When Cindy Smith got a call saying she had been chosen to sing overseas, she was so disbelieving she told the caller to “shut up!”.
But it was no prank; the call came from the organisers of Carifesta 2017, a Caribbean arts and culture festival in Barbados.
Ms Smith, the Wall Street Band and several other Bermudian performers will be taking part later this month.
“I’m so excited that my bags are already packed,” laughed Ms Smith.
The 40-year-old auditioned to sing with Carifesta several months ago at the Berkeley Institute.
“I sang Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin,” said Ms Smith. “The lady listening to the audition said ‘thank you very much’. I really didn’t expect much after that.”
Now she is looking forward to seeing how other artists work at Carifesta.
“Maybe I can broaden my horizons when it comes to reggae and soca,” she said. “I am a gospel artist mainly, and also sing some R&B.
“Soca and reggae intimidate me a bit because they are different, but I am looking to learning more about those styles.”
Ms Smith has always loved singing but shied away from the limelight for most of her life.
“I can remember being in the youth choir at St Philip AME Church,” she said. “They asked me to sing a solo and I was like I’m not doing all of that.
“At the time I would sing at home, but it was my sister Claireann Raynor, who would always go out and sing. I sang in the background in the choir.”
She said even now at church, when her praise team leader asks her to sing, she has to resist the urge to say no.
“I really started to put myself out there when I took part in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Dreamgirls, back in 2007,” she said.
A co-worker heard her singing at work and urged her to try out.
“I was given a role in the ensemble,” said Ms Smith. “Then the music director asked me to audition again this time for the role of Effie White. I just took the leap of faith and got the part.”
Today, she frequently sings with the Wall Street Band, but still gets a little nervous singing solos.
“It is scary being centre stage because everyone is looking at you,” she said. “Especially if you are doing songs that everyone knows. Once it’s over there is very much a sigh of relief from me. Then the compliments come in. Sometimes it is hard for me to take a compliment, but I am very appreciative that people like how I sound.”
She started her own band One Soulution in 2015.
“I was asked to put a band together for a couple who were getting married,” said Ms Smith. “The band they were going with pulled out at the last minute. I have a lot of friends who are musicians. I called them and told them the situation and they all stepped in. The wedding took place hours before Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 at Elbow Beach. I got them all together and they just stayed.”
The group practices every Wednesday for two hours.
“It doesn’t feel like a rehearsal,” said Ms Smith. “It is more fun than anything.”
One Soulution play frequently at private functions, and at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. However, in the past two months, the band has been pretty quiet, as many members, including Miss Smith performed with the America’s Cup Band 4-Forty-1.
For Ms Smith, music is not about money. She has a full-time job at AirServ Ltd.
“Music is something fun that I love to do,” she said. “And I get to work with my friends.”
Carifesta will be held in Barbados from August 17 to 27. To learn more about it, visit www.carifesta.net.
To watch Cindy Smith’s America’s Cup audition, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuAhXYrS4Bw