Praise today for one of the Soca industry’s most talked about female entertainers and business women, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez, this as she prepares to put on Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean’s most talked about Carnival event- the International Soca Monarch competition, on March 1st. The mother, wife and frontline vocalist turned ISM Chairperson, is being credited for her vision and strong feminine qualities by a fellow female vocalist in the Soca business, Leonce Taylor who says, what can often be coined over-aggression by females, is sometimes just what’s needed to create the change people need to see.
US based Taylor is the frontline vocalist of The Request Band- a band that tours the Carnival circuit across the 50 United States. Her Carnival 2019 single, “Whip It” has been doing tremendously well this season, something she says has been the highlight of het year thus far. “It’s really the first time that my music has been receiving this level of attention in Trinidad and while it may be small as compared to the love being received by other artistes in the arena, I am really thankful to the DJs and everyone else who’s been giving it the attention,” she said.
As one of a handful of female soca artistes, Leonce says a lot of work goes into her delivery and final product. “It’s one of the hardest things about being in the soca industry- being female. It really isn’t easy. Women have to work 20 times harder than men do to prove their worth as an artist and performer. Often time, it takes a lot of grit and fight to establish that you’re not a sex symbol but rather, a legitimate artist,” she said, adding that while it’s essential for female artistes’ image to be visibly appealing, it’s a battle to set boundaries when it comes to respect in the industry. Despite that however, Leonce says she wouldn’t trade her career for anything, highlighting that Soca music and her position in the US, as a frontline vocalist with The Request Band, has afforded her opportunities to travel to so many wonderful destinations, among them Grenada, St. Vincent and across the US.
With Carnival 2019 now climaxing, Leonce, having stayed in Trinidad for the better part of three months, has benefitted from the knowledge and advice shared by at least one of her female counterparts. Interactions with Nadia Batson during her stay in T&T, while brief, have certainly aided in her developmental mindset for the future. “Each time I met Nadia, she offered constructive criticism and advice and I truly appreciate that. She didn’t have to do that. She took the time to pay attention to me, and what I was presenting. She came through with the right words each time. That’s motivation enough,” said Taylor. She’s also met up with Destra, who, funny enough, she’s been compared to, time and time again. “Many people thought she was the person who sang, “Whip It”, she laughed, adding that she was honored to be compared to such an amazing vocalist and performer.
Leonce and her friend and stage partner, fellow Request Band front-liner, Rayzor are lapping up the vibe in Trinidad and Tobago, before heading back to the US. Rayzor is a finalist in the International Soca Monarch Competition. Leonce says she has seen the impact Fay Ann Lyons has had on the competitions’ execution, and finds it refreshing. “At the semis, everything worked like clockwork. It was professionally executed. For someone like me, who lives in the US, I’m accustomed to that kind of effort. She has made a major impact and that’s owed to her firm, no nonsense attitude. I give her credit,” she said.
The entertainer will return to T&T in 2020 and is looking forward to continued progression. “The challenges are plenty but I’m keeping a positive outlook on it all and my I know that with quality material and execution, the sky’s the limit.”