A heavenly voice set to perform at The Red Piano

Niquet Goldson was born to sing. Her voice, which first touched many in Jamaica, is now internationally known. After a couple of amazing shows in Sint Maarten, The Red Piano is happy to welcome Niquet and the Beat Lovers Unite (BLU) band back for their “BLU Live” show set for this evening, March 23.

Highlights of Niquet's career include singing on the internationally acclaimed stages with artists such as Judy Mowatt, Sherwin Gardner, Romain Virgo and Jah Cure. She is currently working on original music and performs both as a solo singer and harmony vocalist. You can be sure to expect a phenomenal show from this package of voice, beauty, intelligence and charm.

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Highgate, St. Mary, a rural town in the north-eastern section of Jamaica.

2. When and why did you start singing?

I started singing while in basic school. While singing our evening prayers, I noticed I was singing something different from what the other children were singing, but I had no idea what it was. Three years later, when I was seven years old, one of my teachers heard these evening prayers. She brought me to the music teacher and said, “I heard this child sing harmonies!” I had never heard about harmonies, but I learnt that day what I had been singing. Since that “harmony finding” experience, I found myself in singing groups in primary school, and high school in Kingston. I was in the school choir, ISCF choir and other singing groups everywhere!

3. What was an important turning point in your musical career?

The turning point came when I met a guy who was a musician. We started hanging out and he would take me to rehearsals with him. Eventually, some of the artists said, “Well since you’re here, you may as well sing!” So I sang on a couple shows with Tony Rebel and Queen Ifrica. This introduced me to the “music fraternity” in Jamaica, which led to me doing background vocals for a lot of gospel acts like Judith Gayle, DJ Nicholas, Carlene Davis and Judy Mowatt. I went to Trinidad for college where I did some work with Sherwin Gardner, Umi Marcano, Kimba Sorzano, Orlando Octave and Flippo. When I returned to Jamaica, I started working with Romain Virgo and Jah Cure. I travelled the world with the latter. I think being on the road with that group fuelled my love for travel as well.

4. Where do you draw your musical inspiration from?

My inspiration is literally from the music, any music. It lifts, encourages and soothes me. Being surrounded by music on stage, in a rehearsal is my happy place – my holy place.

5. When did you first visit Sint Maarten?

I came to Sint marten for the first time in 2011. The first thing I saw was how beautiful it was! The blues were very blue, everything was painted in sunshine. I loved it! I returned three years later and I loved it even more.

6. What can we expect from your show at the Red Piano?

My shows are almost always made up of songs that I love to sing, and that I want to share with my audience. That is the only way I can stand on a stage singing as a solo act! It’s a diverse mix ranging from reggae and pop, to R&B, rock and maybe even a soca song! Who knows? You will just have to come to the show and hear for yourself.

7. When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love going to the beach (or better yet a beach bar), having a lime with friends at home, reading a good book and occasionally binge watching random TV series.

8. What are some of your future plans?

Short-term plans include singing more, becoming an integral part of the music scene in Sint Maarten and the region, working on some material for the air/ear waves and giving the people some good music!

9. If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be, what would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

I’ve seen this question very often but I’ve never really considered my answers until this interview. These are the choices that came first to mind: I would invite Shawn from Boyz II Men, Idris Elba and Walshy Fire from Major Lazer. I would ask them all the same question: “Are you now whatever it was that you wanted to be when you grow up? I would serve my world famous ackee and saltfish with some friend dumplings (Johnny cakes) and that delicious Lychee martini with Grey Goose Vodka that is served at The Red Piano!

Singer Johana Arnold and her husband Kim Paterson will be performing at the Voice and Piano Classical Delight Concert at Belair Community Centre today Thursday, March 16, from 8:00pm. Arnold tells us more about her career and what patrons can expect from her and her hubby this evening.

Who is Johana Arnold?

I am a classically trained singer who’s interested in all kinds of music. I am also an actress (about to perform in Driving Miss Daisy) and an avid outdoor person who enjoys hiking and swimming. I am also a voice teacher and enjoy working with young people and older singers as well.

