Wendell ‘Shine’ Hayward is one of the most well-known musicians in Bermuda. We recently had an opportunity to have a chat with this amazing musician, teacher of music, and talent-builder.
Q – Is there such a thing as a “Bermuda sound”?
A – Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ”Bermuda Sound,” in my opinion. Some would like to think that there is, but the truth of the matter is that there is not. Having said that, I am in no way taking away from the ability of our local musicians to duplicate the sound of just about any other culture. We play good reggae, soca, R&B, rock, jazz, funk, calypso and the list goes on. Yes, our local musicians can duplicate just about any style of music but there is no particular style or sound that Bermuda is known for.
Q – In less than 100 words, please share with us WHO you are and your personal philosophy on life.
A – I am Wendell Eugene Hayward, better known to most as Wendell “Shine” Hayward. I am a Bermudian born Entertainer/Educator. I am a graduate of Berklee College of Music. I am the 6th child of the late Alfred Frederick Hayward and Mary Louis Hayward. I have two very talented children and two wonderful grandchildren. I can be referred to as a single parent. Music is my life and my Philosophy on life is “All Things are Possible”.
Q – Bermuda used to have a thriving Community of the Arts (local musicians, limbo dancers, singers etc.) for many years and then life changed… I know one musician personally who decided (because of how the local entertainers were treated/supported) that he would NEVER pick up his instrument again and he never has. Why? Is it because of the lack of support for our local entertainers, and the Arts by the Bermuda Government and the local hotel industry? What really happened? Was it the passing or the aging of many of our most well-known entertainers like Gandy Burgess (deceased), Lance Hayward (deceased), Hubert Smith (deceased), and Jean & Pinky Steede, Marlene Minks and so many others?
A – First of all, all of the musicians/entertainers mentioned were alive when the entertainment industry changed. The change came in the early 80’s, when the then Bermuda Government decided to switch focus from Tourism to International Business. Hotels turned their night clubs into meeting rooms, fired their house bands, etc. Only Princess Hotel (now Fairmont Hamilton Princess) had a show for which all of the tourists were encouraged to support. This show consisted of Greg Thompson’s Follies from the west coast of America. Hotels no longer had entertainment directors. At the time entertainment came under the food and beverage managers, a very bad move (not a positive move for the country as a whole). It was no longer important for us to sustain the energy that was attributed to a vibrant entertainment product. The ‘deck’ was now stacked against us. Although International Business has served us well over the years, it was at the sacrifice of Tourism and the Hotel Industry of which local entertainment was a big part.
Q – What is your wish for the Community of the Arts on Island?
A – My wish for the Community of the Arts on Island is first of all that we could have a Visual and Performance Arts School, where we could place our talented young children on an artistic track early in their learning and groom them to be the best that they can be. Additionally, a Visual and Performance Arts School will provide young children with opportunities to go beyond local entertainment and to compete internationally i.e. to showcase their talents on international platforms.
Q – As one of Bermuda’s renowned musicians, share with us some of the things you are currently doing. (Busking???)
A – I am currently biding my time – my weeks are filled with music as I busk 5 days a week religiously and I’m enjoying every bit of it. Busking is not a part of our culture but is very common to our visitors who are very inclined to show their appreciation. Apart from busking, I am also available to perform at weddings, funerals and special functions on a one-off basis. I love to perform and to make a difference through my music.
Q – You have a project going on overseas. Any particular reasons why you decided to do the project beyond our Shores?
A – To be honest, Bermuda is very limited. The market is also very saturated at the moment with promoters but lacking the numbers to sustain the market that I cater to. When this opportunity became available, it appeared to be specifically ordered for me. By the grace of God, we should do very well when we come on-line.
Q – The biggest benefit about having a talented person such as yourself in our community is that our youth get to benefit from your teaching and sharing. Are you currently involved in any community projects? Please share with our readers.
A – It goes without saying that I have put a lot into our youth through my teachings in schools, my role as Education Officer for the Arts and my involvement with the Bermuda National Youth Jazz Orchestra. The fact that I have also performed in venues local and internationally gives my students something to aspire to and motivates them to be even better than myself.
Q – Is there a chance that the world of local entertainment will be revived, especially with the upcoming America’s Cup in 2017?
A – We hope that the America’s Cup in 2017 will require lots of entertainment and that local musicians and entertainers will get “first pickings.” My concern is what happens after 2017. In order for the local entertainment industry and local entertainers to be revived, we need to make a few things happen:
- The artists need to raise their level of performance.
- Bermuda needs suitably equipped venues for performances and
- Local audiences need to support the Arts consistently.
Q – Our Government gives a lot of attention to the Sports community. How can our Government be a positive support to the industry?
A – Athletes and artists are best positioned to be any country’s ambassadors. In Bermuda, Sports and the Arts are always grouped under the Department and Ministry of Cultural Affairs. However, the two are never seen equally. The Arts have never received the level of financial support that the Sports community has. The Government should level the financial support or alternate the levels of support between the two from year to year to strike a well needed balance.
Q – What advice do you have for our up and coming musicians?
A – To our up and coming musicians, my advice is to never stop wanting to be better than what you are. Keep the saying “Practice Makes Perfect” in your hearts and work hard to attain your goals!