A New Voice in Caribbean Jazz

Raw, real, melodic. These are all words that describe the sound that comes out of Ruth Osman’s mouth.

Osman, a Guyanese jazz singer and flautist, has been performing since she was a child. She started to take music lessons at age eight, beginning with the recorder and eventually moving on to voice and flute. Her father, she says, is a classical music lover and her mother plays the piano.

“I suppose when you’re surrounded by something you can’t help but love it,” she says.

Even though she was surrounded by music at a young age she was not absolutely sure she wanted to be a singer.

“I wanted to be able to express myself, to let out whatever it was that I felt at the moment,” she says.

She did not just use music to express herself but also got involved in drama and poetry. But music came effortlessly to her.

“I started singing and playing in church at a young age, and people’s response to my performances made me realize that I had a gift, something that could touch people.”

Today, life inspires her music especially “the joy, pain, fragility and preciousness of it.” Her spirituality also motivates her work.

“God inspires me as well, some of my best songs were the results of my reaching out to him.”

Today with many Caribbean artistes turning to soca, pop or R&B, one wonders why Ruth chose jazz as her genre.

“I see Jazz as a sort of conduit leading from my heart to my audience,” she says. “One never knows what to expect when one goes to a jazz performance, because it’s so intrinsic to the moment, everyone in the room becomes part of it, everyone contributes to it.”

Ruth recently performed at “Mama dis is Jazz,” a music festival in Trinidad. She says the jazz scene in the Caribbean is experiencing a bit of a renaissanace, especially in Trinidad where she now lives. A number of jazz clubs have opened on the island and it seems that every week there’s a place where you can go to listen to this genre of music.

“It happened quite suddenly and I’m hoping that it lasts,” she says.

You can hear Ruth’s music at this link.

     

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