How would you describe yourself?

I was a very quiet child and I still like my peace and quiet. The other side of me loves to perform and to give in that way. I have the good fortune to be the mother of two daughters, a grandmother and the wife of my wonderful pianist.

Education?

I went to a music conservatory as a singer so that I could train to my best ability to be a singer. I also took other courses, which help round things out. Most specifically, other courses that I enjoyed were religion, English, German and French.

Place of birth/residence?

I was born in San Francisco, California. I moved to New York City after graduating from college (Oberlin Conservatory) and have lived in that state ever since, though now in the Western Catskill Mountains.

When did you discover your love for (classical) music?

My mother started teaching me classical piano when I was about seven. I fell in love with Bach's music right away. I began studying voice at the age of 14. I was encouraged to do this by a very talented schoolmate who was a singer and wanted someone to sing with.

How did you hone this skill?

Practice, practice, practice! And one voice lesson a week. I still need to practice every day or I notice that things are harder to do.

How did you get into the musical industry professionally?

After leaving college, I had the good fortune to be a fellowship student at a wonderful music festival in the US called Tanglewood. I spent the summer there and then moved to New York City. While I was working in a music store there to pay my rent, I started to get concert work through the contacts I had made the previous summer. One thing leads to another if you are lucky.

What type of musician are you?

My specialty is classical music and I have sung some opera. I love the concert repertory. I also have performed in quite a few musical theatre productions and sing a little jazz, though my tone production is pretty clearly a classical one. My brother is a drummer and my mother, now passed, was a wonderful jazz pianist, and we had a group called the Generations of Jazz, out in California.

What do you love about music?

This is trite, but it truly can open worlds between people in a wonderful way. It also is fun to bring music to life that was written many, many years ago and to make it live for an audience.

What differentiates you from other Classical Delight performers?

Each of us has worked hard at this discipline; that is what we have in common. What makes us different is who we are, physically, mentally and in personality. We share a need and a delight in performing. I feel that I am most myself when I am singing music I love.

Why did you decide to perform in St. Maarten for the Classical Delight concert?

It is rather a funny story. Our orchestra conductor back home in New York has a timeshare in St. Maarten. He and his wife, with whom Kim and I have worked many times, thought we would love to visit and he mentioned that there was a concert series here and he gave us the name of the person to contact. That got the ball rolling.

What can patrons expect from you at the concert?

A lot of energy and a real desire to bring our audience into the music; we will be doing several different styles and we hope to show that the variety can open minds to music from the 1800s to our 21st Century.

What were your first impressions of the island and what are your expectations?

I had no idea what to expect. The colour of the water, even from the airplane, took my breath away. We are staying at a resort, which is a first for us, so the traffic is a little intense. But the people are friendly and kind. Bernadine and her husband Gerard met us at the airport and have bent over backwards to make sure we are comfortable and cared for. And the warm weather is fabulous, especially as right now there is a blizzard in progress in our home state.

What inspires you when it comes to music?

I continue to be inspired by other artists (my husband among them) both young and the older generation which is passing away. There are current musicians who struggle with their art and continue despite those struggles. Also our world, which is now so plugged in and tech-heavy, can benefit from listening and playing live acoustic music in all forms. I am inspired my music teachers, too and know that it can be a battle to keep those programs going, certainly in my country.

What is your advice to other persons who want to follow in your professional path?

Do it because you love it and absolutely have to do it. You will not make much money unless you get very lucky. Keep up the discipline of practice, because it really does pay off, not only in your music but in the rest of your life. Listen to other artistes and go to concerts if you can.

What do you do outside of music?

I am a mother and a grandmother. I love to walk, swim, read and act.

What’s next for Johana Arnold?

The role of Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy, and the soprano soloist in the Mozart Requiem at the end of April.

What artistes do you listen to?

I love Ella Fitzgerald for jazz and Renee Fleming for opera.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

This is tough, and I admit right here that my husband is the better cook. I would love to invite Ella Fitzgerald over and we would have some of the fish out of our pond. The Obamas are on my list, too, and I have a special roast chicken dish I would cook for them. I am blanking on a third person.

