St Lucian reggae artiste on making music amid baby loss, brain surgery
In a moment when all her goals seemed possible, Esther Antoine nearly lost her mind and then her life. The unexpected death of her youngest child in 2008 left the singer, songwriter, author and her family in a daze as it was discovered that the five-month-old baby boy died in his crib, due to a fault in the design. It was a discovery that caused about 2,000 cribs to be recalled from the stores.
While coping through the grief, tragedy struck again, not once but twice, as the St Lucian, who resides in New York, developed unbearable headaches, which doctors diagnosed as the result of two brain aneurysms being formed.
“No pain compares. Losing a child is hard; I prayed and I am still praying for closure. I believe I am strong and by doing everything necessary, including doing what I love, has helped me to process the pain,” she told The Gleaner.
Known by her stage name, Esther Sings, she has a deep connection with music through her father Gregory Smith, who was also a singer and would have performed throughout the Caribbean region. And, being married to a Jamaican, she could not resist the call of the bass-heavy sound of reggae music, she said. It is a sound that helped her keep herself rooted and strong – from the songs of Marcia Griffiths to those of Sizzla – in her affirmations that the pain would one day go away, once she remained solid as a rock.
“Very good things happen because of reggae; I saw where I could write my story and also put it in song to let my fans know that there’s always a silver lining beyond the horizon. I have observed that with all their hurdles, these reggae artistes never gave up on music, recording and performing and I love dearly all that they create. I feel so broken-hearted ever so often, but singing especially their songs in karaoke helps and motivates me,” Esther Sings said.
Writing became her source of therapy, spreading her story through two back-to-back book publications, titled You Left me Broken and Surviving a Brain Aneurysm and How it Changed My Life. Penning songs also uplifted her, and she produced four songs: Cease Fire, Do My Best, If I Ever Love You Up, and her latest single, I Want To Live.
“When I look at my children, though sad in a way, I’m happy. He could have been here and would be 13 years old and I’m still a mother to three more children and I have to be strong for them. They support me always through hugs and kisses,” she said. “Being a survivor of two clipped aneurysms in my brain shows some purpose and strength. There are many persons who are sick in bed, mothers who are being abused and killed by their spouse, wars happening physically and spiritually, but I’m here with the support and armed with reggae tracks to inspire,” she said.
Esther Sings continues to promote her music and her book publications across the UK, USA, and Jamaica. She said that the catchy lyrics of I Want To Live, which is produced by John Hewitt under African Voice Productions, pushes persons to live in their purpose, she said.
“People are gravitating to it because they are seeking feel-good music and one those that tell a true, relatable story. Most of my music is based on love and pain and this song is especially dear to me, because I give more of me. It is also an action of affirmation for persons struggling with issues that put them in a dark space to push through and live,” she declared.