Soca artiste Erphaan Alves still ‘Grateful’ - Pandemic pushes charity birthday event online
Trinidadian Soca Global recording artiste and songwriter Erphaan Alves was not going to allow the pandemic to change the plans for his birthday this year. Following in the footsteps of his Pick a Side comrade Kes, Alves, will take to the screens to host his third annual charity concert, Grateful, virtually this Sunday, November 22, to celebrate a year like no other.
Speaking to The Sunday Gleaner about the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in the twin-island republic, the soca artiste said that the authorities have the event industry on lockdown. Some restrictions, previously implemented to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, have been extended into December.
“We still have to follow social-distancing guidelines, wearing of masks, and so on. Gatherings of more than ten persons are prohibited at this time,” Alves said.
Trinidad and Tobago has recorded a total of 6,233 positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, November 19, of which 5,531 have recovered and 113 have died.
It has been a difficult time, but birthdays, being part of family traditions for Alves, have always been a means of celebration, to give thanks for life, and to inspire happiness. “I would not want to have missed a celebration. Every year in the week of my birthday I hosted a party. What started as a house party moved into the clubs then evolved into an outdoor event. Now, with the pandemic, we flexed it into a virtual experience that everyone can be a part of. I’ll still celebrate privately with close family and friends safely,” he said.
Erphaan Alves turns 29 on Monday, November 23. The concert will be a continuation from last year’s show, where the soca artiste and his ‘tEAm’ (pronounced team EA) performed on a floating stage set up above the bar at The Anchorage in Chaguaramas. He says no expenses have been spared to adapt and maintain a high-quality production for his first virtual event. The soca artiste has recruited veteran video extraordinaire Walt Lovelace and his Logging Tape Media to produce the show.
“Naturally, the overall experience will be different. It’s Erphaan Alves in a different realm. I’m adding to that with a set [of] songs that I hold dear to my heart, including hits of the past and the present. There will be a classical tribute to some of the legends that have paved the way for the younger generation of entertainers. I’ll be doing a special performance of covers and playing instruments live – also a first for me,” Alves said about the change in format and presentation of the live show.
With the monetisation of virtual events posing a challenge, the charity birthday concert was not promoted as a ticketed event. Instead, the Overdue entertainer is asking fans to donate to the Erphaan Alves Grateful Foundation, which supports the music and arts programmes at his alma mater, St George’s College in Barataria, east of the capital city of Port-of-Spain.
He shared: “The charity aspect of it has always been to say thanks, and this time around, I am thanking the St George’s College here, which played an integral role in my life as an artiste. It has a very structured musical department with teachers that left a lasting impression on me. How else can I say thanks than to create an avenue and platform where not only myself and tEAm can support, but one where I can encourage fans to patronise.”
The Grateful Concert will be aired at 7:30 p.m. AST/6:30 p.m. EST on Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), YouTube, and Digicel’s D’Music mobile app. Viewers across the world will be able to donate using GoFundMe and text-to-give fundraising.
“I am targeting the world, not just Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, or Jamaica because soca is a very dynamic and unique product, and I created this event to let the world see that and to share that blissful expression with persons in their homes,” he said. “My mission is to push the [soca global] and for people to see what a young Trini artiste could provide and display in a virtual format, essentially representing Trinidad and the Caribbean by extension.”
He shared that while not many new soca releases are circulating the airwaves for the impending carnival season, owing to the uncertainty, he believes that in January, more will surface. Alves is celebrating the release of Memories, his rendition of Maroon 5’s 2019 pop hit of the same title, and the first track from the Grateful Mixtape by DJ Private Ryan.
“I’m doing my part to rally all the creatives to try to keep the genre alive and elevate spirits in the best possible way during this time,” he said.