Full name: Clifford Alexander Bernard Henry

St. Maarten nickname: Elastico Henry

Age: 30

City and country of residence today: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What St. Maarten district are you from?

Philipsburg – Down Street, they would say.

Where on St. Maarten did you go to school?

I attended Oranje Primary School and Milton Peters College

Describe yourself in five words.

Loving / Kind / Funny / Strong / Powerful.

What are your favourite St. Maarten memories?

Waking up that Saturday morning for my first ballet dance class with Teacher Clara and trying hard to follow her every move, then rushing to change for Teacher Rudy’s African class and pushing myself to get each and every move exactly like him; then sneaking into Teacher Arlene’s class and trying to copy everything she was teaching the company dancers. I imagined the dance school as my home – a place where I could always be myself.

How long have you been gone?

I’ve been gone for approximately two weeks and I still have ahead of me a long journey, which is going to be very exciting.

Tell us about studying abroad.

I am studying at Amsterdam Hogeschool voor de Kunsten where I am learning to better my technical dance skills, technique and teaching skills, and working towards becoming one of the best choreographers in the world.

Tell us about your short- and long-term aspirations.

My aspirations are to succeed in what I believe in; work and strive hard towards my goals and dreams; learn a lot so I can contribute towards my future; gain knowledge from every teacher so I can be successful at what I love to do.

What are three of the most important lessons you have learned?

(1) To work hard and never give up; (2) Pursue your dreams; (3) Don't let the best of anyone get to you.

Where do you see your life in 10 years?

I see myself 10 years from now running my own dance school; doing what I love to do, which is teaching dance; and giving as much information as possible; giving back to my society and the community; making a new change in the dance rules and regulations by allowing any student of any race to dance and feel welcome; and ensuring as much respect towards teachers and students.

What would you say to people who are nervous about the idea of leaving?

It’s okay to be nervous as it's a big step; sooner or later you will understand, but once you get out there, go and do what you were meant to do. Work on becoming that doctor, teacher, lawyer, judge, physical therapist, scientist or whatever. If you stumble or fall, dust yourself off and get right back up again, and work even harder and don't stop until you've succeeded. Always keep your head up and believe that you can do it and you will get through it.

What do you do when you are not studying or working?

I am reading dance books or books out the body, listening to music, and stretching.

Any advice for young people hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Just stay focused and never give up on what you believe in. Don't let anyone get the best of you. Always have a positive mind and remember what you want to do.

Tell us about three experiences abroad that have made a lasting impression and for what reason.

(1) The Washington, D.C., trip: Dashuan, Celina and I, with the Generation New Status group, were selected to go and represent St. Maarten along with Miss Nicole De Weever, who is the founder of Art Saves Lives, where the dancers learned choreography from stepping and cheering and the Generation New Status drummers learned the different beats which they had to display with our choreography which we later presented to the University.

(2) The trip to Seattle where I was sent to improve my teaching and learning skills so I could gain and learn the different ways and steps to teach infants, toddlers, juniors, teens and adults.

(3) The trip to Jamaica where we attended a dance intense programme which lasted one month. We had various dance teachers from all over the globe passing on information to us. We also attended various performances by the different companies and we came across some famous artists and visited Bob Marley’s neighbourhood and the place where he was.

The reason is so that I could get as much information as possible and gain all the knowledge I would be needing later on.

In a movie about the story of your life, who should portray you?

Zack Phipps of St. Maarten Academy.

Want to nominate someone for the Check-Me-Out? Send their name and contact info along with why they should be featured to lisa@thedailyherald.com

Chawlyn Mezas is a young woman who wears many caps. She is driven, and owns her own business. She is passionate about fitness, and aims to help keep others fit, moving and having fun while doing so. Let’s read more about Chawlyn in this week’s Hotseat.

Who is Chawlyn Mezas?

I’m 28 years old, and qualified in many fields. I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics and I’m a Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Swim Instructor, Dance Instructor and Nutrition Specialist. I am also the owner of Chawfitness.

