Kevin Lyttle                                                             
 

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Following the success of his debut single 'Turn Me On', Kevin Lyttle talks to 'The Situation' about his rise to fame and soon to be released album.

Caribbean music is dominating the charts. With artists ranging from Sean Paul to Wayne Wonder hitting the top 10 and artists like Elephant Man being played in mainstream clubs, the phenomenal rise of artists from the Caribbean to the mainstream would have been unimaginable a year ago! At Carnival 2003 one song was hitting the sound systems. This taste of Soca came from St Vincent’s Kevin Lyttle in the form of ‘Turn Me On’ – a party tune with a Soca sound tinged with dancehall and topped with Kevin’s infectious R&B vocals.

Walking into a seventh floor room of a Kensington hotel, Kevin was standing at the window admiring the view of a lit up London, where his debut single ‘Turn Me On’ had just entered the charts at no.2. With family in London this is not Kevin’s first time in the UK. “This is a big country. This is the Queen’s land, big royal buildings and structures and all of dat. It has good vibes… When asked whether he could live in England for good, he laughs and replies, "I like it here, but the Caribbean has it’s own unique thing... the sun shines all de time and I love the sunshine!” Speaking of his chart success, he explained, "Well yo it’s a feeling of relief, surprise, happiness and everything cumulated as one. I was in a recording studio in Miami when I heard, I was like ‘Number 2! Already?”

Although Kevin’s rise of success, seems to have come from nowhere, it’s not been without a lot of hard work. Kevin's musical beginnings came from his childhood; “I was always a deep lover of music, always singin. In school I got into dancing; being on stage, drama, playacting an’ all that kinda stuff.” It wasn’t long before ‘playacting’ turned into more. Reminiscing about the past, he continued, “After form four, I actually formed a group called 'Suade' . Back then we were loving Boyz II Men, so we did it for ‘de graduation. People loved us cos it was the first group of its kind so it was doing something that was unique.”

After completing school, the group slowly parted, each member pursuing their different career paths. Kevin himself did not head straight into a musical career. "I got into college and did electronic engineering, I got two passes in City and Guild. After that I started working as a radio announcer because at the time it was pretty difficult to get a job just coming out of school with no experience y’know. I did karaoke and MCing, then I got a job at the customs as a customs officer with the government of St Vincent and the Grenadine.” Having done a few songs for local carnivals on a non-professional level Kevin decided music was the route to take. “Finally, I said I’m in the customs and excise, but I really wanna sing. So I took the money that I had in the bank and I invested it in doing three songs, but I only did two. One of ‘dem was called ‘She got the Wind’ the other one was ‘Turn Me On’. When people heard ‘Turn Me On’ they were like that's unique, it sounds different. When it was finally released it just took the place by storm. I kinda pushed the other song aside as I had done it in a different voice."

Even before he was singed to a record label, Kevin was performing with acts such as Mr Cheeks and The Lost Boys in the Bahamas. It was a show in the United States which brought him to the attention of the major record labels, “I did this major show for a radio station in Rhode Island in New York City with 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Lil’ Kim, and Fabolous. I had about the same size response as '50'. First I heard them calling people like Lil’ Kim and all the other major artists and then I began hearing ‘Lyttle, Lyttle’, and these are 25,000 American people that came for the show. It was overwhelming! When I touched the stage it was the one song ‘Turn Me On’ I came to do. I walked on with some roses and I didn’t even have to sing the song! By the time I said ‘ Oh Yeah’ everybody was singing the words. I was up on the speaker boxes, having the time of my life. It was the one performance that got me to where I am. At that point, Sean Paul had the spotlight on Caribbean music and the American labels were looking for new talent. When they saw the crowd response, the doors had already been open for me."

Following the show, most of the major record labels started calling including Atlantic who went on to sign Kevin. Explaining the path he intends for the future of his music, he continued, “Well you see the thing is, I’m basically a Caribbean artist and dancehall music is a part of my culture, but Soca music is my culture. Dancehall and reggae is Jamaica’s culture, but Soca is the culture of almost every other island. It’s the music of the Ghetto of the poor people; so everybody relates to it. I see myself as a Soca artist but I venture into different levels of music. For example, I was always loving R&B, so that music influences me as well.”

Suggestions of collaboration with Sean Paul are not out of the question; “I really like his music and I think he really likes my music too. I mean me and him say ‘hello, how ya doing”, we talk when we do see each other, but we’ve never really discussed anything of the sort as yet.”

As for a follow up to ‘Turn Me On’ Kevin is hard at work on some new material; “I’m working on my album in Miami right now working with Salaam 'The Chameleon' Remi, who is one of the major producers in America, he did Nas’s album. The album is gonna be a nice smooth mixture, just like ‘Turn Me On’. It’s gonna have a Soca format, Soca rhythm, but then you’re gonna get a dancehall feel, an R&B feel, a lot of soul, y’know, a lot of Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson. That’s what made Caribbean music cross over, the fact that we are mixing music in with other peoples culture, so they can understand and relate to it. The album's gonna come out hopefully in January. I hope to make my success for it and to go further than ‘Turn Me On’. I don’t wanna be stuck as a one hit wonder, so I’m trying to create as much diverse material as possible.”

The one time customs officer has already got an illustrious music CV, having shared a stage with 50 and Lil’ Kim, and a single which has debuted at number 2, in the UK charts. His Carnival hit ‘Turn Me On’ has taken Soca to a whole new level. I left Kevin as another interviewer awaited. Despite his hectic schedule he appeared full of energy and enthusiasm, still smiling. The future looks bright for St Vincent’s Soca ambassador, with a song that has already been a smash on the global scene who knows where the album could take him.

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