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New Series Promises 'Real' V.I. TV

Sept. 27, 2006 Ever wonder what really goes on behind the scenes in a TV show — not one of those made-for-TV reality network shows, but the real thing? The territory will have its answer the beginning of 2007 with "The Studio."
Conceived, produced and acted by real people, the show will include V.I. musicians or would-be musicians, as well as the producers, camera crew and anyone else within the camera's view.
"In fact," TV 2 executive producer Brent Butler said at a Tuesday morning press conference, "there is nothing scripted; this is being taped right now for our first show."
Butler added, "Caribbean music is huge in the states right now. The timing is exciting. It's a unique opportunity for young people to see what it takes to get into the music business."
The series, scheduled for a 13-week run, will follow a "day in the life" of a prospective performer. The audience will witness the growth and development of raw talent into a professional artist, from the moment he walks into the studio.
A partnership between Island Sound Works (ISW) and TV2, "The Studio" is tentatively scheduled for a January debut. Dan McGuinness and Derrick Moore, ISW's president and general manager, respectively, talked about their inspiration for the series. Moore said the seed was planted earlier this year when ISW worked with Project Safe Neighborhoods in a contest to find local talent while delivering a positive message aimed at ending gun violence. Entrants were asked to compose a song with a message against gun crime.
"The idea came out of that experience," Moore said. He and McGuinness have worked closely together after combining talents in a recording studio about a year or so ago. "Derrick and I are joined at the soul," McGuinness said (See "@Work: Island Sound Works").
If the musicians present Tuesday morning — all ISW artists — are any indication, the sense of connectedness extends throughout the studio. A handful of the artists talked about their experiences and their music, after they stepped out of the glaring TV lights where they had been posed. They were a relaxed, happy group.
"We are used to being in front of people," said 20-year-old soprano Michael Stephens, a member of the a popular a cappella quartet All The Way, whom the producers described as "the heartthrobs of the community." The four are young: alto Kyle Francis is 17; tenor Jahmal Parris is 18; and bass Bernard Douglas is 20.
Doyle Van Horn, of the Four Horsemen, looked happy just to be there. "There's lots of magic in this," he said. Van Horn is a singer/songwriter. According to McGuinness, Van Horn is sort of the odd man out in this group, which is mainly R & B, reggae, rap, calypso, hip-hop and gospel. "His music is like a cross between the Eagles and very contemporary music. It's thought provoking."
Mc Guinness is more than happy with his artists. "We're lucky with the guys we are signing to the label. You get to know what wonderful young men they are personally. Every one of these guys, I like."
Moore asks a shy-looking young man if he would sing something impromptu. Keshawn V. Callwood (aka FP, for Full Package) readily agrees. No longer shy, he finishes a mouthful of soda and sandwich and starts in:
If you care, please put your guns down
If you killed your brother
What would happen to his mother?
She will cry from morning to sundown
Please, please, put your guns down.
FP sings in a soft voice, which gains power with its message. He is utterly serious. His plea is from his current album, Brother, which has been called a "gut-wrenching look at the results of mindless violence."
He's been singing ever since he can remember. "From about the second grade, I think," he said. "I've no idea I just always sang."
Other ISW artists, Of God and Jah-Fiya were also present Tuesday.
How would an aspiring artist go about appearing on the show? Moore said, "They should mail a demo to us, and we will critique it." Further information is available at the ISW website.
What will the first show be like? "We can't say because we don't know ourselves," said Moore. "We don't know how it's going to unfold."
Also on board to produce the series is 27-year old Ryan Watts, who, in his few years, has produced the award-winning TV2 program Video Vibe. "We'll be on the show, too," Watts said. He and Moore will be principal characters in the series.
Along with being carried locally, Butler says he is in talks to get the show carried on stateside networks.
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