Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 25th 2017 Contents B4 sunday arts
guardian.co.tt Sunday, June 25, 2017
Jillia's dazzling debut
STORY AND PHOTO
BY PAULA LINDO
Singer and dancer Jillia Cato's
debut concert, Jillia in Concert,
was a mix of original songs and
covers chosen to show off the
songbird's range of musical
ability. The concert, the sec-
ond event in the recently con-
cluded Pride Arts Festival 2017,
was presented by I Am One T&T
on June 3 at the Big Black Box,
Cato has been singing since age
12, beginning in church and moving
on to local open mic forums. She did
her first small acoustic set at Kaiso
Blues Café in 2015, as part of the
Unplugged and Chill series host-
ed by Yung Rudd and Mark Hardy.
Cato dances with soca bands Machel
Montano HD and Kes the Band and
has a BFA in performing arts as well
as a BSc in engineering.
Cato said she chose the songs in
the concert to tell a story of love,
loss and strength. Her opening song,
Bruno Mars' 24K Magic, provided a
smooth, upbeat start to the concert,
with Cato channelling Tina Turner
as she danced across the stage.
Cato's first original song in the
set, Excited, was written when in-
spiration struck after a dance per-
formance. It talks about the thrill of
being on stage. Kes the Band key-
boardist Mario "Im4rio" Callender
produced the track; Im4rio sang
along with Cato during the song's
performance. Im4rio then sang
Something So Real, a song he wrote
and produced along with Cato.
Her cover of Lost Boy by Ruth B,
which opened the second half of the
concert, gave Cato an opportunity
to introduce herself and chat with
the audience. She said the song told
the story of someone who feels lost
and has to find a happy place within
Her original song Ceramic Heart,
a mixture of R&B and soft rock,
spoke about finding sweet love,
while Stay the Night, reminiscent
of TLC's Creep, was the story of a
couple spending the night together
for the first time. As the relationship
story continued, So Hot spoke of the
pain of a breakup and the final song,
Mystery of Love, was about taking
revenge and finding the strength to
move on with life.
Cato was backed by vocalists
Anton Berryman and Nnukeisha
"Nix" Pierre, lead guitarist Miguel
Charles, guitarists Kemi Ible and
Hadassah Esther Bovell, SASS bass-
ist Candice Marcus and drummer
Kyle Samlalsingh. Dancers Jonatha
Sutherland and Lucette Regis of 6th
Position Dance Co also performed
in the show.
Jazz singer Tevin R Gall and vocal-
ist Kevin Humphrey were the show's
Cato is planning another full band
concert at MovieTowne Fiesta Plaza
and to finish an album of songs.
If you've been to Queen's Hall
in the last 20 years, more than
likely you've seen a lighting de-
sign made by lighting designer
and technician Knolly Whiskey.
Whiskey has been at Queen's
Hall for the last 38 years, begin-
ning as assistant electrician and
retiring as senior lighting tech-
nician this June.
Whiskey began his career working
on the Queen's Park Savannah stage
in 1975, when his father sent him to
work with the foreman there, Ralph
"Socks" Coker, when he expressed
an interest in electricity. After blow-
ing up a fuse in a dramatic initial en-
counter with the element, Whiskey
went to trade school and graduated
In 1979, he took up an offer to
work at Queen's Hall made by the
then head electrician, Carlton Jo-
seph, and began work immediately.
It was here that master lighting de-
signer George Williams introduced
him to the beauty of lighting design.
His first experience creating a light-
ing design on his own was for The
Love Movement chorale in 1984.
"Mr Williams took a backseat be-
cause we had a new lighting console
and he was very old-school, so he
told me to go ahead. I lit that show
and it was so exciting, it pushed me
to do many other productions. I used
to get butterflies in the beginning
but now I realise that even if a lamp
blows or a cue doesn't run when it's
supposed to, the audience doesn't
know any different."
Whiskey said he worked his way
up through the ranks at Queen's Hall
through the years, lighting perfor-
mances for Best Village, Music Fes-
tival, operas and others.
"I lived through six or seven gov-
ernment changes and managers and
board changes while I was here and
it was very exciting. What I look at
is the transition, what has happened
since I came here in 1979 and those
changes, and the development of
Queen's Hall, I was so proud to be
part of that."
After about a decade and a half
working at Queen's Hall, Whiskey
wanted to study with theatre prac-
titioner Benny Gomes at Northern
Illinois University but could not get
permission from the board since he
was employed as an electrician and
not a lighting designer.
When UTT hired Gomes and
he moved back to T&T, he called
Whiskey. "Knolly," Whiskey recalls
Gomes saying, "I am here, you don't
have to go anywhere, the university
is offering the same course."
Whiskey entered UTT in 2010 and
did a four-year degree, graduating
with a BFA in the performing arts
with specialisation in theatre design
and production, Magna Cum Laude.
In 2015, he did an MA in Carnival
studies under Dr Hollis "Chalkdust"
Liverpool, graduating in 2016.
Whiskey is known as the Bird,
because he is unafraid of climb-
ing to the heights needed to be an
electrician in the theatre. His pas-
sion for his work and for lighting
design, which he describes as a
labour of love because it is unpaid,
show through in his demeanour. He
has won three Cacique Awards for
Most Outstanding Lighting Design---
in 1999 for Tony Hall's Red House
Fire! Fire!; 2005 for the 3Canal Show
Jack in the Box; and 2006 for the
3Canal Bacchanal Show.
Now that he has retired Whis-
key longs to become a teacher, as
he wants to pass his knowledge
on to the next generation. "There
aren't many people who want to be
electricians and lighting designers.
I think it's a lack of the drive and
people like myself to drill it into the
youth to look at the theatre as an
option because you can earn money." Knolly Whiskey retired as the Queen's Hall's senior lighting technician this
June. PHOTO COURTESY STEPHENSON WESTFIELD
After 38 years a
theatre light retires
His passion for his
work and for lighting
design, which he
describes as a labour
of love because it is
unpaid, show through
in his demeanour.
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