Story Of Us Event At The Griot Was ‘Amazing’

February 28, 2022

[Written by Vejay Steede]

Saturday night was amazing. Simply put, if you were not at the Griot Bookstore and culture hub on Saturday night, you missed one of the very best live shows the City of Hamilton has ever had the privilege of hosting.

No, there were no international superstars involved; there were no platinum selling artists, or world-famous personalities. Those who were involved, however, delivered a spectacular show for the audience inside the Griot on that magical night.

Hannah Eggen hosted the show, which was entitled “The Story of US” – a sweet sentiment designed to simultaneously evoke, and celebrate, the intersection of love and Blackness; you know, the two things February is known for!

Hannah was magnificent throughout the evening, charming the audience into submission with the grace and panache of a master showman. Of course, Hannah is a seasoned performer by now, and every molecule of her world class talent was on full display on Saturday night.

The energy was electric from the start, when Hannah opened the evening’s entertainment with a goosebump-inducing rendition of “Proud Mary” that had the audience singing “Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river,” right out the gate.

Audience engagement was tight throughout, which was certainly aided by the intimacy of the venue, and the readiness of the attendants to love the artists they were about to be astounded by. The experience was truly inspiring.

Veteran poet and organizer, Milton McKenzie graced the stage next. Milton extracted “Oohs” and “Aahs” from the audience with ease, especially with his sensual tribute to Jill Scott’s debut album. A very good start indeed.

Next to the mic was newcomer Kimoy Dixon, who’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Kimoy did three poems, and shared some truly wise and positive words before leaving the stage to loud applause.

Accomplished local poet, Tiffany Paynter was next to take the stage, and she was outright mesmerizing at times. The veteran spoken word artist delivered her classic “Rooster” poem, and a wonderfully whimsical tribute to her Goddaughter [who also happens to be my Goddaughter] called “Ode to Kairos.” The audience showered her with their well-earned adoration.

There was a short intermission next, which felt like it came too early, but the balance of the show proved breathtaking enough to warrant an early recess.

Frenchie exploded onto the stage immediately after intermission, oozing personality and executing a hypnotic modern dance routine to the equally hypnotic Delta Rae opus “Bottom of the River.”

Hannah shared an original song next, prompting me to write the note “phenomenal talent” into my phone’s trusty notes app. A short moment of silence was followed by the absolute best rendition of Junior Murvin’s seminal “Police and Thieves” that I have ever heard live. My notes say “Wow” for that song. Hannah transformed the classic roots reggae tune into her own creation, juxtaposing soaring falsetto vocals with a guttural growling of the words “guns and ammunition.” The performance was simply stunning!

My personal love of pretty much all international reggae music that was recorded in the 1970s made Hannah’s performance of “Police and Thieves” an easy highlight for me, but there were some astonishingly outstanding highpoints still to come.

A short Open Mic session saw local rapper supreme KASE show just why he’s a legend, and Cushi charm the audience with his personality and silky voice. Then Aquilla delivered a sweet love poem based on the mating patterns of the Bermuda Longtail, before the advertised performers returned to raise the roof off the mother.

This show enjoyed the distinguished patronage of the Minister of Youth, Culture, and Sport, Dr. the Hon. Ernest Peets, Jr, who was beaming with pride as Bermudian after Bermudian came to the stage and simply smashed it.

Salayah was transcendent. Taking the stage with her acoustic guitar in hand, this young singer-songwriter seared her name into every mind present on Saturday night. She effortlessly exhibited world class talent [a phrase you might read more than once in this review], and extracted the first explosive standing ovation of the evening from the enthusiastic audience. What a revelation!

The next young lady to take the stage was Quinn, who has been wowing crowds with her big voice since she was a pre-teen. Well, she’s all grown up now, and so is her voice. Yeah, her voice is even bigger now! Quinn destroyed the stage with a stunning rendition of the emotionally charged Yebba masterpiece “My Mind.” Honestly, I have no words; you had to be there.

Joy T. Barnum was the next performer. Joy is a household name in Bermuda by now, and she showed just why once again on Saturday night. She made Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” her very own, and then pierced the stratosphere with a superb rendition of the Disney classic “Spirit.” The standing ovation was automatic.

The trio of Salayah, Quinn, and Joy elevated this show to something more than an intimate gathering on a quiet Saturday night in February. These three Bermudian artists made this event feel like something different, something truly special and timeless. This was not a night out, this was an experience, a memory, an “I was there when …” moment.

There is no intimate setting on the face of the earth that has hosted anything better than the Griot hosted this weekend. Hannah, Salayah, Quinn, and Joy delivered a ridiculous show on Saturday night, and no one who experienced these young ladies in all their pomp will ever forget the night they made. Just, wow.

Ian Cameron [The Griot], Talitha Davis, and Milton Mckenzie [Art Official Souls]. the founders of Open Mic Bda


The show was closed by Kinya from Kenya, who was backed by the Timeless Nomads Band. Kinya and the Timeless Nomads delivered a delightful performance, filled with recognizable hits and saccharine sweet love songs. The audience poured love on them as they brought the show to a thoroughly satisfying close; but the absolute highs had already passed.

In the end, no one left the Griot feeling like they didn’t get their money’s worth on Saturday night. This was a generously stacked showcase of world class Bermudian talent; the kind of showcase that suggests that there will be Bermudians sharing their incredible voices with the wide world very, very soon! Watch this space!

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