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Caymanian musician Rico Rolando reflects on career and Capella

Singer, songwriter, producer and radio host Rico Orrett Ebanks is one of the headline local acts at this year’s Capella Music Festival being held on 29 April.

Image: Javier McKenzie

Here, the artist known as Rico Rolando tells What’s Hot magazine about his background and plans.

Q. For anyone not familiar with your music, what genre do you perform?

A. The style of music that I like to focus on is pop and R&B music. However, I went to school in Canada back in 2009 and I studied opera and jazz, and I am still able to mix that in with some of the mainstream music that I’m doing currently.

Q. Do you also write and produce your own songs?

A. Yes, I write and produce all of my own music and I get help from my producer who is Yannick Powell. His artist’s name is Vazco.

Q. What is your background and how did you first break into the music scene?

A. I first broke onto the scene through my mother (Nina Orrett). My mother is a musician, and she is one of the most talented female artists, vocalists, from the Cayman Islands. She has opened up for everyone; (for example) Chaka Khan. She has recorded her studio album in Bob Marley’s studio in Jamaica and she has been able to do many things within her career. Just that alone was able to get me on the scene. However, back in 2006 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour that took out 24 percent of her brain at that time and we ended up having a benefit concert for her, where we raised over $40,000 that night. It was one of the most sold-out shows in the Cayman Islands. That is when I first broke onto the scene, I was 11 years old, singing Gloria Estefan’s “Reach”.

Q. What have been some of the highlights and major milestones as your music career has blossomed?

A. I have been able to sing the national song when Prince Charles (now King Charles) was visiting when I was very, very young. I think I was 11. Later on in my career, I have been able to open up for many artists, including at Kaboo Cayman, and Capella last year as well, and many, many artists who have visited Cayman for concerts. Some more highlights of my career have been when my album Taurus Truth went to number one on Amazon Music and Apple Music. From there I was able to build my career and build my performance and be able to know what my value and my worth is as an artist.

Q. What inspires your creativity?

A. Most of my creativity is inspired through my emotions and, whether I am happy or sad, I love to write about it and create melodies and create music at the end of that experience. Most of my music is based on emotions in past relationships.

Q. Which of your songs are you most proud of/mean the most to you?

A. Some of my favourite tracks include songs like “Lullaby”, “Roses”, “Pyramids” and “Faded” – all off my album “Taurus Truth”, and some songs off my album “Rejection”.

Q. Are there any particular music trailblazers whom you look up to?

A. Definitely, the trailblazers would be my mother Nina Orrett, and also other trailblazers like Notch, ThE iZ, Stephan Cotterell, Andrea Rivera and many more.

Q. What do you see as challenges in the Cayman Islands for both young and established musicians and what do you think could be done to help them more?

A. Some of the challenges would definitely have to be the support. In most cases we don’t have the support system. In Jamaica they (artists) may not necessarily have the funds to get them there, but they will still have that support system. Most of the time it all comes down to shares and likes and people commenting, rather than getting money put behind a music video or money put behind a song. It is much more appreciated by artists when it’s shared and liked and commented on by all your fans and friends and family.

Q. Last year you performed at Capella, where the likes of Beres Hammond, Maxi Priest and Michael Bolton were also starring. How did it feel to be on the stage at an event with such giants of the music industry?

A. I was able to perform for the first Capella back in 2017 and, definitely, for the last Capella it was such an amazing experience. Although my set time was a bit early, I was still star-struck by performances by Michael Bolton, Charli XCX and Wyclef Jean.

Q. What are you looking forward to at this year’s Capella festival and what can your fans expect from your performance?

A. I am very excited for this year’s Capella. I can’t wait to see the artists’ line-up. I am also super excited to see some more local acts as well. And, people can definitely expect to see my live band and a big, big, big drastic change in my image coming this April.

Q. After Capella, what is on the horizon for you in terms of your music?

A. You can definitely expect more music coming from me. I am working on my third album right now and in talks with labels at the moment.

Q. Where can people see you perform around island?

A. People can see me perform at Palm Heights. I am one of the resident artists there, along with a few places like the Ritz-Carlton, and any music festival events that take place on-island.

Q. Readers may also recognise you from the radio. Which show do you host?

A. Yes, I am one of the hosts for Island FM’s Island Vibe morning show, with my main host Zosia. She is such an inspiring radio host and someone that I look up to within the music scene as well.

Q. What shout-out do want to you give to your fellow Caymanian musicians?

A. For any of my upcoming artists who want to do music, I would say to continue to drive yourself into writing more music, creating more songs, and being inspired by the culture in the Cayman Islands.

Q. Lastly, aside from music, what are your favourite things to do around the Cayman Islands when you are not working?

A. Some of my favourite things to do on-island are to enjoy the daily sunset on Seven Mile Beach. Also, to hang out with my friends and enjoy my new-found hobby of exercising.

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