While the face of entertainer Ricardo Drue might still be fresh to the soca music lovers in T&T, by universal standards, he's an international act. Not only can the 26-year-old heartthrob sing and dance, but he rocks a unique dress code and does not lack in overall appeal, as women constantly remind him. Fourteen years have passed since Drue has been delighting audiences in the United States and the Caribbean with his island pop melodies (soca and R&B fusion).
But before Kees Dieffenthaller's breakthrough, local disc jockeys had worked to convince him (Drue) for well over a decade, that this was not the market for his fusion-styled sound. Using that music formula, however, Drue together with his band Crossfire, opened for platinum music acts such as Sean Kingston, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Jeffrey Osborne, Bow Wow and Soldier Boy in North America. These outings even earned him a chance to sweet talk sexy African-American actress Gabriel Union.
But when Sunday Vibe caught up with Drue-who by the way was managing a hectic Carnival schedule with leading music band Roy Cape All Stars-it came as quite a surprise when the newest frontline vocalist said this about his experience with the band of which he has been a member, over the past two months: "It's like schooling. There's a lot that I was doing wrong in the last four years. Now that I'm under someone like Dr Roy Cape, basically, I'm taking this season as being at school and learning the necessary things that I need to learn. Next year, will be a better year for me." Drue, it turns out, was reshaping his vocal techniques and stage presence to achieve greater command in both his appearance and sound, moving away from his otherwise sweet R&B-like strains, though, temporarily.
He said: "Juice Man (Carlyle Roberts) musical director of the band sat down with me and told me to take this year and learn what you have to learn, because there is going to come a time when someone would have to take the mantle. So, learn what I have to learn now, so if that time comes soon, I am already prepared for it. Drue added: "I am a sponge. I will sit down in the band room and I will pay attention to everything and I will do what it is I'm asked to do, if I know that I'm being pushed in the right direction."
Present adjustments to his vocal delivery and stage presence, it seems, coincides with his writing advances, too. Patrice Roberts of HD fame was a major influence in the latter area. That influence continued when Drue became a fixture with Imij & Co. Now under the Roy Cape banner, growth in his composing has not been stunted. By the way, if you hear him answering to the name 'short-man' it's okay. That's his nick-name within the Roy Cape family.
While many were uncomfortable with his decision to call it quits with Imij & Co and take up position with Roy Cape All Stars, Drue said, so far, Carnival 2012 has been good to him. He has three published singles for the season. They are Shawty, Wining Galore and Jam. Kerwin Du Bois wrote the latter. Powered by the Roy Cape brand he's in all the major Carnival events and did not know if he will eventually get to experience the thrill of playing mas in T&T, citing that the band might be on the road on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The picture painted by Drue on this occasion was far more inspiring than the tales he related two years ago, in a Sunday Guardian interview.
The young entertainer, back then, found himself in a compromising position having to grovel at the feet of Carnival fete promoters during the pre-Carnival time slot hoping to secure work. When that failed, he unashamedly offered to perform for free, but still, impresarios turned him down, even though he recorded a honey-laced number with Patrice Roberts titled Single To Mingle. Other musical treats in his arsenal were J'Ouvert Jam and Wining Specialist. Still, no one would hire him, despite his international exposure. But following an introduction between George Ng Wai, manager of Imij & Co and Drue, the talent scout signed the aspirant. That relationship lasted two years. Drue accepted another offer, just over two months ago.
Music: A blessing and a curse
Convinced that music could be both a blessing and a curse, Drue was, however, relieved that so far in his career the experience had been the former. In his mind, a musicians' approach would determine their rate of success of lack thereof. "Music could be a curse when musicians see that things aren't working out, but could not bring themselves to explore other avenues for earning, since playing music is all they could see themselves doing. "It's a blessing because I get to inspire people with my lyrics and performance. I get to show people what I can do and let people feel what I'm feeling."
A ladies man
It's official. Women can't get enough of Drue. But he wants the public to believe that taking things in stride was the unqualified method he used when dealing with the avalanche of affectionate gestures from the opposite sex. "I enjoy it as an artiste. It's another thing that most artistes go into the business for. Even though there's the love for the music, a lot of artistes love the attention. I really enjoy the attention, but try and keep it at that, just social. When young or mature women make advances to artistes like me and we are too friendly it comes across as more than, hey! How are you doing? It becomes something that suggests you're into me."
Drue does not boast of having a lot of girlfriends, neither does he engage in the practice of kissing and telling. He went on to make it clear that he had no problems winning hearts. "I'm the type to have a two-year, three-year relationship at a time. I haven't had a lot, though. day work-out regime–were designed to cast aside his smooth persona and give him "an edge." It was done on the urging of a mentor who felt that for Drue, it was necessary to take his music seriously on his journey to being a professional.
That decision was a careful one. Drue wanted his body art to be a sign of significance. Well rounded, loving and kind, were the words Drue used to describe himself. While he enjoyed entertaining, he only wanted to steal the show when he's centre-stage as opposed to being with friends. But no matter how hard he tried, Drue still has not been able to shake the opinion of those who know him the least, but testified that he was a snub.
Those closest to him, declared, however, that away from the spotlight, he was quite an introvert. "It's the furthest thing from the truth. My facial expression does not accurately communicate my feelings. My brain is always going. I'm always trying to create. It's not that I don't want to be around people. I'm a reserved individual, but anybody that wants to come over and say hello, don't be afraid," he said.
He's the son of leading local female television and radio presenter Nicola Barriteau. His father is Mervyn Eric Drue Jr. Drue (Ricardo) was born in Antigua and Barbuda. When he came home to T&T, he was two months old. A past pupil of San Fernando Boys' Government School and St Madeleine Secondary School, Drue migrated to Miami and lived with his grandfather Mervyn Eric Drue, until his passing. He then took up residence with his father. US educators gave him tops marks for the academic abilities as provided through T&T's education system. This made it easy for him to enroll at a Miami-based high school. There, he went on to study paralegal law for two years and was certified.
He comes from a musical family, too. He remembers hearing his mother singing on local television, as well as his uncle, Harold Barriteau. This self-taught musician declared that the piano was his instrument of choice. He said it was his innate ability to compose that led him to eventually adopt this instrument almost 12 years ago.