Craigy T lights torch for new passion
Musician and TV host by day, welder full-time
Lately, Craig ‘Craigy T’ Thompson, singer-songwriter, musician and record producer, can be found juggling several tools along with the usual microphone and music recording equipment. Behind a wall of privacy, he may be found hammering, bending and shaping steel or carrying a torch that literally ignites what was once a hidden passion.
“I have been praying for direction and guidance, and I [have] been hearing the same word resonating from a deep place for years. The word…welding, and every time mi just kiss mi teeth. ‘My yute, wah kinda welding yah talk bout, yah artiste’ was how I answered myself,” Craigy T shared with The Sunday Gleaner.
He made a name for himself, welding words and melodies together, being part of TOK, one of the most influential all-male dancehall groups to land multiple spots on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It’s no coincidence that Craigy T, as part of the quartet, sang and deejayed “the fire haffi bun, nuh matter how dem try fi hol’ di fire down, we keep it blazing”. It is the perfect description of his latest handiwork.
In full protective gear, the story unfolds, the popular singer, who is also the host of Television Jamaica’s Daytime Live, explained, “Setting up a label is one thing, establishing a music career is another thing but building a business that can run independently of yourself and that one can leave to his or her children requires a whole different level of fabrication.”
Craigy T is a HEART/NSTA Trust-certified welder. He told The Sunday Gleaner that one idle Wednesday, he made contact with the institution. “I called HEART to enrol in classes and start things off the right way, and the answer I received was not the most forthcoming. They said, ‘Mr Thompson, we are backlogged for the next two years, so I couldn’t get in. I responded in the most positive way by telling the representative to write down my name because I’ve been contemplating about it for a while. I was very interested and would really love the opportunity to become a student of the Welding Level II course. This was during the pandemic.”
The stars aligned in his favour as he received a call only a few days later (on the Friday of the same week) that school would start on Monday and that he should be present for class.
The troubadour knew he was moving in the right direction and soldiered through it.
“I welcome new challenges all the time, and I welcome new experiences all the time. I am alive to live, so I don’t question, especially when I receive direction through meditation or prayer or in that way. I am known to throw myself in difficult situations, and I guess in sink or swim situations. I usually swim very well. So, I did not just want to check a bredrin and learn how to hold a torch and place a welding rod. I wanted to learn the technique of metal fabrication, to do the full 100 or as much as I could do at least. Throughout the process, I also drifted towards construction and dabbled in a few renovations of apartments and stores, but it led me here, to the art where I do the metalwork as well as the woodwork,” he said. “I had ideas in my head that I needed to get out, and one of the first things I did after learning how to do my first T-joint was to look for things to weld. It was at a time when the world was topsy-turvy, and I found honesty in fabricating steel that I didn’t find dealing with people. It was rational. If you add this much heat here, this will happen, and this will always happen – it’s not like that with people.”
With this new skill, Signature Series by Craigy T, a brand that demonstrates the whimsical creative – his roots and his passion and commitment – in complex, welded entanglements of steel and wood, was born. Soon after completing the course, he rewarded himself with a work table, which he made, of course. The second was a “conversation piece” for his family home, a table he named ‘Cascade’, and then, with a once-rusty anchor which was discovered buried in his mother’s yard, he created another, as a gift to her. He has sold quite a few as well, including ‘Steeletto’, a table shaped like a sexy shoe, and ‘Emancipation: A Woman Freed’, the bending of the pieces of flat steel that were so intricately measured and shaped to match the curves of the fairer sex.
While reconnecting with his TOK brothers for upcoming projects, and working as a television host, Craigy T, who is also a father and husband (and martial artist), remains committed to a vision which sees him climbing ladders or scaffoldings to complete large, signature, sociocultural-themed metalworks in the National Stadium or the Jamaica Conference Centre. He is currently completing a piece for Tarrus Riley inspired by the reggae artiste’s Baby Blue single, released last July.
Only Craigy T knows how to make all the facets that make him uniquely who he is, work harmoniously as one.
“The ‘Emancipation’ piece is the first of a collection I want to exhibit in February of next year, even though someone has already claimed it. I’m working on that. After that is music because TOK is recording again, and we always had a business to run. I also have my family, my support system. Without them, this is not possible. I know next year is going to be demanding, and I’m going to have to figure out how to schedule that. It is a juggling; I know how to handle that. I don’t know how I do it – find balance – I try my best to use every hour of the day,” he said.