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Canadian band makes Caribbean connection - Hart of a Trini
Like breathing, music is vital to Canadian-born Tobago-bred singer/songwriter, Caleb Hart, aka Bravehart, the 23-year-old founder and lead vocalist of North-American roots reggae band Tasman Jude.
On a brief visit to his former homeland, he told the T&T Guardian he’s been in love with singing for as long as he could remember.
Retracing his steps, he said: “I have been on the stage with a mic in my hand since I was four years old.”
Those tender years spent at church with his family growing up in Tobago were what he described as a blessing, because the opportunity to do music was always there. He would eventually write his first song, titled Angel, at the age of 12, which is actually one of his band’s current singles.
But Hart’s biggest break came when he met Canada’s first double Grammy hip-hop nominee and winner of over 80 international musical awards, Robert Fresh IE Wilson, in 2012.
The two became acquainted and Hart was featured on Wilson’s tenth anniversary of his first Grammy-nominated album, Red Letterz, which gained two gospel music awards in Canada in November 2013. He also became a member of Wilson’s outreach movement, the Kingdom Music Family (KMF),
“When I met Fresh what I admired most about him was his humility and real love for people,” Hart said.
“All he cares about is using his music to inspire young people and artists to reach their full potential. He spends his time going from school to school and community to community across Canada just spreading love and hope.
“I hope to set up a tour with him and us through the schools of T&T, it’s one of my life goals. T&T needs someone like Fresh IE, who doesn’t care about fame and money, but about the people.”
To achieve this, Hart has been in talks since last year with the Department of Youth Affairs on the possibility of holding some motivational sessions with s schools this month.
Success of Tasman Jude
Tasman Jude is actually the middle name of Hart’s bandmate Al Peterson, whom Hart met when he returned to Canada in 2009. The names, Hart said, have significant meanings. Tasman means “of great faith,” while Jude means “he who is praised.”
Hart said the band started almost by accident.
“Al and I took part at in an open-mic session at Howlers Lounge at the Grande Prairie Regional College. We did not even prepare any songs. It was quite impromptu actually.
“We managed to get through three songs and the audience response was overwhelming, people started asking us where they could sample our music and so I wasted no time in creating a Facebook page,” explained Hart.
Within three days the page grew to over 100 fans.
Since the official formation of the band on January 17, 2013, Tasman Jude has toured most of Canada.
Later this month it will venture outside of Canada for the first time to perform at the All Ages Australia Music Festival, a venture fully funded by their fans.
“They (fans) are truly our family. Just the way family supports and stick it out through thick and thin, they have … so we call them our family,” Hart said.
But no matter where music takes the band, Hart makes sure he is always representing for the Caribbean. In fact, if you visit Tasman Jude’s YouTube channel (www.noisetrade.com/tasmanjude) you will hear the words Trinidad and Tobago mentioned in almost every song.
“When I’m on stage, 50 per cent of what I sing and talk about is T&T. From stories of my childhood to the delicious food, rich culture and beautiful beaches. It makes Canadians want to visit,” he said.
Hart also spent time as a youth in St Vincent and the Grenadines, on the island of Canouan, so he jokes about being a Caribbean boy to his heart.
Every song you will ever hear from Tasman Jude is original, written by the band, and all incite a sort of feel-good vibe, with lyrics that speak to social ills and about life generally.
Whether they experiment with genres such as rock, funk, ska, rap, pop, soca or Latin, one thing is constant: their message is positive and uplifting.
“Our music is about dealing with reality, speaking the truth and spreading love,” Hart explained.
Evidence of this can be found in songs like Opposites Attract, Take You Away, MaMa and Family.
With their music receiving airplay in Canada, USA, Australia, the UK and in T&T, Tasman Jude has also won songwriting awards from Free FM in the US and Alberta Music in Canada.
For the single, Family, they also picked up the Akademia Award (based in Beverly Hills, California) for best reggae song in February last year.
Their success continued when they debuted at number two on iTunes reggae charts on April 9, 2013, for their debut album El Norteño, which was released online.
The album also climbed the Canadian reggae charts on ReverbNation, standing at number one for over six weeks.
And toward the end of last year, they also secured a video grant from Public Records & Telus for their song Take You Away.
To date, the band has collaborated with award-winning Canadian bands/artists such as Earl Pereira of the Steadies and is currently working on a “collab” EP that will be released for free download on the band’s Noise Trade account online.
They are also planning an eastern Canadian tour where they are billed to perform alongside reggae acts such as Beenie Man, Raging Fyah, the legendary Third World band and others.
It is Hart’s hope that the band will do more collaborations with Caribbean bands and artists to keep the Caribbean connection alive.
“Caribbean music is the sweetest kind of music you can find anywhere. It does something for people.
“I don’t know if it’s the instruments used or the stories told through the songs, but wherever you go people appreciate that music and I am living proof that they do,” said Hart.
“We have something so beautiful, it’s amazing. If you listen to what they call world beats in North America or a World Cup song it’s really our average soca beat,” he was quoted as saying in a previous interview.
Hart has hopes of working with local artistes such as Bunji Garlin, Isaac Blackman, Russell Leonce and, from Tobago, Keylon Whitlock & Positive.
As for his future plans for the band, there is no huge wish list for Hart. He believes every step the band takes will be ordered by the most high, therefore the sky is not the limit.
“Our future plans are simple,” he said. “Spread love through good music, everywhere that we go.”