How would you describe yourself?

I am determined, social, fit, educated and love to inspire others.

Where were you born and how did you end up on this lovely island?

I was born in Amsterdam and then moved to my mother’s country of origin, Curaçao, at the age of one. Then, when I was 9, I moved to Suriname, which is my father’s place of birth. At the age of 17, I returned to Holland to complete my studies. After graduating in 2012, I moved to Canada. After a year I decided that island life would be best for me, because, after all, I am an island girl. I love the sun and the beach. My sister lived in St. Maarten and only had good things to say about the island. I believe moving here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Where did you attend school?

I attended school in Curaçao at Coromoto College; in Suriname, Vrije School and Vrije Atheneum; and in Holland I attended Vrije University, where I Studied Business Economics. When I moved to Canada, I followed the Personal Training Course and then I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my Life!

What do you do for a living?

I am founder of the company “Chawfitness.” The company offers services and products that are related to fitness. The services are Personal Training (at two different locations on the island: Belair Fitness Center and I&I Fitness Center) and we also provide Home Training. We offer various classes: Zumba, Bodyshape, H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training), Bootcamp, Pilates, Private Swimming lessons, Salsa Lessons, Meal plans, Nutrition Supplements & Chawfitness Gym wear. If persons are interested in more information, they can check out my Facebook page Chawfitness.

What inspired you to go into the world of Fitness?

I have had a passion for fitness from a very young age. I used to do all kinds of sports: competition swimming, synchronized swimming, gymnastic, dancing and more. During my college years I was teaching dance classes to kids. Then I started teaching the classes in gyms across Holland for adults and I decided to do a Zumba & Hip-hop Course. I taught the classes and got more and more offers and decided to open my own company in Holland, called “C-Girl-dance.”

As time passed by, I decided to concentrate more on fitness. So when I came to the island, I started a Fitness Business, including swimming and dancing. As the business grew, more services and products became available, and I’m happy to say that it’s still growing.

What differentiates you from other fitness instructors?

I can name many things that differentiate me from other trainers on the island, but here are a few. First of all I am a Certified Personal Trainer at the American Council of Exercise (ACE), and I think most trainers on the island are not certified, but do it based of their own knowledge and experiences. Secondly, I am one of not many female trainers on the island. It makes a difference whether you train with a female or a male trainer. Some females don’t want to train with a male trainer. And some male clients get extra motivated when training with a female trainer because they want to show off. The third reason is that I am not only a trainer, but also an athlete, IFBB Bikini Bodybuilding, and competed in three Bikini Bodybuilding Competitions and won third prize twice. I also won Fittest on the Rock two years in a row (2015 and 2016).

I am a very competitive person and it keeps me motivated to train for something and compete. I love what I do and I think that is all that matters.

What are your pet peeves?

I don’t like negative people and I don’t like people who think they always know better.

I think we are all different and we should appreciate each other for who we are.

Because of my job, I meet so many different people with different personalities, and it is always a challenge to build trust. But that is part of the job. What I do like is meeting different people with good souls.

What’s your dream holiday venue?

I would love to travel to countries I haven’t seen, for instance to Australia, Dubai, Hawaii and   Bali to train people, or follow more courses related to fitness. I’d like to take part in competitions all over the world, hike, go to the beach and take lots of pictures. I basically want to travel the world and exercise at the same time.

Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies are swimming, playing board games and going salsa dancing.

Do you have a favourite quote?

“Health, Wealth and Love = Happiness’’

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party who would they be and what would you cook for them?

The three men I love the most in my life: my father, my brother, who both sadly passed away, and my boyfriend.

It would be nice to have all three of them together. They are all great cooks and they loved cooking more than I do. But if I had to make a dish, it would probably be my favourite dish, which is Spaghetti Bolognese.

