Tobago national Caleb Hart is spreading the message of love, warmth and family in Canada through his music as lead singer of one of North America’s newest bands, “Tasman Jude”.
And according to Hart, the band is ready to scale the heights of success based on the reviews it has received.
Born in Canada, Hart told Express he also lived in the Vincentian island of Canouan, as well as Trinidad, before his family finally settled in his homeland of Tobago when he was four years old.
“I went to Lambeau Anglican School then on to Bishops High School, followed by a sixth form stint at Signal Hill Comprehensive School before I finally moved back to Canada at 19.
“When I tell people that I’m from Tobago they go like ‘really, Tobago’. It’s kind of cool because I just love Tobago and its people.
“It’s really laid back and I love the culture, the food and everything about it,” Hart said.
Hart, who described himself as Tobagonian at heart (no pun intended), said he discovered he had a passion for music at the age of five.
“I started in Church because that’s where everybody basically starts and my parents still have photos of me from back then holding a mic in my hands and singing my heart out.
“I wrote my first song at the age of 12 and I had a different plan for it but today it is actually Tasman Jude’s “Angel”.
Hart said the song, which was released some ten years after it was penned, carries a different chorus, but still contains all the original verses he composed at the age of 12.
“People in Tobago began realising that I actually had a decent voice when I was about 16, so when I went back to Canada I started going around to the lesser fortunate communities in Northern Canada doing inspirational hip hop and reggae.
“I was inspiring youths by letting them know that even if they had no money or their parents were not there for them, that there’s still hope and that they can still make it in this life by deciding what they wanted to do, put their minds and heart behind it and they would succeed.”
Hart said his first break came while doing his thing as an inspirational speaker/singer when he met Canada’s first double Grammy hip hop nominee and the winner of over 80 musical awards, Robert “Fresh I. E.” Wilson.
So I got onto his tenth anniversary of his first Grammy nomination album, “Red Letterz”, which picked up two Gospel Music awards in Canada about a month ago, under my performing name “Bravehart.”
“And while performing under the name Bravehart I met Al Peterson, who’s now my band mate”.
The birth of Tasman Jude
Al, Hart said, liked reggae, so they agreed that they would collaborate, but a year-and-a-half passed and it never happened.
“The next thing you know is Al brought along his guitar for an Open Mic event at the College in Grand Prairie, Alberta and we got up on the stage, free-styled everything and captivated about 150 college students.
“That was January 17, 2013 and that was the beginning of Tasman Jude.”
Hart said in the 11 short month of the band’s existence they have performed at 110 shows.
“We were just two guys who shared one interest and got together and launched with no limits. We have no borders, we’re just going and we’re going to take over the world.”
According to Hart, it was difficult at first to get Canadians to gravitate to island music.
“Tasman Jude does mainly reggae, but also performs soca and calypso along with a bit of hip hop and pop.
“There’s stuff in Toronto and Vancouver and but where I live in Alberta is about a 14-hour drive north of the US border.
“It is so far that it was and still is very difficult to be doing Caribbean musical genres.”
He said that normally performing artistes can make good money doing Christmas parties but nobody is going to hire a reggae band or an island music band for a Christmas party in Grand Prairie, Alberta.
“That’s how it was, but now that Tasman Jude has appeared on the scene, they’ll hire Tasman Jude.”
He stated that the level of acceptance they received was quite encouraging as people genuinely liked what they offered.
“All they have is country and rock music so the reggae and soca offer them a fascinating musical experience that’s allowing people to expand their horizon musically, emotionally and spiritually too as reggae is more deep than the average genre, since we sing about meaningful things, about life and struggles and getting over those struggles.
“So what I am trying to do is break the barrier and it’s going to leave a legacy whether it’s Tasman Jude who started it or Tasman Jude the band that did it,” Hart said.
Bravehart the entertainer
Hart would love to be a career entertainer, even though he knows his heart is deeper.
“I think it’s the thing I am going to do mainly for the rest of my life.
“I think Tasman Jude will be my main thing and if I want to do performances on the side as Bravehart then I will definitely explore that option and have a blast doing it because the sky is not the limit.
“I grew up in a poor family in Tobago and I recall us having Crix for dinner, but look at me now; there are no limits.”
He lists performing in front of his home crowd at the Tobago Jazz Festival as one of his life dreams.
“The organisers of Tobago Jazz communicated with us asking for our Press Kit, so I don’t know if it will happen, but it will be a huge honour to perform at that festival next April.
