traffik's new girl: Charli Griffith has released two tracks alongside the band, Traffik Plus for Carnival 2013, they are, "Go Down Low" and "Is Yours." —Photos courtesy TRAFFIK PLUS MANAGEMENT

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Charli moves Traffik

By Wayne Bowman wayne.bowman@trinidadexpress.com

Home on a break from what had been a hectic couple of years recording and performing out in the United States alongside her sister as the vocal duo known as 2Ntrigue, Charli Griffith was approached by the band Traffik Plus to be a member, at least while she's in Trinidad.

The Arima-born singer had always wanted to experience being in a soca band especially during the Carnival season and said yes to Traffik Plus founder Andy Joseph. What has resulted thus far are performances receiving high praise from the audiences the band has performed before in the weeks since Griffith teamed up with fellow frontline members, Stephen Marcelle and Raughn Valere.

Traffik Plus was at one time among the most sought after bands during the Carnival here and at the versions of the festival throughout the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Things changed though and the band experienced a number of ups and downs over the years, but Joseph remained dedicated to the brand and rallied.

Joseph recently rebranded the band, adjusting its name hence, Traffik Plus and brought in some young talent. Bringing Griffith on board believing that her vocal versatility and performance style will go a long way towards reestablishing Traffik as one of the region's most versatile and best Sounding bands doing not only soca, but all forms of Caribbean music including reggae, dancehall, zouk, cadence and more.

Griffith grew up at Lynton Gardens in Arima and began singing when she joined the choir at St Joseph's Girls' RC Primary School. After graduating from El Dorado Secondary, Griffith started feeling her way around the local music scene, testing the waters to see exactly what opportunities there were to be a professional entertainer.

Having also been a member of her church choir, Griffith was eventually introduced to Sterling Gittens who directed a gospel group known as Youth Pulse. Here Griffith honed her skill, learning how to effectively use her vocals and project properly, rather than just mimic notes and sing from her throat as many do believing they are doing the right thing.

One day Griffith was approached by music producer, $hel $hok who she had known for some time and he told her to come with him for an audition at the Caribbean Sound Basin Studios in Maraval. Griffith's music career began in earnest from this point and for the next several years her life became quite hectic, leaving her with very little time for anything other than recording and performing.

"I always dreamed of being a singer, but I was so shy. $hok was always after me, saying that I had to get up and do something. That evening in 1995 he told me to just come now and try out at the auditions. That led to me doing a track with Laura Pierre and then I did a song titled, "Illusion" with $hok. For the next couple of years we just worked on recordings," Griffith said.

"My sister, Kelli and I then started to sing with Audie Hewitt before he joined H2O Phlo and when Charsu (Richard Ahong) asked Audie to join that group, he suggested that my sister and I perform as a duo. While we were in studio Rolph Warner came to check us out and he commented that our style was intriguing.

That was how we got the name, 2Ntrigue. Well, we eventually headed out to the States where we spent some time performing and recording until we decided that we just wanted to come home for a while. My sister decided that she wanted to just spend time taking things easy and focusing on the family and so I took the opportunity to work with Traffik because I have wanted to do the soca band thing so bad," Griffith said.

Griffith and Traffik Plus have already released a couple of songs for the 2013 season; "Go Down Low" and "Is Yours." Both tracks are receiving substantial hits on Youtube and airplay is steadily picking up on local radio.

Although considered a newcomer on the Carnival soca circuit, fellow artistes and fete promoters know her well and aware of her ability to hold audiences captive vocally and with her performance style. Griffith knows she will have her work cut out in the coming weeks, but she is up for the challenge and quite ready to keep Traffik moving.

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