‘Soca Drives Me’ – Article Featuring Imani Ray in the Trinidad & Tobago News Day Publication

Different things send people along different paths in life. For Imani “Imani Ray” Patterson, it took the loss of her father to turn her on to a career in soca.

The US-based singer used the indigenous music to help her heal.

But soca has always been a part of her life. Whether it was from the influence of her Cuban/American father Michael Patterson, her Trini mother Roxanne James, or DJ uncles, Imani Ray grew up around music. Her great grandfather Stephen “Mighty Pye” Solomon would compose music, write songs and compete in calypso competitions.

Music has always been a big part of Imani Ray’s household especially during cleaning.

Although she began expressing her creativity through dance when she was five, Imani Ray found, especially after her father’s death, that dancing did not bring her “the joy it used to.”

So she turned to music as an outlet to find her happiness again. Soca gave her a feeling she could not find in anything else.

So at 18 she began singing, and has been doing it for the past seven years.

Imani Ray’s first song was called Break Away, which she defined as her “trial and error” song. It was her first time ever recording a song and “it was a learning experience with everything, from recording to writing to finding melodies and learning about little things like mixing and mastering.”

While Imani Ray could have decided to pursue a career in any genre, she chose soca, since “with soca I feel like you can really feel the music…The music really drives you, compared to other genres.”

An integral part of her upbringing was regular visits to TT. Through interacting with her grandfather, Joseph Solomon and other people here, she would learn a lot about the country.

Since she came to TT this year, Imani Ray has been to prisons, volunteering her time and talent for inmates. She has performed at the Women’s Prison, Youth Training Centre, Carrera Island Prison, the Maximum Security Prison and the Port of Spain Prison.

She first performed at the 2016 Great Fete weekend in Tobago, “a frightening experience, but also good at the same time.” It was frightening because she felt she only had one chance to please the public but it turned out to be completely different from what she was expecting.

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