“I want to come to T&T and do that for my people. I think if I died after that I would be okay, knowing I have played before a big crowd in my hometown.”
Hart said things can really fall into place since he’s currently engaged in discussions with the department of Youth Affairs with regards to holding some motivational sessions with some of the local schools during the month of April.
Beauty of Caribbean music
“We have something so beautiful, it’s amazing. If you listen to what they call world beats in North America or a World Cup song it’s really our average soca beat.
"They might sing differently, probably in an R&B style, but what it boils down to is singing soca without a Trini accent”, he pointed out, adding that sometimes those artists use soca, samba and dancehall beats all mixed together and they don’t even know it.
“That’s how much we have infiltrated the world, but I think what I’ve really realised is how beautiful and blessed we are, not just Trinidad and Tobago but as a Caribbean community.
“We listen to a good calypso, and it hit you straight down in your heart like a how good conscious reggae song will make you lose your inhibition while soca makes you want to dance.
“When you listen to a country song you just don’t get those sorts of vibes, it doesn’t grab you and make you want to lose your inhibitions or make you want to dance or anything like that.
“Caribbean music makes you want to relax and have a joyous, happy time and all the stress and worries of life disappears,” he said.
Soca on the international stage
Hart said he believes the main reason soca hasn’t quite commanded a place on the international stage is because of its lyrics.
“Quite honestly, it’s the lyrics. I’m a lyricist so the only reason I would not enjoy a soca song is because of the lyrics.
“Who could not dance or tap their feet to a soca song? You have to, but as a lyricist personally, if I am not getting impacted by what you have to say, for example, if you’re saying ‘jump and wave’ 24 times in a song then that’s irrelevant to me.”
He said that soca lyrics will not appeal to people who have been spending 60-100 years focusing on lyrics.
“You’re talking about blues, jazz and rock. Basically soca is the island pop but pop is appealing to a culture whereas soca, especially the wine and wave brand, appeals to people of T&T and some of the smaller Caribbean islands.
“We saw the difference with Bunji Garlin’s ‘Differentology’ on Grey’s Anatomy. Differentology is one of the best soca songs of all times and likewise, Bunji Garlin is easily one of the best.”
Hart said Bunji will come to Tobago and perform in front of ten people for next to nothing and then sell out a stadium of 10,000.
“The man is all heart. Likewise, Shurwayne Winchester, he’ll drop everything and come and perform for ten children.”
Hart believes that level of humility is truly what makes the difference, as there are some soca artistes who will never do something like that since they would only performing for audiences of 10,000 or more, or they won’t move unless you pay them this much.
He said any type of artiste who has made those kinds of decisions have locked themselves out from truly being a people’s person.
“And who got them to where they are? The people. Fans get you where you are.
“Tasman Jude is nothing without the support we’ve gotten in the last year. So I take that, I embrace it and I don’t stop thanking our family—yes I call them family I don’t have fans.
“I have support and I have love, so I have a family that is holding me firm and pushing me to higher heights.”
Tasman Jude’s wish list
Hart said he would love to have one of their songs chosen as the 2014 World Cup song.
“We have written and recorded two songs that we are going to be submitting to the World Cup and the one titled ‘All In One Rhythm’, could make us go from playing in front of 500 to 50,000.
“We wrote it with a band called The Steadies, one of Canada’s premier big bands, and I think it’s a masterpiece.
“Other than that I just want to play music whether it’s in front of 10 or 10,000 because I’ve done both. I’ve performed in front of ten and have performed in front of 6,000 and I feel the same way when I’m on the stage because I am doing what I love to do.
“If you keep your heart humble then the lyrics will flow from it and Bunji Garlin has shown that he’s the boss at that. His fruit is being shown by his music being used on Grey’s Anatomy.”
Hart said he’s had people come up to him and say that Tasman Jude is one of the best they’ve heard.
“I relay my message in my music .Whenever I want people to understand what I stand for I tell them listen to my music because when you listen you’ll hear my heart, it not just the words but also the way in which I’m doing it, which is my highest passion.”
Tasman Jude currently has five tracks: “Fountains”, “Angel”, “Rejoicing”, “Family” and “Take You Away”, which has the sound of steelpan in the background, on the charts in Canada. They also featured in The Steadies’ tour of Canada, where they performed Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” with the Canadian island rock band.
The band’s music can be found on YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation.
They can also be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TasmanJude and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TasmanJude.