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Cuba in Transition

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May 2019

Trinidad Focus: The new belles in town - Belle Republic

They are the hottest new music trio in today’s entertainment industry. Comprised of sisters Jenealle and Jeuelle Archer and close friend Gerelle Forbes, Belle Republic as they are professionally called are taking the music industry by storm. The sisters who reside in Bon Air Gardens have been immersed in music all of their lives. Like many music lovers, they began singing in their church choir with a dad who also sang and a mom who participated in many church plays. Forbes also had an early start in music.
“My teacher discovered I could sing in kindergarten and suggested that my parents take me to music lessons. I also met Esther Batson who recommended that I learn the violin so from there it was vocal training, violin and also pan.” Forbes, who is also a budding thespian, joined the Necessary Arts School and has trained with some of Trinidad’s most notable actresses and teachers. “Lydia Ledgerwood moulded me as a singer, Penelope Spencer as an actress and Naima Thompson taught me the technical part of putting on performances”, Forbes has also obtained a music certificate from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Music.

The Archer sisters however, both pursued degrees but still managed to stay within the music scene.
Jeanelle, who has completed her degree in Communications and Theatre at UWI, has done background vocals for the who’s who in the local music industry. “I did SoundStage a couple years ago and I met Omari (Kindred) and ended up doing background vocals with him.” From there she met Marlon Roach from MadMen Productions and continued to work with him. Her expansive vocal range opened the door for her to record and/or perform live with artistes such as Destra, Shadow, Iwer, Shal Marshall and Kerwin Dubois to name a few. Her sister Jeuelle, who pursued a degree in Social Studies at the University of the Southern Carib-bean (USC) used to join in her live performances on stage. Jenealle, the eldest of the group at 27, said she always wanted to create a powerful all girl group. “I liked the idea of creating harmonies and in a group you can do that. I also like the idea of sisterhood.” She fiercely pursued the idea, and with her sister, decided to look for a third member. “I wanted the person to be musically capable, committed to professionalism and the vision of our group which is to create music that is fun, clean and musically sound.”

The sisters met up with Forbes occasionally throughout the years and finally met again through the Festival Theatre Company at the University of the West Indies. Embodying the characteristics of the group, the contraltos Jenealle and Gerelle, and alto Jeuelle realised they created a unique blend. The group's name Belle Republic (Beautiful Republic) pays homage to T&T and the trio is adamant not to suffer the same fates of hackneyed girl groups in the music industry.  “I think it’s the personalities involved. We would all like to be bigger than just Trinidad and Caribbean. We want to be global!” said Forbes. The trio is also busy releasing music produced by MadMen Productions. They have already defined their own sound as a Caribbean Pop/R&B crossover and have secured the services of Think Stage Management. Their first music video The Avenue is a single that is currently generating buzz.
Written by Archer, The Avenue is a fresh sound with a funky beat that encapsulates the girl’s fun experiences on the Ariapita Avenue strip. Its local and international appeal has already piqued the interest of their Facebook fans and music enthusiasts. In an industry that is known to manufacture ‘talent’ and mask mediocre efforts by sexy marketing strategies, this nascent pop group is a breath of fresh air.

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Tags: belle republic, caribbean, janine and Janelle Xavier, music, trinidad


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