Rhea Layne doesn’t mind the comparison to her famous sister singer Shontelle Layne. But she is determined to forge her own path.
The former student of Harrison College and final year law student at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, was born into a musical family.
“My mum Beverly Layne is well known in music circles, as is my aunt Kim Derrick and of course my sister Shontelle.
“I have always been on stage – acting in a couple of plays and a member of Dancin’ Africa from age six.”
Rhea wants to go into family law or entertainment – she hasn’t made up her mind yet: “I care about people . . . I have a big heart,” she said. “If I go entertainment law it’s to help in music industry in terms of the business aspects and contracts . . . stuff like that.”
Rhea got her big break on stage in 2013 as part of the Honey Jam showcase at the Frank Collymore Hall.
“I went to the audition really nervous. I wasn’t really prepared . . . It was at a weird time in my life. But I went and my voice wasn’t at its best but I said I will still try,” she told WEEKEND BUZZ.
A call while in class at UWI would change her life.
“I answered my phone in class whispering because you shouldn’t be on your phone. I saw this private number and I don’t usually answer them but I said ‘hello. Who is this?”
It was the producer Ebonnie Rowe asking if I wanted to be a part of the showcase.
“I was so happy I ran out the class to squeal loudly and dance around,” she said, laughing.
The night of the performance she did Sweet Thing by Chaka Khan, with a strong support from family backstage.
“I fell in love with Honey Jam. And it has catapulted my career. From there I was invited to do Love Poetry and Song. I even shared the stage at Cohobblopot with my sister Shontelle,” she said, adding that it was a nerve-wracking moment.
Rhea said even though those moments are special she has a way to go.
“I am only 20 years old. And I am still trying to figure out the tone of my voice and what suits me best.
“I think I have a nice, smooth tone but sometimes it can get husky. My personality is energetic and I like choreography and being energetic on stage.”
That is why she cites Beyonce as her idol. “She is everything I can see myself being. She is inspiring to females but still sexy and classy.”
Rhea can play a bit of piano and guitar and plans to take lessons in them to be fully proficient so she can use them when she performs on the big stage.
The songwriter who writes all her own music, has written for her sister and Bajan heart-throb Jaicko, and has worked with some artistes who have passed through Hit Island Studios. She has also done backing vocals.
Rhea has released two singles – Fly Away and Oh My Love, and said she gets inspiration “anytime, anywhere, wherever it comes. I write about my relationships, other people’s relationships,” she explained, adding that she writes with “melody first, then my lyrics, then my beat last.”
Asked who she would like to one day open on stage for she quickly said, “Beyonce first. I was so jealous when my sister opened for her. Then my sister, who is such an inspiration to me. I am so proud of her. And then Rihanna.”
Rhea, who loves R&B, has garnered her share of fans, who are her followers on Twitter and Facebook.
“Being in Barbados I wonder if my music has far reach. It’s nice when fans from overseas tweet me saying I love your music so much. And children come up to me in street and say I inspire them.”
Rhea said the going isn’t always smooth and she has gotten discouraged.
“Every day I say I quit and then I said no. It’s a back and forth with myself. But I have a circle of friends and my family around me who are very encouraging.
“They tell me keep working hard and they will not let me quit.”
She said she has been told to change who she is and try this and that but she has always stayed true to herself.
“There will be people who pull and tug you in different directions. But it’s your craft. Inspire yourself and breathe and it will happen. Just nurture your craft.”