The DNA of this talented 36-year-old is distinctly for the performing arts as he is the product of the artistic Carter family, originally of Barataria, including his uncles, George Carter of Los Alumnos parang group and iconic dancer Jeffrey Carter, now domiciled in Europe.
“With the foundation of my family it was only natural that I would pick up on the arts,” said Carter. “At about the age of 12 I picked up the cuatro and began playing some stuff.
This led me to join Los Alumnos de San Juan. I played with them for roughly two years, doing so up to the age of 14.” Carter then progressed to playing the guitar, teaching himself along the way.
At age 17, Carter migrated to New York. He said: “So after my CXC exams my brother Jason and I went there to meet my mother. In the States I did the routine teenage stuff, going to college and getting a job afterwards.” After being resident in the Big Apple for seven years, the lure of music pulled Carter back into its web.
“That’s when the music bug bit me,” he said, “and I started to frequent many lounges at which live bands performed. On specific nights, they would have open mic segments where musicians in the audience would be invited to perform a number. I grew addicted to that. I auditioned for American Idol in 2003 but only made it to the second round. It was a small stepping stone for me but I was determined to continue developing my craft as a vocalist and as a musician. That is when I began composing my own songs, with Jason.” Still resident in New York, Jason is popularly known as GBM Nutron.
Carter continued: “Jason and I continued in the music business beginning when we were still green in this business. We helped each other develop, growing together as artiste/musician.”
Carter and his brother recorded the single Celebrate Life in 2012, featuring Shal Marshall. He returned home to Trinidad to promote the song and decided to stay in Trinidad for two months. He said: “I did a lot of promotions, met a lot of people and did some networking during my time here. Then, Imij & Co was shopping around for a male lead vocalist. I landed the gig but had to return to New York. In July 2012, Imij leader Joey Ng Wai contacted me and suggested that I return to the band and do some collaborative work. To decide on Joey’s offer was a no-brainer. I returned and the experience has been a most wonderful one.”
Though still working with Imij & Co, Carter continued to do a lot of his own work, which landed him last September’s Kevon Carter Unplugged, an event which was immensely successful when held at Fiesta Plaza, in MovieTowne. “Prior to that Unplugged event, I had continued composing and performing my own material,” said Carter. “I do not consider myself a full-fledged soca artiste. I am just an artiste who strives to create good music that would be appreciated by audiences that want quality music.
“I think that our composers could do much better in terms of content. A lot of mediocre stuff is being accepted and labelled as the music of T&T. For many of our artistes, our music is just a seasonal hustle for a local and Caribbean audience. I could count on one hand the artistes who are doing anything positive for the music, or for taking the music of T&T beyond the borders of the Caribbean Sea.
“I would love to see more substance in the music, as well as a broader content for the music. Wine and jam is all good, for a carnival, but where is the longevity of that music? And which global audience does it embrace or attract? I would also like to see more unity within the music industry.
“It is the only way we will be able to move forward in a positive manner.”
About how he became involved in Mac Farlane’s Christmas Joy, Carter said: “I was singing at a function last year and Mr Mac Farlane was a member of the audience. After my set he approached me personally and told me he wanted to do a Christmas production and wanted me to be a part of it. The experience of doing that production was magnificent and rewarding for me as I had never done musical theatre before. For one of my songs, I had to act, so that pushed me in a different dimension as an artiste.
“The cast that I worked with, like Wendell Constanine and Wendy Sheppard, was overwhelming. I was nervous at first but they mentored me, guided me and kept me composed and focussed. I can see myself becoming addicted to that musical theatre realm. It is also good for my resume.”
Because of working on a project that includes producing an EP, Carter will not be producing any new music for Carnival 2016, but will continue performing with Imij & Co for Carnival 2016. He said: “I am currently in the studio working on that release which I hope to release by May 2016. Outside of that, I am open to more offers to do more musical theatre. My long term goal is to simply produce music of substance with my work—the Kevon Carter brand—that has depth, is inspirational and is good music.”