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Despite the cancellation of the Saint Lucia 2020 carnival season, the ever-enterprising Zinaida McNamara-Phillip has added the title of Executive Producer to her list of business ventures, with her involvement in the production of the Big Mood Riddim. The riddim, which was released in June and features Shemmy J, Jadel, V’ghn, Skinny Fabulous and Hollywood HP, was built by Miguel Joseph of Vibez Productionz.
McNamara-Phillip already has a full plate, which includes her law practice, carnival band and family. However, she said that this year presented a “unique opportunity” to get involved in the family business of which her husband, International Stephen, is at the forefront.
“We were home in the quarantine and Stephen was playing a lot of the beats he would have received from various producers, and the Big Mood Riddim was one that I fell in love with from the beginning. I asked him about it, and he mentioned that it was a Lucian producer that built it. Once I heard that, I became very interested,” she explained to Soca News.
After signing on as Executive Producer, the quest to find artists to record tracks began. McNamara-Phillip was in a strong position, with connections to the soca music scene as well as her husband’s credits on smash hits such as Famalay and Conch Shell. However, she revealed that some artists who had agreed to record demos were forced to pull out due to other commitments.
Fortunately, others whom she approached, such as Skinny Fabulous, who she describes as ‘family’, jumped at the opportunity. “When it came to Skinny, he was available and he enjoyed it after we sent him the riddim,” she said. “V’gn, who my husband manages; he heard it and really liked it as well. He’s really big on writing, and he came back really quickly with a song and a demo.”
“I wanted to represent for my Lucians, so I thought that Shemmy J would have been perfect for it because of the groove the riddim has. He has an Afro-Soca vibe, and I really like the diversity in his voice and his ability to put a unique twist on things.
“After I did the three guys, I said ‘Wait a minute, I need a girl tune.’ Being a young lady who is big on independence, I had to consider who would be best. Stephen is close with Jadel’s manager and I looked at her recent songs and I said ‘Yeah, she would be great for the track’”. The final collaboration burgeoned at a small quarantine listening party, when Hollywood HP heard the tracks and asked to be a part of project.
McNamara-Phillip said that she’s enjoyed her experience of being one of the few women involved with the back-end of the soca industry. She revealed to Soca News that she plans to work with her husband on future projects.
With so much on the go, one might ask how she finds balance. McNamara-Phillip explained, “It can sometimes become very overwhelming. If Carnival had not been cancelled, I would have been stressed right now. But I have an amazing team, and I am grateful for their assistance. And of course my husband; he helps me, and always makes sure I have a little dinner at night. Stephen has always told me, just try to find balance, and he has been very instrumental in my finding time to do anything.”
McNamara-Phillip also revealed there have been talks about salvaging Saint Lucia Carnival by going virtual. She expressed her willingness to support anything to, “maintain a presence and keep the cultural element of things alive.” She, however, has her eyes set on 2021 to do things bigger, despite any changes and restrictions that may be implemented due to the pandemic.