothing, then I started guiding the other backup singers, and my mother stops in awe. It was then that she saw the depth at which I knew the material word for word.”
Tafina, who spoke highly of her mother, said, “She is my number one inspiration, and every moment with her was a natural learning session in developing my vocal skills. My mother made sure that all kinds of genres, from classical and jazz to reggae, ska and even rock, were played in the house, and an environment was created in a way that it wasn’t forced on or for me to feel pressured.”
Still, Tafina’s commitment to music would not have been possible without the input of both her parents, including her father, Errol, who happens to be Hall’s manager and producer. “If anyone introduced and made me learn Pam Hall’s catalogue of music, it was my father. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, but he is credited for me knowing the music – from intro to the choruses and harmonies,” she explained.
She said that growing up, there were moments when she felt lost, but with so many “blueprints” of what music professionals had done before her, she was able to gradually learn and become inspired to take on the challenges ahead. She said, “It would be inaccurate for me to say I always knew recording music would be part of my career goals, but I was born in the musical sphere. In my house, it was so normal, I didn’t think of it as, ‘oh, I am going to be a singer.’”
Influenced by many other recording artistes and musicians including J.C. Lodge, Boris Gardiner, Marcia Griffiths, Sly Dunbar and Nadine Sutherland (with whom she has also performed on stage), Tafina said her solo career is a well-calculated decision.
As a child, she worked alongside J.C. Lodge in the ‘Sing N’ Learn Educational Music for Children’ programme that often aired on Television Jamaica. And after singing backup for over a decade, Tafina jumped on a track (at the time going by the name ‘Savone’) with long-time friend, recording artiste Blizzi, who happens to be the grandson of Grammy Award-winning Toots Hibbert. The single Good Time did not receive the anticipated number of views on YouTube, but for her, it was a great introduction to recording and promoting new music.
“I have decided that I want people to get to know the real Taf, and my name is a unique start. During that time, I was asked so many times why I had not put out original music, but I just wasn’t ready to step into the spotlight. The time has arrived to do so. It is now do or die,” she shared.
Her solo debut single, Tek Weh Miself, was made available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify earlier this month. The entire project was completed through the combined efforts of her parents, pianist Robbie Lyn, and guitarist Dwight Pinkney, with her vocals produced and mixed by Douglas Flanigan and Lynford ‘Fatta’ Marshall, respectively.
The umbrella sound of Tek Weh Miself is reggae with elements of dancehall, but the ad libs are resonant of an R&B track.
“I don’t describe myself simply as an artiste but a musical melting pot because I am influenced by a multitude of musicians and genres. So when people hear more music from me, it will be a fusion from a genuine place created on my own path.”
In a haunting echo of her mother’s advice to her, she concluded, “I am not in any rush. But at the same time, I believe in balance, and a little pressure is needed to help with growth.”