As the adage goes, father knows best and it's quite true that when parents insist on anything most times they know why and it's with good reason. The children of Yvette and Lloyd Cartar will agree with that wholeheartedly and they will also tell you that their happiness today is as a result of being obedient to their mother and father. That, and the fact that their father knew a bit about life and had a vision of what the future held.
The Cartar children, Philip, Dax and Marie-Angelique — the Cartar Family — are today all skilled musicians and vocalists who are blowing the minds of audiences with their phenomenal talents wherever they perform. The trio alongside their mother, who serves as manager of the group, dropped in at the Express last Thursday for a chat about their music and what's up ahead for the tight-knit family unit.
In the Cartar family trio Philip serves as the leader and plays guitar, violin, piano and performs lead vocals. Dax is the guitarist and he also plays piano, while Marie-Angelique does lead vocals. They perform multiple genres including sentimental, jazz, pop, light rock and their own arrangements of calypso and retro soca.
This is definitely not the case of jack of all trades, master of none. Based on the reviews of people who have seen them in action, these three musicians deliver sterling performances, no matter what style of music they are doing. Listening to them speak of what they do and the various musical styles they perform, the Cartar family does not simply do music, they live it...no...completely imbibe it.
This began when the Cartars, who are now in their early to mid-twenties, were children and their father insisted that they take music lessons. Cartar was a highly respected journalist who went into the field of public relations and worked with several major local companies through Public Relations Counsellors Limited of which he and Yvette were directors.
Cartar told the children that playing musical instruments would help make them well rounded individuals. Their mother of course supported their father's decision as she too understood that music would not only give them an edge socially and academically, but also instill discipline.
"They hated it and would find every excuse not to go to the lessons. Lloyd would tell them that they were going whether they wanted to or not and that when they turned 18-years-old they could throw the piano in the river. The thing was, it was my piano," Cartar said laughing.
As time moved along the children began to take to their respective instruments realising the value of knowing music and being able to play instruments. Even Marie-Angelique who was learning the recorder at school decided at one time that she wanted to play the saxophone, but decided that it was a bit too difficult at the time.
The children studied at the Excelsior School of Music under the tutelage of Clarence Carroll and after he passed away they continued with his wife, Marina. Eventually they began to perform at concerts in school, at church and for family events. The first stop forward as The Cartars was for the celebration of their mother's 50th birthday. By this time the three of them were quite proficient as musicians and vocalists, already impressing anyone hearing them.
In 2003 the brothers formed a band they in 2005 formally named Krash, creating and performing original alternative music. The band still exists although Dax and Philip are each involved in a number of projects.
Dax is also a member of the ska/roots-rock-reggae band Orange Sky, while Philip gigs with a number of bands including Dil-e-Nadan. At present he is also working on his debut CD collection alongside Marie-Angelique who herself is a lead vocalist with the band 4G. She also performs in casinos from time to time.
Life changed forever in 2005 when Lloyd Cartar succumbed to cancer and if that was not devastating enough for the family, Dax was involved in a near fatal vehicular accident. The family, however, rallied and moved ahead.
"Our mother has been very supportive of our music and she is always there with us putting things in place and making things happen. When our father died she did not say, well money is tight now so we have to stop the music and go get jobs. She let us continue doing what we were. 2005 was a real terrible year for us and playing the music helped to make the bad times go away," Dax said.
Note, this is not a soca band that although things may be tough they will have the Carnival season to try and pick up some gigs or seek to head out to the other Carnivals out there. It's even harder for The Cartars to secure regular gigs to live off of this. Hence the additional freelancing jobs and other projects including teaching music. It really is not an easy road, but for this family the journey is all worth it and every experience they have out there they apply it to the group.
"Singing in the casinos is very humbling. Being there it teaches you how to quietly force people to take notice of your performance. Sometimes you are performing and there is so much going on all around that you wonder why am I up here. It can be hard. There is so much talent in Trinidad it is mind-blowing and it is just so hard to break through. But everything we experience is making us stronger as a group and as a family," Marie-Angelique said.
The Cartar Family in April performed at a charity event at Shakers on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, where CEO of Angostura Limited, Robert Wong heard them and was impressed. He invited them to perform at the recent Angostura Legacy charity auction and gala dinner at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port of Spain. They delivered a superb performance, which introduced them to a new following. Things are looking up for the trio and they continue to give thanks to the people they say have been there for them through the years.
"God has always provided for us and has also brought good people to us. Mr Wong is very supportive and Angostura has already done a lot including purchasing a guitar and wireless microphone system. Then there is Mr Anthony De Silva from Look Optical who assists us and even took his personal money and bought a very expensive guitar for Dax along with providing us with eye care." said Philip .
"There is Miss Rosemarie Duff from Fatima College who did a promotional write-up for us to send out and Mr Greg Norman who assists us and other people who have come along and supported us. Our mother is with us, working hard so we can do what we really love so much. Our father knew what he was doing when he forced us to go music lessons," Philip said.