Ahh Skinny Banton. He was a bit of a surprise to me during his interview. The Jab Jab President. There’s something about him, a deep inner calm when talking to him. A softly spoken seeming conscious man. Which was not what I was expecting at all from the guy who sings ‘Soak it Good’ and ‘Front Wet’ . I know of his other songs but those two are foremost on my mind when I think of this artist presently.
Skinny Banton (Shirlan George) was born in Trinidad but lives from Carriacou, Grenada. He has been singing from an early age and has supported artists such as Richie Spice, I-Sasha, Prophet Benjamin and Bunji Garlin. He was crowned Carriacou’s People’s Choice Soca Monarch King in 2011 with ‘We Ready’ and he remained the soca monarch for the subsequent two years. He reached the semi-finals of International Power Soca Monarch in Trinidad in 2015 with ‘Soak it Good’. He is popular world wide and is always received warmly by his audience. My particular favourite Skinny Banton tunes include ‘One Family,’ ‘Ready to Chip’ and ‘Life Time Tabanka’. I managed to grab a quick five minutes with him just prior to his performance
Welcome to London Skinny. What do you think of your fans here in London? I always feel the love from people for good music. People from London appreciate my music .
What makes Skinny Banton’s sound’? Well it’s all about creativity. Creativity is one of the main things. Creativity with humour and positivity. If you have to think about Sparrow’s music for example. You get humour, you get reality. There’s education in the songs as well.. Skinny Banton sings one of Sparrow’s lyrics ‘Children go to school and learn well..’ We have to remember the foundation of our music. So I always try to stick to the roots of what it’s meant to be. Suitable for children, for adults, for elders. Humour, upliftment and development purposes. At the end of the day, we were seen as the future. Now we are the future so it’s up to us now to create a future in music for those after us. A chain reaction you know? From generation to generation.
Do you always have a plan when you go on stage? Well some times I just go on stage and whatever comes out comes out. Other times we have a plan. Depends on the environment and the people.
What has been your proudest moment so far? Well I’ve been making a lot of moves from time to time. I started signing calypso from an early age so the fact I’ve grown in music, I’ve had a lot of proud moments. But I think there is a lot more to come so I don’t really celebrate things that have past. I am happy that they happened but I have been putting in the work and there is a lot more work to do so I feel that there will be a lot more to come. I’ve achieved soca road march and soca monarch but for me there is a lot more to do so there is a lot more proud moments to come.
What motivates you to keep doing this work? Well most of the time it’s just the joy of the people. Cause when you go to an event, you want to know that your audience will have fun with your moment and time on stage. And if you can write something that will make them joyful in that moment, they will give you that love and appreciation. So when they embrace you and your music, you not just feeling happy to be there, it’s a joy.
What’s next for you? Well what’s next for me is all about Carriacou carnival 2017. We want to take Carriacou carnival to another level where our tourism and marketing strategy where more people can appreciate and come to our carnival. We have culture on our island that not all islands in the Caribbean share and when you trace back the history we are deeply rooted and grounded. People need to come and understand. We have many festivals and can trace the origins of jab. You have to come to the island and feel our ancestors history and what they have left for us to practice.
Are you the ambassador for Carriacou? Well I wouldn’t say that as yet but we are putting in the work and hoping that one day it will happen. It’s not my choice, it’s up to the people to decide whether I am qualified or not.
Skinny Banton was performer who perhaps most moved the crowd at the Grenada Independence dance in my opinion. This softly spoken guy who had the crowd in the palm of his hands. He told them to sing the lyrics, they responded. Skinny also looks beyond himself, reflects on what he can do for Carriacou and how best he can promote and bring prominence to traditions and culture of his chosen home. Looks like there is much more to him than just…. soaking.
For more information on Skinny Banton, please visit www.skinnybantonmusic.com, Skinny Banton on facebook and instagram, skinnybanton1 on twitter, Skinny Banton on soundcloud.