Garvie Griffith is a 27-year-old singer songwriter from Barbados. He is the lead singer in Roadhouse, Barbados’ leading rock band and performs across the island as a solo act.
Garvie is currently working on his debut album and TotallyBarbados.com caught up with him to find out what motivates this talented individual.
Garvie is the youngest son of Guy & Pansy Griffith; he grew up with his only brother Grae in the Chancery Lane area on the south coast of Barbados before moving to the Bannatyne area. He attended St. Gabriel’s School and then Harrison College before studying for his degree in Graphic Design in Miami, Florida, USA.
He comes from a very musical family with his mother being a great singer, his father playing guitar and his brother playing classical violin. He started to play guitar from the age of seven and took guitar lessons for four years. By the age of eleven had developed the ability to play songs from the radio by ear. He also plays bass guitar, drums and piano.
He remembers walking past the music room at school and hearing his friend Alex Cummins playing acoustic guitar and singing. He said, “That was an inspirational moment for me, I went home and started to write my own music.”
Garvie and his family attended the Providence Methodist Church in the parish of Christ Church and he used to love singing there, then his first performance was at school in Music 100. He says his family has definitely influenced his musical style as he was raised listening to country and western singers such as Jim Reeves, Charlie Pride, Hank Williams, Martin Robins and Creedence Clearwater Revival. His mother has been a great help to him offering inspiration and his father has provided a great deal of support.
When he was thirteen he started his own band at school called ‘Untitled’. They performed at the National Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) for 5 years in a row, culminating with a performance at Jazz on the Hill in 1998. He is grateful to his guitar teacher for four years of knowledge, his bandleader at Jazz on the Hill, Roger Gittens and his music teacher at school Janice Millington.
When he went to University in Florida to study he formed a band there called ‘Life Strung’, which became very popular and they toured around the state performing in Fort Lauderdale and Hollandale. They were asked by the Bob Marley Foundation to perform at Bob Marley’s birthday tribute at the Hard Rock Café in Miami for two years in a row.
Garvie then returned home to Barbados in 2003 when his studies were complete. He was asked to be a backing singer with Kite as a full band, and was then asked to become the lead singer in Roadhouse in 2005, where he still performs today. In 2006, he teamed up with his old school friend Alex Cummins and together they made up the duo ‘Garlex’. Now Garvie has decided to embark on a solo career and is half way through his debut album.
He writes all his own music and his musical style and taste is not what you would expect from a black West Indian with dreadlocks! He says, “People look at me and expect that I am going to play reggae or calypso and are often shocked to hear me play some of my favourite artists such as Tracy Chapman, Smashin Pumpkins, Bob Dylan or Harry Chaplin.” His original material is acoustic folk rock. He thinks that growing up Barbados has given his music a certain Caribbean air, however his musical style isn’t predominately Barbadian.
He says he loves all types music and takes inspiration from all. He feels compelled to write when he is affected by something profound happening in his life, whether it be happy or sad and says this is reflected in his music either being upbeat or down tempo. He says that he lets life experiences do the writing for him.
Garvie has some major plans for 2008, which includes a tour in the UK, Europe and Canada. He has already performed for the last three years at the Bequia Music Festival. He would like to remain in Barbados and always keep this as his home but he is anxious to get on tour and perform overseas. When asked if there are any countries in particular he would like to visit, he just laughs and said, “I want to see the rest of the world”. He would also like to perform at the Sydney Opera House and hopes that one day he might get to perform with Jack Johnson and Ben Harper.
In his spare time he likes to write songs, compose music, watch movies, play video games and play guitar. You can see him perform on a Thursday night at McBride’s in St. Lawrence Gap, on a Friday night at Surfer’s Café in Oistins and on a Saturday night at The Cocks Inn opposite Accra Beach.
Garvie would recommend the south coast for visitors to Barbados as he thinks there is a great nightlife and plenty of things to do. He says he loves Barbados, as it is his home but also because of the warm weather and the great camaraderie amongst the people.
Author: Brett Callaghan