“Longevity is not about a hit; longevity is about the act of putting out something with substance and then you don’t need to say much after.”
So said soca stalwart Shurwayne Winchester to thousands of eager fans logged on to his live virtual concert stream on Sunday.
The two-time Road March winner reassembled his Y.O.U band to put on an entertaining showcase that featured his title winners: “D Band Coming” (2004) and “Dead or Alive” (2005). He also performed his International Soca Monarch Groovy winners “Don’t Stop” (2006), “Carnival Please Stay” (2008) and “Murdah” (2010) and power winner “Ah Cyah Wait” (2006).
Winchester shone brightest, however, when he slowed the tempo right down to deliver his first hit “Get out My Dreams”. The former Traffik lead singer climbed into a bed to recreate his iconic ISM performance from 2004. He followed up with stirring performances of “Alequa”, “Wine On It” and “Make It Yours” – his hit collaboration with UK-born reggae star Maxi Priest (Max Elliott).
“Organic can best describe how things came together. Most musicians who depend on their craft to survive know the true impact of Covid on a different level. The idea was there to perform, but everything materialised after my Instagram Sunday show: Liming with Shurwayne,” Winchester told the Express on Tuesday during a WhatsApp exchange.
The causal exchange on the social media platform attracted thousands of viewers and so Winchester decided to team with WACK FM and Kenny Phillips to stage a full fledged virtual concert experience.
“At that point it was beyond obvious to me. It’s time to hit the stage and accomplish two goals. Perform for our fans and put some income on the table for my musicians. Our appearance on stage also answered the question: ‘does SW still have his band?’ That was answered with outstanding reviews after a two and a half-hour performance,” he beamed.
Virtual can be viable
Making a tangible connection with fans is crucial to the effective execution of a virtual concert, Winchester said. The interactive nature of soca music means artistes have to find ways to reach out and connect with fans similar to the transference of energy from performer to crowd in a live in-person show setting, he said.
“The virtual aspect was one that needed thought because our music is interactive and needs that element. It’s something we spoke a lot about in the band room,” Winchester revealed.
“Our performance was structured and geared towards projecting our energy to those viewing on any device. How? That ‘s our secret,” he added playfully.
The ongoing global pandemic has dried up multiple revenue streams for performers, Winchester lamented. However, he says the unique challenges of Covid have presented an opportunity for local acts to hone their talents for an attentive international market.
“At first it seemed hard, but the down time offered self-introspection, both from a personal and professional viewpoint. I have time to work on me and make changes in spending and sacrifices on things you really don’t use all that much because of how busy you normally would have been. As for the entertainer side, you would have seen a much sharper performer grace the stage on Sunday,” he said.
A level international playing field coupled with the increased “appetite for consumption” by stay-at-home audiences will make for an extremely successful virtual staging of this country’s Carnival in the coming weeks, Winchester predicted.
“My band and I have been adapting to this new environment and Shurwayne Winchester and YOU without a doubt stand ready for lights, camera and action.
“I do believe a virtual Carnival offers advantages. According to the angle utilised we can gain much mileage for the following year whenever the stage is reopened. The appetite for consumption as we know has changed, but the people are still hungry.
“Let’s offer what we have on the menu as they are viewing now and one signal can touch a million devices. We have to structure it, package it, advertise on the mediums available and air it to the world now consuming content more than ever before,” he said.
Winchester says he has done the work and promised fans more music in the coming weeks as he strategically plots his way through Carnival 2021 and beyond.
“The work continues for Carnival 2021. Tracks are ready, but my team and I are doing things correctly; correcting the errors I practised in the industry in the past is essential for the growth I wish to achieve. Soca lovers, we have it for you. Music lovers we have projects pending for you.
“The Iron Man, Feteboss, SW, Shurwayne Winchester is coming, stand ready,” he concluded confidently.