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Hot Seat - Percy Rankin

762_OnA_Hotseat~ Chanting with the stars ~

You'll know Percy Rankin in combination with the Bonfire Band; you'll have enjoyed him on stage at Sunset Beach Bar and Grill or you would have seen him at Karakter where he performs on occasion together with Connis Vanterpool. Percy has a fantastic, full voice, which is perfectly fit for the reggae songs he is well known to sing at all of his performances. He will totally captivate you with his warm personality, beautiful smile and spontaneous chanting to the tunes played by his host band.

Percy Rankin and Bonfire Band have opened for various international bands such as "Shaggy" and "Third World." This weekend, you will have the opportunity to enjoy Percy on Saturday at the Smooth Jazz concert at Karakter, with our island's most famous sax player Connis. The Smooth Jazz concerts takes place on Friday on the Boardwalk (guest still to be announced), Saturday at Karakter and Sunday at Privé with Essynce as special guest. Everybody is invited to attend any of the Smooth Jazz events over the weekend. Come out to enjoy great music over excellent food and drink.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born on the French side, St. Martin, and I grew up in Marigot near what people refer to as the ghetto. We played marbles, flew kites and would go to the junk site where people discarded their old cars and we'd play drum on the cars and create our own music. I come from a musical family; my father was a sax player and my uncle played base-guitar so I grew up amongst live music. It was just meant to be that I would become a musician.

Where did you go to school?

I went to school on the Dutch side. My mother is from Aruba and my father is from the French side; mothers rule, so I went to school on the Dutch side. I continued singing while going to school and, when I was 15, I was approached by a local band "Youth Waves" to join them at a music studio for a recording. I did and we recorded a single from a zouk song; we created a dancehall/zouk version in collaboration with Pascal Adams, I think I remember the song was called "Minette."

Where do you currently work? What is your profession?

Right now, I'm only doing music. I realize it's a luxury as an artist to only live off music. I have a number of regular gigs singing in restaurants and lounges. I play every Sunday at Sunset Beach Bar, Saturday at Blue Martini in Grand Case and Friday at 721 Scene.

You are a fantastic reggae artist. Where did you learn to sing?

I would like to say that my foundation is as a reggae dancehall artist. When I'm on the big stage, it's reggae all the way. However, when I'm performing at restaurants, my repertoire needs to be more all round; I play reggae, zouk, calypso, blues and some R&B. I do play mostly every musical instrument; however, I'm master to none.

I've seen you "chant" when performing; how did you learn to do that?

I think it found me. My mother started giving me cookies to sing at home, that's really how it started and it just continued. When we played music as kids, it was natural that I would take the lead singing.

Tell us a little about how your singing career started.

I started out working as a cook at Sunset Beach Bar, however, the owner said soon after: 'I'm pulling you out of the kitchen; I want you fulltime on the stage.' We started as a three-man band and the band has now grown into a full band with six performers: a keyboard player, a drummer, a base player, a guitar player, a percussionist and me the lead singer.

Besides performing, do you have any other hobbies or interests? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

Yes, I do. I play basketball and I love to watch nature programs such as Discovery, National Geographic, etc. I don't have that much time to watch TV, but when I do, I totally unwind. Music is definitely hobby number one; I'm fortunate to work at something I enjoy so much.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I'd really like to create some hit songs known to the world and tour the big countries out there; of course in the reggae/dancehall scene, but not necessarily limited to this.

Do you have any days off from work? What do you do on those days?

As it's slow, and restaurants are closed for the season, I have some down time now, which I get to enjoy with my family. In my free time, I write songs and work in the studio. I am currently working on my new single, soon to be released.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask? What would you serve them to eat?

I would invite President Obama, Bob Marley, Sarah Wescot-Williams and Arlene Hanson. I would ask them: "What would you like to see happen in the universe as a whole? What changes would you like to see to improve the global health, economy, etc.? I would serve them home grown and prepared ground provision, an assortment of Caribbean vegetables and fried fish, preferably Rock Hind.