I got some Jamaican peeps. In fact, me used to pretend me was Jamaican.
Sistren like Krystle Smith and Tanya Menzies-Beckford dem woulda dun know me inna UWI, a few years aback. But duppy know who fe frighten; and so me coulda nevah bring mih fake Jamaican accent round some a de yardies pon Cave Hill Campus. Dem used to vex and call me “imitation cloth” or something so.
Eventually, I gave up the accent, shed the locks and emancipated my mind, after listening to Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. You see, not all and sundry can come across as charismatic and charming as Barack Obama when imitating a foreign accent.
Imagine if Obama was to come to Barbados, though? You think “wha gine on, soul?” would have curled so comfortably off his tongue? Bajan dialect, the native tongue on this island, is a bit more challenging to grasp.
Many have tried, but few succeed. You see, there are many variations of the Bajan vernacular. Linguists maintain that when there are more variations of an accent it more difficult to accurately imitate.
For example, I could never get Richard Hoad’s tongue. He truly masters the art of the drawl. In fact, put him and Cheryl King in any room together; and it automatically becomes the drawling room . . . . even the most mundane conversations sound sleepily sensuous!
Then there is Mr Sobers and his neighbours in St Philip. Philippians seem to have a tongue of their own. Whenever I go to sing at Sobers’ karaoke sessions in St Philip, I feel as if I’m in another country . . . the accent is even more pronounced when performing! But you want to hear Accent on-top-of accent? Talk to Philip Als at Courtesy Garage . . . . his accent sweet, sweet, sweet!
Accents aside, let’s talk about voices. Anyone heard our Minister of Commerce speak recently? Listen, I love to hear Donville Inniss speak, hear? Lots of substance to his discourse. But when he opened his mouth this week, what I heard was more musical than his sax.
A husky, Rod-Stewartish timbre, punctuated with some vernacular, but sounding spectacular. In fact, it made my cardiovascular system work a bit harder. Something was up. Maybe tonsillitis, the flu or sore throat.
I wish the minister much better, but I can’t say the change of voice wasn’t charming.
You see, some folks think you have to have “voice appeal” like Dennis J. or Carol Roberts. And yes, oh yes, their voices are perhaps as mellifluous as they come.
But sometimes, the roughest of voices can utter the sweetest incantations.
When you get a chance, take a listen to Mavado’s song Destiny. In case you don’t get to check out YouTube, I will tell you this much: the man doesn’t sing.
He talks singingly with music in the background. His voice is a conflicting combination of syrupy bitterness. Kinda like mauby. If you don’t’ get me, listen to him at the Digicel Reggae Beach Party this Sunday.
When you hear him, you will understand . . . overstand?
Veoma Ali is an author, broadcaster, advertising exec, and most important, a karaoke lover.