A singer from New York decided to go to the core of the reggae music; shared the stage with the well-known Isreal Vibration and Tribe Sankofa. Plus, joining the stage with one of the legendary Wailers, Bunny Wailer and many else. We had a chat with Althea Hewitt to tell us more about that fruitful journey…
You have been with Tipsy Records since 2011, how was the collaboration between you and them?
Working with Tipsy Records was a fantastic experience. Tipsy was the engineer. The Producer was Blackbeard. He owns a studio is in Portmore Jamaica, and was overly gracious with his studio time. I only had to show up, write and record on the rhythms he had already recorded and I made use of that opportunity. We have more than an album worth of songs and he is currently working on a distribution deal.
What was so unique about Tipsy that differentiated him from any other record labels?
I was not pressed on time, as I said Blackbeard was very generous with his studio time. The advice and mentoring he offered having been in this business for years. And finally having the rhythms already composed and recorded for me. It is priceless. In times like this where money sometimes seems evasive, he gave me –Althea- a chance to create my own material, to express my experiences as well as write about how I view the world. My next move is to hire musicians to do a live album. That’s one of my dreams.
You were a part of Israel Vibration as backing vocals for a while; tell us more about that experience…
I am still doing harmonies for Israel Vibration. As I speak, I am in a hotel called Paradise House in Bogota, Colombia. Tonight we will perform at a reggae festival here in Bogota. I love doing harmony, it keeps me active. Israel Vibration gives me a chance to exercise my vocals and I love the positive messages that there music spreads. Skelly and Wiss (Israel Vibration) are really good at what they do. I am very choosy when it comes to artistes I work with on stage. I take music very seriously so my standards are high.
Tribe Sankofa looks so interesting by mixing poetry with visual arts and stylish music, where did the idea come from?
Tribe Sankofa was started by a man called Fabian Thomas. He has won many Actor boy awards and has been in the theatre business for years. I met Fabian when I did some courses at Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica in 97 or 98. I was doing drama classes, voice, speech and some dancing. He taught voice and speech and ever since then, I have been in productions he has directed like “Hairpeace” by Janice Liddell, Word Soul and many other performances that combines acting, singing and dancing. I have learnt a lot from Fabian who is a perfectionist. Working with Tribe Sankofa really helped me broaden my horizons. I got a chance to exercise another gift, acting.
Any audio or video releases coming for the band soon?
I am glad you asked. Yes I do have two songs out on iTunes. Bounce and Doe Rae Mi. I am currently promoting Doe Rae Mi. I just did a video which was uploaded on YouTube. So yes you can all go ahead and give it a listen on my Althea Hewitt YouTube channel and please share and leave your comments. And while you are at it, check out the other songs as well, I am sure you will like, thank you.
Since you toured alongside some of the greats such as Bunny Wailer, tell us more about these experiences…
My experiences with Bunny Wailer were also great. I have learned a thing or two from watching him perform. I did a few shows in Jamaica and went on tour to England, Belgium and I think Sweden as well. He’s got lots of fans that love his music. He talks a lot and gives good pointers. We did a duet recording which is coming out on a duet album with other female artists. I feel it’s a privilege to have worked with such a legend.
We heard that you were involved with Calico Music Group as management and as a music group, what exactly was the extent of that involvement?
The Calico Music Group was a one time performance scenario so it wasn’t a management contractual agreement. It was a single performance I did for them.
It seems you shared your talent with some radio stations; could you tell us more about that?
I have been in this business for a while now and I used to be with a group called 4th Street Sisters which consisted of four girls. The concept was that we represented different backgrounds from the inner city. When the group dissolved I continued on a solo path. I was signed to VP Records out of New York for five years but only produced one album called “Introducing Althea Hewitt”. I was very grateful to have an album, my first at that, on shelves around the world and of course online. So I am thankful for that, but, I requested to cancel the contract as I thought we had an agreement for three albums within the time specified. Frank Sinatra said “That’s life” and life does goes on. So, since then I have had singles out on YouTube like “If I were a boy”, “Be without you” and “Let me know” in Reggae adapted versions.
Since you’ve been in the music scene for many years, what are the changes -in your opinion- between the past and the present?
I don’t see any changes between the past and the present in the music. To do business you have to have money. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet good people who have helped me have my first real experience with vocal lessons (Mrs. Suzan Couch) and studio harmonies (her husband Mr Couch), so many lessons that I could not have been able to afford. Thanks to those who have passed away. Thanks to my friends, family and fans – my 3F’s – who are here and are still, rooting for me. I will be forever grateful.
Althea Hewitt as a solo artist; what are you upcoming plans. Also, are you aiming to release an album soon?
My career in the music business has been a wonderful journey so far, and I want to take it to the next level. I am currently promoting my new video, Doe Rae Mi and I am working on new material to achieve my next dream, which is to produce three songs in studio. Get the musicians in to lay down the tracks, get in a distributor, the whole nine yards. Investing in your career can be tedious when you don’t have an investor. It’s just constant hard work and when you are in bed, a song wakes me up in the wee hours of the morning and I have to get it out of my head sometimes. It’s what I live for. It’s what I love. Thank you for this opportunity to express myself. To hear my recordings and videos, you can find me on YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Reverberation. All you need to do is Google Althea Hewitt.