Nishal Balkissoon La Bonne Intention (LBI) on the East Coast of Demerara:
After being told to never sing again, Nishal B takes us on his musical journey By Lakhram Bhagirat
Challenges are a part of our daily existence and overcoming them is what makes us strong individuals, but quite often we have to have that passion for what is on the other side in order to overcome the challenges. So about six years ago when a producer told Deonarine Balkissoon or as we may know him Nishal B that he should never sing again, he lost all hope and gave up.
Nishal’s journey into the music industry is quite unconventional, since it was something he did not want to do: from a very young age, he had his eyes set on becoming a cricketer. However, fate had something else in store for him.
Reflecting on his journey, the 30-year-old father said that while growing up in the village of La Bonne Intention (LBI) on the East Coast of Demerara, he was all about having fun and ensuring that school was the priority. His love for the game of cricket developed when he was about 10 years old and from then no one could stop him.
At the age of 11, Nishal and his father were in an accident that resulted in them being badly injured and caused him to stop playing cricket for some time. When he was 15 and a student at the Bladen Hall Multilateral School, he decided to take back up the game he so loved. He became a member of the Demerara Cricket Club and began polishing himself for a career in the cricketing field.
“I wrote CXC, but never wanted to further studies because of the love I had for this game called cricket. I kept following my dreams of being a cricketer, but as soon as I was getting the opportunities to make it big in cricket, I developed a back injury that kept me out of the game until this day,” he said.
After Nishal was forced to give up his dreams of being a cricketer, he had no idea what to do with, himself since there was never a plan B.
“I spent days thinking and even cried about this. I slowly got over my injuries and soon after I head over to Trinidad and Tobago where I spent some time and develop the love for Chutney music. I move back to Guyana and got myself settled and started to do construction work. I then got married and started to follow music,” he said.
Getting into music for Nishal was a challenge he certainly was not prepared for. It was difficult beyond comprehension, he says, and to this day although he is an accomplished singer, it is still a challenge in the music industry. The challenge is to stay relevant and make music that everyone enjoys.
At the age of 24, he made his first attempt at making music after his friends in Trinidad would encouraged him to sing. He initially reached out to a number of local artistes for tips and general advice, but the response was non-existent.
“I then decided take matters into my own hands and head into a studio to record a song. I went and record and did my first song called “Titan”. The studio guy had a hell of time to record me ‘cause I didn’t know one thing I was doing. I thought to myself that I’ll go to a next studio to see if they can help me, but that was the worst decision I made at that moment. The studio guy told me “boy, don’t sing back after today, you too green” as he meant I don’t have the potential to be a singer.
“At that moment, I walked out his yard and dropped singing completely. Four years after, I was on Facebook and saw a guy name Michael and notice he is a singer, so I messaged him and we had a chat and he encouraged me to get back into singing and he will put me on to someone who will help me,” Nishal related.
From then, the journey has not been easy but it is more comfortable since he has the support of his fellow musicians. He said after the conversation with Michael (only name given), he was linked with local artiste Bunty Singh who owns the BKVJ Studio where he recorded some songs. After that, his voice and style of music started impacting the local scene, resulting in the bookings starting to come in. He eventually became a group act with Vicadi Singh and AW Lyrical where they worked on a number of local and regional shows.
Eventually, his music career was given an unexpected boost when Terry Gajraj offered to record a song with him called “Wine on Me”.
“After doing that song, Mr Gajraj offered me a chance to go New York to perform and I made full use of the opportunity and went. From that moment, I’ve been travelling back and forth, performing locally and internationally. At the moment, I have one album out and currently working on a next.”
Nishal has been making his mark on the local music scene and many may not know this but the males’ reply to Ravi B’s popular song “Start Over” was sung by Nishal. It was recorded in the Shakti Strings Studio in Guyana.
Not one to plan ahead, Nishal said that he hopes to make it big in the music industry and is currently a semi-finalist in the 2019 Chutney Monarch Competition with his song called “I’m proud to be a Guyanese.”
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