David Kirton is a dynamic Barbadian; he is an international modern root and reggae singer and songwriter who plays guitar and keyboards.
His music is inspiring, and his sound is a blend of reggae, rock, and pop. Currently, David enjoys more international acclaim after winning in three categories at the Barbados Music Awards 2008.
Totally Barbados managed to catch David at his home in Barbados, where he lives with his wife and manager Noelle, and their four children.
David spends a lot of his time on tour with his Californian band ‘Modern Roots,’ and we were keen to find out what inspires this talented musician and what drives his music.
David’s first album ‘Stranger‘ was released in 1998 and saw early success when it was picked up by RAS Records in the USA, one of the top reggae labels globally, who immediately signed him.
This made David only the second artist signed by them, not from Jamaica. Rolling Stone Magazine then declared him as Best New Act at Modern Cannes.
In 2000, his second album ‘Modern Roots‘ was released, now under his own music label Birdseye Music Inc; on this album, he worked in Jamaica with producer Mickey Bennett and recorded the album in the private Bob Marley studios – Tuff Gong.
In 2003 ‘Island Songs for Children‘ came out, which was inspired by telling his children bedtime stories; he would make up stories involving local aspects of life, which his children loved.
He then turned these stories into songs and recorded an album, this was then heard by the toy manufacturer, Fisher-Price, who then commissioned the album for their FP3 player, and now children from all over the world can download the tracks.
In 2007, ‘Time for change‘ was released, and this album has led to David being a semi-finalist in the international songwriting competition.
His label has recently signed a digital deal-making Kirton’s entire catalog on major music download sites like iTunes and Napster.
David is very keen on making video’s to accompany his music, which is aired on the Barbadian TV station CBC TV8 and regional Caribbean music shows such as Roamin’ and MTV’s Tempo.
So far, he has made award-winning videos for three of his singles and has worked with international music video producers. He won Best Music Video Male at the Barbados Music Awards 2008 for ‘Green Camouflage.’ This video also features South by South West 2007, which is the most prestigious emerging act festival in the world.
The ‘Time for Change‘ video was directed and shot by Tom Krueger, who won a Sundance and two Pulitzer prizes for film and was the Director of photography for the film ‘U2 in 3D’.
The ‘Free to Fly‘ video featured David’s personal friend CSI star and musician Gary Dourdan, who can be seen in the video on upright bass and drums. Gary can also be heard rapping poetry on David’s single ‘Sugar‘ from the ‘Time for Change’ album.
David grew up in Maxwell, Christ Church on the south coast of Barbados with is parents Owen & Dorothy Kirton, and his brother Adrian.
He attended Foundation School and gave his first-ever performance aged twelve with some school friends on a radio show hosted by Auntie Olga on Rediffusion, now Starcom Network.
David laughs as he recalls that they sang ‘I’m your puppet‘ and ‘By the rivers of Babylon.’
By the time he was eighteen, he had teamed up with some of the same school friends and formed a band; they recorded four tracks together and were encouraged that other friends said they sounded like they were fresh out of Jamaica.
However, this taste of the music business was short-lived as his friends left Barbados, and it was another few years before he officially launched his career.
His family all likes to sing, and his father and uncles have been in numerous choirs, but he is the first member of the Kirton family to sing professionally.
He says his family was very uncertain about whether being a musician was actually a career and wasn’t sure that he could manage to support his family and pay the bills!
David has remained focused and driven throughout his musical career and has proved to his family that being a musician is actually quite lucrative.
David writes the majority of his music himself but is always interested when approached by other songwriters. Everyday events inspire his music, and he finds his creative juices really flow when he is at one with nature.
The Caribbean as a whole heavily influences his musical style, and he finds Barbados gives him a vision. He realizes that Barbados is one of the most privileged of the Caribbean islands, giving him a positive outlook on life.
He says, “Tourists ask me all the time – how can people live in little chattel houses and be smiling all the time? This has made me realize what a special nation we are, which inspires me to write about that in my music”.
He loves all types of music but is particularly inspired by Reggae, Cuban, African, R&B, and some modern Jazz. When he listens to music, his favorite artists are Bob Marley, Mary J Blige, and Sade.
Besides music, David likes to spend his free time riding his bike, kayaking, or surfing – he loves the ocean and enjoys most water sports. When he wants to relax and unwind, he likes to potter around the garden and enjoys growing his own vegetables.
David gave fans a rare treat for the winter 07/08 season in Barbados by performing on Thursday evenings at Jumbies in St. Lawrence Gap. This has delighted tourists who wanted to take his unique sound home with them as his music is available to buy at the venue and can also be bought through CRS Music and all record stores in Barbados.
The Internet has played a huge role in marketing David’s career, and his Bajan team spends their days not only managing his career and bookings but updating his web sites – www.davidkirton.com, http://www.youtube.com/DavidKirton, www.myspace.com/davidkirton and David Kirton on Facebook.
The Barbados Music Awards (BMA’s) were launched in 2006, and at this first event, David won a cornerstone award for his contribution to reggae music.
At the 2007 BMA’s, David was nominated for Best Music Video Male for the single ‘Time for change‘ and nominated as Best Reggae Artiste.
But for 2008, David wasn’t just nominated at the BMA’s; he was finally a winner picking up an award for Best Reggae Single – Male with his song ‘Green Camouflage,’ which was also nominated as Song of the Year.
He also won Reggae Artist of the Year and Best Music Video Male.
He was also nominated for Entertainer of the Year – Male, Album of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.
David said, “Wow, we have come a long way. I have been performing in Barbados for many years, and it feels like a real accomplishment to have won at home. The amount of publicity that these awards have generated is priceless, and I have a lot to thank Rhianna for – she has put Barbados on the map musically.”
David has toured with his band ‘Modern Roots’ for the last seven years with acts such as Maxi Priest, Culture, Third World, and Steel Pulse and performing solo shows and tours.
For 2008 David has a busy schedule with a performance at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show and a full agenda for gigs in London in May, a Canadian tour, and regional and international festival bookings.
When asked if Barbados will remain his home, he is quick to answer yes! He says, “Barbados is my inspiration, I love to perform overseas to different types of audiences, and we spent nearly two years on tour in California, but I always like to keep Barbados as my base to come back to. I love Barbados as I love nature, and here it seems like all the elements are magnified – the sky is huge, there are millions of stars, and Ocean surrounds us.”
David is quite well-traveled; however, there are a few countries and continents that he would like to visit, and they are South America, Africa, and Asia, and he hopes that one day his career might take him to them.
Totally Barbados asked David which venue would he most like to play in the world and who he would like on stage with him, to which David replied, “Wembley Stadium in London would be cool with Rhianna and Sade!”
But as a short-term goal by this time next year, David hopes to be back in the studio in Barbados recording his new album.
We asked David where he would recommend as a must-see place in Barbados, and he said, “Bathsheba – it is where I go to write, the place is very inspiring and still overwhelms me after all these years.”
Author: Brett Callaghan