St. john’s Antigua- Maybe you call him Dr Drue. Perhaps you know him as Superman, but whatever you call him, you can’t deny that Ricardo Barriteau is a force to be reckoned with in Antigua’s soca arena. The rising talent took time out from his preparations for Saturday’s Party Monarch competition to chat with OBSERVER Media.
Ricardo Drue might be pure vibes and energy on stage, but his off-stage personality is far more reserved; a trait, he says he inherited from the grandmother he grew up with. And despite a rocky start, Drue also has his grandmother and extended family to thank for his love for Caribbean music.
Surprisingly, he disliked Carnival and soca music for a while in his younger years. His aversion apparently stemmed from a spat the seven-year-old Drue had with his grandmother one Carnival season. He wanted to play his Nintendo, but instead, she made him watch the annual festivities so he could be familiar with his culture.
Music, particularly soca, was big in Barriteau’s household. Sundays were reserved for Luther Vandross and other classic R&B, but during the week, soca reigned supreme; and over the years it wore him down.
“It was so instilled in me that it just naturally evolved one year,” he told OBSERVER Media. “It was almost like an automatic click. I didn’t even have to make a decision.”
As he’s been in the game since he was about 15 years old you’d think singing and writing music would be number one in his life, but Ricardo says his biggest passion is his children. The recently turned 27-year-old is also completing his undergraduate studies in business at the University of Phoenix, and intends to study law afterward. On his off time Drue is also a major film buff, and can easily be found at the movies.
This self-professed ‘local foreigner’ was born in Antigua, and while his Trinidadian and American residencies have been cause for contention in some circles, Ricardo says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“Those who don’t understand may never understand, but my goal is to do what I can and represent Antigua to the best of my ability.”
These days Drue says he gets a better reception in Antigua than in Trinidad, but it wasn’t always that way. Reflecting on his first performance in Antigua he says he remembers an unmoving crowd staring back at him with folded arms and blank faces. While some artists may shy away from the ever-critical Antiguan audience, Drue says that our particular brand of honesty provides an opportunity for artists to progress and grow, which is something he appreciates.
“One thing that Antiguans do that other people don’t do is that they give you a listening ear,” he said. “They give you an opportunity to show what you’re capable of, and if they don’t like it, they’re going to tell you. They don’t put water in their mouths for nothing.”
Drue has also been able to draw inspiration from an Antiguan crowd, but this time their hands were doing something quite different. Last Carnival Tuesday as he was watching the parade Ricardo noticed something.
“Every five minutes I saw someone jumping with their hands in the air, and it’s like the hands just stayed there. So I was like… I’m gonna write this song.”
So said, so done. That evening he put pen to paper, and with a little help from local producer ‘Burger’, ‘Superman’ was born. He says the response to the track has been “overwhelming” and cemented the fact that this is his biggest year yet.
As far as the LIME Party Monarch competition is concerned Drue says if he doesn’t win he hopes the crown goes to whoever else works hard and puts their best foot forward.
For fans and friends who want to keep up with the latest news on Ricardo Barriteau, aka Ricardo Drue, you can like his fan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/itsdrue or follow him at www.twitter.com/@ITSDRUE on Twitter.