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A Trini wine made in Japan

By NEWSDAY REPORTER Tuesday, February 13 2007

IT WAS just last year at Machel Montano’s Alternative Concept 4 concert that TT got a taste of Soca from Japan as the artiste known as “Minmi,” whose real name is Evwana Michiko, took to the stage and wowed the audience with her unique style. This year, “Minmi” is not just a part of the HD experience, but she is also testing her ability against the best in Soca from the Caribbean at the Soca Monarch competition where she will face off against the likes of Nadia Batson, Patrice Roberts, Olatunji Yearwood and the big man in the business — Iwer George — with her tune “Sha Na Na.”

Caribbean music is nothing strange to the dynamic performer who started her musical career within the genre of Reggae in 1996, when she made her name in the local Japanese club scene. She says, “It was very unusual to sing Reggae at a club back home since that arena was generally saturated with conventional Techno dance rhythms at the time but it worked out for me.”

“Minmi” also states that although she was a bit nervous when she decided to follow the Reggae sounds and all that evolved from it, it wasn’t until her first single, “The Pefect Vision,” grabbed up sales of 400,000 units plus in 2003 that she became much more confident in her decision. Perhaps one of the factors that also influenced that decision is the fact that Reggae music is seen as music for the “bad girls”— sort of an image technique.

Since then, she has been a consistent visitor to Jamaica for everything from video shoots to recordings. And it was on one of these visits that she sat in her hotel room and saw a video featuring Machel Montano and Dancehall superstar, Beenie Man. “I was absolutely amazed by this blend,” she says. After

a while, “Minmi’s” music videos made their way to the local market where none other than Montano himself spotted her and immediately arranged for his people to get in contact with her people.

“Minmi” says, “I was thrilled when Machel asked me to perform at AC4, and although I didn’t spend as much time in TT I as would have liked, the experience increased my desire to come back to this lovely country.”

She definitely made that dream come true as the crowd at this year’s Alternative Concept cheered on her every move on stage. And unlike last year when she returned to Japan soon after her performance and had little time to explore TT the way she wanted to, she’s having the time of her life this time around.

In fact, “Minmi” is very fond of the beaches here and admits that a “bake and shark” at Maracas Bay is definitely worth the journey. But experiences aside, the energetic artiste is more than just an athletic body jumping and waving on stage. She writes her own lyrics and arranges her music.

“It’s been like that since I got into the music industry,” she says, as being able to touch all the facets of music is important to her. And it was never a case of having something as a back-up plan in case she fails at music. Music is all she ever wanted to so and still is.

There’s nothing else for her in this world right now since all of her energy is fuelling a blossoming career that she hopes to take to the international circuit in the next two to three years. In fact, she’s currently planning her strategy to get the most out of a few offers she has gotten to arrange music for a few international stars.

For now, however, the Soca Monarch Finals is Minmi’s main focus. And she admits, “Even if I don’t place as high as I would like, I have learnt much form the experience to better equip myself next time.”


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