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Bigford brings something big to Little Carib
“South people stake their claim on me,” Vaughnette Bigford likes to joke. “It’s almost as though they feel a sense of ownership.” And well they might, as the La Brea-born entertainer frequently performs in Naparima Bowl, the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (Sapa), and other popular southern venues. “That’s where most of my base is. Southerners come out to my concerts!”
Now, Bigford is seeking to attract a greater audience, and widen the span of her appeal to embrace music lovers from the north as well. While she has, of course, performed at several collaboratives at northern venues, she will be holding her first full-length concert upwind of the Caroni bridge on Saturday June 9th at the Little Carib Theatre at 7.30 p.m.
“The Little Carib is one of my favourite spaces,” she enthuses, “along with places like Kaiso Blues in Newtown and the Central Bank Auditorium. I love the acoustics, and I feel a certain connection to my audience. I like to see their faces, read their expressions. I also feel a sense of connection to all the artistes who have passed through there before me.”
The music for Vaughnette Bigford in Concert was arranged by Michael Low Chew Tung (Ming), Theron Shaw, and Rodney and Khalen Alexander, although she says she “chooks her hand” into arrangement as well. “All of my band members contributed to the arrangements, actually.”
Guest performers for the night will be Michael Salcedo on the steelpan, John John Francis on vocals, and what she promises will be “a special surprise”.
Bigford is fresh from her 2017 Born to Shine CD tour, during which she performed before ecstatic fans at venues throughout Trinidad. The feedback on her signature concerts, Shades of Vaughnette, was excellent, she says. “We’ve already sold about 1,000 copies of the CD.”
It was an exciting tour, made more notable for her by the evident appreciation people have of the music of Trinidad and Tobago. “There was a lot of nostalgia for music they hadn’t heard in a long time; Carol Addison, Kalyan, Oliver Chapman, Wildfire…I gave a different interpretation of it, and that took them back to their special place. Even for the younger people, you could see that it resonated with them.”
Recently, she has been faced with a few health challenges, including respiratory issues, which, for a singer, can be difficult. “A guitarist can put his instrument in a case to protect it,” she explains, “but as a singer, I can’t.”
Now back in fighting form after her post-Christmas-to-Carnival hiatus, she is once again ready to stand before her audiences and sing her heart out. This time, she is coming with something different. “We’re bringing new music, to appeal to a broader audience.”
She refuses to be typecast as solely an interpreter of local songs. “I love doing that, but I also do other things, and this will be a reminder. For example, I haven’t done jazz or World music in a long time.”
And many of her newer fans, who may know her only from Born to Shine or recent concert tours, might be surprised to discover the Vaughnette that had been showing off her wide range of skills since 2004. For her, it will be a kind of homecoming. “I want people to know I’m an artiste who has always done different things. They are going to see a different side of Vaughnette.
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