Abroneka is aiming to become R&B royalty
Unknown girl group Abroneka wants to become a household name, but they won’t sing soca. They have been writing, rehearsing, and perfecting their harmonizing skills for over seven years, now, they’re being shopped to US record labels and are banking on becoming Trinidad’s first R&B export.
The kids-from-the tough-inner-city-with dreams-of-stardom storyline is a familiar script. The reason Abroneka’s first chapter is worth your attention is largely due to the credibility of the accomplished team that grooms their sultry vocals, arranges their music, and polishes their tracks. Champion Sound Studios has mastered Road March and Soca Monarch-winning tracks for Machel Montano, Iwer George, Fay-Ann Lyons, JW & Blaze, and Shurwayne Winchester, while patiently preparing to introduce Abroneka to the North American market.
METRO went in studio with Crissy Abigail Fraser, 23, Rhonda Bobb, 26, and Kandis Dyer, 28, before they set off on their version of an Olympic quest to earn platinum and popularity. A chance meeting in 2005 on the set of Synergy Friday Night Live brought the trio together. After each girl displayed her vocal chops, Rhonda secretly noted who she would team up with to form a group. “Then I took a breath and popped the question: Allyuh want to start a group?!” Junior Lewis coached and produced them, then brought Abroneka to Martin Raymond at Champion Sound Studios. Abigail says Albert Bushe, their former vocal trainer, called their sound “soca pop, a mixture of R&B, soca and dance music.” That was 7 years ago. Today, the tracks they have shipped to US record labels are strictly in the R&B and dance genres.
What will distinguish Abroneka from EnVogue, Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child is yet to be determined. At the moment it’s not lyrical content. Abigail, Rhonda and Kandis summarize that though their ballads are sung with vibrancy, they tend to write about “heartbreak, a first time crush, and bad experiences.” But for good measure, they paired an uplifting message with an upbeat tempo for a track titled “Dancefloor Ain’t Gonna Be Lonely”.
Abigail and Kandis hail from the Beetham, and Rhonda is from Maraval. By day they’re retail sales clerks. But when dusk descends they’re in the studio breathing life into their lyrics. They’re disciplined and determined to realize a musician’s ultimate dream. “We all come from a musical family, it’s in our blood,” shares Rhonda. “The area where I grew up is a bit hostile,” explains Abigail, “there is a lot of heartbreak, a lot of poverty, a lot of negativity that could make you either go negative or positive. I take [all that] and use it as a positive and write a way that people can get out of it.”
Their singles “Close Your Eyes” and “I Like It with the Lights On” are destined to attract contracts and airtime in America’s key urban markets. To get Abroneka in the mood to convert lyrics into groovy tracks simply requires a beat. “When we hear a beat we flow with it,” shares Abigail. When arranger Gregg Assing played a beat for the girls, they instinctively felt it was “sexy, nice” and directed them to close your eyes. “We started harmonizing, once you have the feeling the words flow,” adds Rhonda.
When they attain success they have another mission: “My community made me grow up to be a very headstrong young lady,” admits Abigail. “I want to give back educationally.” To become recording champions representing T&T, Abroneka dismisses the “comfort zone” mindset they say Trinis enjoy, and embraces the Jamaican hunger to win. “They [Jamaicans] push harder, they really fight for what they believe in, what they want they really go for it,” asserts Abigail. “There is talent here, not just soca and wining. They can write, produce, sing any kind of music…they have the talent, they just don’t have the hunger the Jamaicans do.” Yet, Abroneka will fly the Trinbagonian flag when they mount that Grammy Awards podium.
© SEAN DRAKES
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