therapy presents: the island stage | sxsw 2021

therapy presents: the island stage | sxsw 2021

The Island Stage is a platform dedicated to bringing music of the Caribbean to the forefront of the international music scene. Pioneered by rising artist Kalpee who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, and his manager Miss Vivianna of Therapy, the aim was to create a platform for Caribbean artists to come together and showcase their musical heritage. THERAPY.XYZ is a brand new series of boutique wellness and soul repairing events such as Music Festivals, Charity Events and Wellness Retreats & Seminars, which will take place in locations across the world that naturally promote healing.

On Friday March 19, I was introduced to a music showcase treat – Therapy presents ‘The Island Stage’. ‘The Island Stage’ has a mission to promote West Indian artists on the world stage. This first time entry streamed exclusively to SXSW and provided an hour packed with talented musicians, live from Hope Gardens, in Kingston, Jamaica.

First up was Mortimer, who sang an acoustic three-song set. ‘Careful’ was a blend of Caribbean rhythms and cautionary tale lyrics. This one easily segued into ‘Fight the Fight’ which also featured haunting lyrics. ‘Lightning’ is a love song written for his wife and three kids, and it was easily my favorite because of the emotion that Mortimer has in his voice.  He definitely set the bar high for those artists who would come after him.

Khalia was next on the bill and she also provided an acoustic set. Her two songs, both released in 2020, were the perfect showcase for her incredible voice. ‘Love is Real’ had more of a rock sensibility but smooth vocals. ‘Easy’ was a song that made me dance in my chair! The island beat was hard to resist.

The third artist was Sevana. You may have heard her on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concert – she performed with a full band on that platform and acoustically for the SXSW stage. It was a real treat to hear the stripped-down versions of songs from NPR. The four-song set was bookended with ‘Blessed’ and ‘Mango’. ‘Blessed’ starts out slow like a torch song and builds to use the full range of Sevana’s voice. ‘Mango’ is a love song with irresistible lyrics and an unforgettable melody.

Tessellated was a complete departure from the earlier three acts in that he was backed with a full band, including horns. His songs were hip hop with a Reggae beat. You may have heard ‘I Learnt Some Jazz Today’ in an Apple commercial, but the full-length song is a jazz and island blend. Very fun! ‘Pine & Ginger’ and ‘Tropics’ also possessed Tessellated’s own original stamp of mixed genres.

Rounding out the showcase was Kalpee, who was doing triple duty for the ‘The Island Stage’. In addition to performing, he was hosting the event and is one of the pioneers of ‘The Island Stage’ with his manager Miss Vivianna of FVP Global. With a message of “music is medicine”, the Trinbagonian artist capped the night with a set that included ‘Water Flowing’ and ‘Put a Record On’. His songs have a pop energy with a Caribbean flavor, but I feel like he could sing just about any song with his voice quality. So very emotive.

I hope that this is not the only time Therapy presents a showcase. The artists that were highlighted show such range and variety. I loved this entire showcase. I will definitely keep these artists on my radar when their new music comes out.