Music award winner 

Local songstress Rosanna Castillo “Roxsy” Scott was one of the lucky winners at the 20th Caribbean Gospel Marlin Awards ceremony held at Dr. Myles Munroe Diploma Center, in Nassau Bahamas on February 25. She shared categories with big artistes in the industry, such as Papa San, Sherwin Gardner, Positive, Carlene Davis and Nigel Lewis. The Zamar Musical Productions label singer was nominated in the categories Foreign Language Recording of the Year for her song “Necesito”; Contemporary Vocal Performance of the Year Duo/Group for “True Friend”, which she sang with Shawn J and Torch Eugene; Contemporary Female Vocal Performance of the Year for “Praise You” and Product Packaging for “Shake It Off”.

Who is Roxsy?

First and foremost, I am a worship ambassador at the David Company led by Dr. Alicia M. Liverpool. I’m also a soulful singer, who loves music and loves making people happy when she sings.

How would you describe yourself?

I am someone who loves people and loves helping others. I am friendly and sympathetic and someone who loves to see others smile.

Education?

I attended school in French Saint Martin from the primary up to the tertiary level.

Place of birth?

I was born in the Dominican Republic. My great grandparents are from French Saint Martin, therefore, we decided to move here when I was two years old.

When did you discover your love for music?

Since I was four years old, we would have a singing and dancing competition every weekend at my great aunt’s house. I would win each and every time and realised it was something I did more and more and began to get better.

How did you hone this skill?

I believe I was born with it.

How did you get into the musical industry professionally?

I began as a back-up singer with Youth Waves in 1997. Then in 2000, I began singing in different hotels and casinos on the island.

What type of musician are you?

I am a singer who loves all types of music, but my main passion is gospel music.

What do you love about music?

I love the way it makes people feel. I love the diversity of it.

Why did you decide to enter the 20th Caribbean Gospel Marlin Awards?

My friend Rizon, who is also a gospel singer out of Trinidad, suggested that I send in my album for nomination consideration.

How do you feel winning the Foreign Language Recording of the Year for your song Necesito?

I am still in awe, but it feels so good to know that after all these years, I am accomplishing so much.

What do you think this means for St. Maarten/St. Martin?

It could open doors for other local gospel artistes and it puts our island on the map in the arena of gospel music. It shows that we have multi-talented people locally and that great things can come out of this 37-square-mile island.

What was the inspiration behind the song that won?

The song was written by a good friend who lives in the Dominican Republic right now. His name is Geily Eduardo Nova. He wrote the song when he was going through a difficult time after his dad was killed here on the island. It speaks about needing Christ and His grace during his storm.

What do you think gave you the edge over other nominees in this category?

It is hard to tell, because there were so many different artistes from across the Caribbean singing in different languages.

What other musical awards have you won in the past?

I won Holy Hip Hop/Instrumental/Alternative Gospel CD of the year for my album “Shake it off” at the 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards in Memphis, Tennessee.

What goes into bringing out a song?

It is a lot of hard work and hours in the studio.

Do you write your own music? What inspires you?

I have written a few songs yes. I mostly write about my life experiences.

What is your advice to other singers who want to follow your professional path?

I would like to tell them that no matter how hard or difficult it may seem, don’t give up. Nothing good comes easy. Master your craft and do it the best you can.

What other future award competitions can we expect you to compete in?

I really can’t tell right now.

How do you think the music industry in St. Maarten can be strengthened?

I believe there should be an established foundation or association dedicated to the music industry, that helps artists get their music out of the island and to the rest of the world. We have so many young talented people who need guidance in the right path and financial support to help them accomplish their dreams.

What do you do outside of music?

I work as a guest services assistant at La Samanna Resort and I am the project assistant manager for Zamar Musikfest.

What’s next for Roxsy?

I am currently working on new music. This time around, I am more focused on Latin music.

Hobbies?

I love dancing and relaxing.

What is your favourite type of music? What artistes do you listen to?

I love gospel music, soul and R&B and I enjoy listening to Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Gerald Levert, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Sapp and so many other great oldies but goodies – I love old school.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would invite Alicia Keys, Marvin Sapp and Toni Braxton and I would cook them coconut peas and rice with curry cream shrimps, potato salad, green salad and fried ripe plantains.

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