How one man made the leap from the corporate world to the musical theatre stage.

It’s always fascinating how, in a room full of faces, one can never imagine the stories behind each. Seated in a popular coffee shop in Port of Spain, Kyle Richardson revealed many details of a musical journey that has covered miles, leading him to become one of Trinidad and Tobago’s young talents to keep an eye on. “I was in a choir initially, which started when I was about 16. I moved over into musical theatre about four years ago. My recent musical endeavour is a band, The Flick, which I joined about a year ago,” he said. The group does what is generally called island pop, a mixture of soca, reggae and summer pop.

“I was known for doing all the musical extra-curricular activities in high school. I was always out of class doing some sort of musical something. My teachers at CIC figured when I wasn’t in class, I was off doing something related to music—and they never questioned it, thank God,” he said. “Besides drama—which drew me to musical theatre—the only other thing I would do outside the realm of creating music was anything with computers.” But creating musical magic was his passion since childhood, before he knew that “passion” was the word for how he felt. Raised by a Jamaican father and Trinbagonian mother, both lovers of music, he thanks his parents for his eclectic style and the wide range of music to which he was exposed.

After graduating with an honours degree in Information Technology at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, followed by working in a large multi-national company, he knew this was but a chapter in an ever-evolving story. Balancing a corporate job with his passion often left him running on fumes, and so, 25-year-old Richardson recently took a leap of faith to pursue his passion full-time—an act that takes a tremendous amount of bravery and confidence, fuelled by an unwavering drive to fulfil his dream. 

“The breakthrough point was when I started getting paid gigs and they liked me, and it has become steady. That steady income made me realise I could leave the corporate world and focus on my music.” This solidified and increased the confidence he found when he auditioned for Simba in The Lion King. Even though he didn’t get the part, one of the main international judges commended him on his great talent, saying the reason he did not get the part was merely aesthetic, due to his relatively smaller frame—but he had the talent it takes to make an impact. “It is different from getting feedback from your parents and loved ones,” he said. Within a month of leaving corporate, his first solo show at Movie Towne came into fruition, which truly felt like a success. He also performed as Tony in a recent staging of West Side Story, and varying events. Richardson’s creative versatility allows him to make an impact in a wide range of spaces—to permeate spaces beyond the socially created boxes within which many young artistes find themselves.

His band is working on releasing a collection of original music, and he hopes within a year they will gain greater following and recognition in T&T. In five years, he sees the band touring. Otherwise, he sees himself taking another leap to establish a place on international stages. This he thinks may happen if T&T doesn’t redirect some of its resources into feeding the creative industries. “We don’t have a proper system in place for young artistes. We’ve always been focused on oil and gas, while entertainment can be one of the richest industries. Even with NAPA, most graduates end up teaching, coupled with unpaid gigs, until an opportunity presents itself.”

 

Richardson said another unfortunate fact of the music industry in T&T is that older artistes are not as open to assisting young artistes. “For a young artiste to become part of the network with older ones is almost impossible.” He believes with this generation of technology and social media mavens and mishaps, it is of greater importance for the talent management industry to broaden—an industry most ideal for guiding young artistes as they pursue their dreams. 

With a voice that gives you goose bumps and a humble personality laced with a confidence he attributes to the love and support of his parents, band members and friends, there is no doubt that there is much more to hear from Kyle Richardson.

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