By Gemma Handy
It may be billed as the antithesis to the sickly-sweet consumerism associated with
Valentine’s Day but Romain Virgo is feeling the love nonetheless.
The reggae superstar who has jetted in from Jamaica to headline tonight’s Black Rose concert at the Interpretation Centre is full of fervour for Antigua, one of his
favourite places to perform in the region.
He’s also a little misty-eyed about becoming a dad for the first time last month when wife Elizabeth gave birth to twins.
“It’s life-changing for sure, to realise these people are now the most important in my life,” he tells OBSERVER. “It’s a beautiful feeling, like no other, just to see them smiling in their sleep. I can’t express it, it’s amazing.”
Virgo admits having twins is not without its challenges. “We’re trying to get them both on the same schedule,” he smiles.
“When one is asleep, the other is awake.
These days I have to get out of my bed on their schedule and work with their time. But just to get up and change them and feed them is incredible; I never knew I could do it but I’m loving it.”
The ‘I am rich in love’ singer says his proud new role is making its mark lyrically too.
“I have always been positive but I am seeing my music getting even more serious.
Now I want to make music that my kids can feel proud about and go in a positive direction to,” Virgo reveals.
Tonight’s crowd can expect the 30-year-old’s usual vigour. “It will be energetic. I like to get on stage and be all over it and give 100 per cent of my heart and soul to the performance.
“I love the vibe of the people in Antigua,” he continues. “Their love and appreciation for music reminds me of home. The entire Caribbean feels like home to me, but even more so in Antigua.”
Still, an Antiguan crowd “can take a while to warm up to you”, he grins. “I always give myself time to read the crowd. This will be one of the first shows in Antigua that I am headlining alone; hopefully we can
make some nice memories.”
This year will mark 13 since a fresh-faced Virgo stole his compatriots’ hearts, winning Digicel’s Rising Stars competition in 2007, the same show that propelled his peer
Christopher Martin to fame.
“I believe I would still be here without Rising Stars; music has always been my passion but Rising Stars gave it that extra push,” he says. “I give thanks for the platform.”
“It wasn’t until his 2010 original hit ‘Mi Caan Sleep’ that people started to take
me seriously”, Virgo says. His ode to a spate of violent crime resonated with listeners far and wide.
“Jamaica’s crime rate was on a high back then. I am from a peaceful community in the countryside but I wrote about the cries of the people. This is what they were saying; stop the violence.”
Virgo admits it was tough making one’s mark as a young artist in a country where musical legends abound.
“There were big names like Jah Cure and Tarrus Riley and it was really hard to get
recognised and get people to listen and take you seriously.
“Breaking out of a competition into original music is one of the hardest things to do in Jamaica. It takes hard work and having a team around you who want to see you grow and will go to the ends of the Earth to get someone to play your music.”
Virgo rates his finest collaboration to date to be ‘Fade Away’ with Agent Sasco – and
now has his sights set on a musical union with some of Jamaica’s most eminent greats.
“I would love to work with Beres Hammond; he’s someone I look up to. Also
Junior Gong and Tarrus who’s like a brother to me,” he imparts.
If he hadn’t been a musician, Virgo thinks he’d have opted for architecture. “I loved technical drawing as a kid, then music came on the scene and I realised it was taking up all my time. But I still love looking at buildings; maybe one day I
will design my own,” he says.
These days, what Virgo loves most about his work is “seeing new places and
faces”. “That’s what makes it interesting. The most important part for me is how you can really reach people from different walks of life and backgrounds, and change
lives through the messages you put out.”
His ultimate goal is staying true to himself and continuing to grow. “I will stay optimistic and hope to be remembered as
someone who always had something positive to say. Being patient and being true will only make you grow as a
“Now with children in the mix, I am learning patience all over again and seeing where it pays off.”