Reflections: seeking a foothold in local music

There is a trio seeking a foothold in the local music industry and it is not difficult to imagine that it could become a force to reckon with in the near future; Reflections has a trump card that many of its counterparts in the music arena would love to have.

Nancy Osborne in China
Nancy Osborne in China

Unlike other local artistes, while the group has no local exposure it has had one year of exposure in a foreign country. Reflections has been all the way to China and was the entertainment group for a major hotel for an entire year.

Not many Guyanese would have heard about Reflections. The group consists of two sisters — Nicole and Nancy Osborne — and Jermaine Mac Bean, Nicole’s husband, and prior to 2007, it did not exist. In fact, Reflections was born while they were in China, and it was their way of telling the Chinese that they were a true reflection of Guyana and what it has to offer.

When The Scene caught up with the trio, Nicole and Nancy were still talking about their recent experience in the Carib Soca Monarch competition which saw them coming in at eighth place out of a pool of 12 singers.

“It was a great experience, we did not win but we got good reviews,” Nancy said. “Many people said the song was good but it was not a soca song and in fact it was supposed to be in a dub form but we just said we would do it in a soca form… We will now release it in the dub form.”

In fact The Scene did get some good reviews about the girls’ performance at the competition with many saying they have beautiful voices. If they are around next year, Guyanese can look forward to seeing them on stage during the next competition.

Nicole on camelback in China.
Nicole on camelback in China.

They did not mind not placing in the competition as they got some much needed local exposure and while Jermaine was not on stage he is also with the exposure the group got.

Before Reflections, all three of them sang locally as individuals. Nicole recalled that she was in the soca competition in 2007 but initially it was not a very good experience as she got no sponsors and had a lot of work to do “but in the end everything kind of came together and I sang, but I did not place.”

Nicole is fairly new to singing, having been urged along by Nancy. But both Nancy and Jermaine have done nothing but sing in their adult life. They both said it was from singing they have earned a living all these years and they hope to continue.

They are writing and recording songs as they await their return to China and they hope to get a few local gigs in the meantime.
“You see for some people singing is a hobby and they have a serious job but for us singing is our serious job and we have other hobbies so singing is how we make a living,” Nancy said.

Musical family

Nicole and Nancy Osborne
Nicole and Nancy Osborne

Jermaine does not talk a lot; he was quite comfortable to sit and let the ladies take centre stage during the interview and only spoke when a direct question was posed to him. He told The Scene that he does all of his talking through his singing.

He really should have been the one who was bursting with information as it was because of his good showing in neighbouring Trinidad that saw the group got its first break.
The young singer recalled that he started to sing from the age of seven as he came from a “musical family.”  But it was when he attained the age of 19 that he began to sing professionally and in fact he had what is known as a ‘teaspoon one-man band’ and he was hired to perform at local functions in and around the city with him being the only performer.

But his voice earned him stints with bands such as Majestics, Pete’s Caribbean Fusion, Jahrusalem among others and that is how he lived. But like so many people he one day decided that he had to seek greener pastures and he did this by travelling to Trinidad.

It may have been the best decision he made for his singing career as while in Trinidad, he had hired a manager who found work for him and he sang at a venue which had a Chinese businessman in the audience. Jermaine must have done something special that day as the businessman invited him to go to China and sing at his hotel for six months.

Nicole and Nancy ready for a performance in China
Nicole and Nancy ready for a performance in China

He knew he could not have done it along so he extended an invitation to two Trinidadians to accompany him. They sung together and it was good but when Jermaine was told that his contract would be extended for another year, he decided that he wanted to give Guyanese a chance.

Jermaine had seen Nancy singing at the Pegasus and while they may have bumped into each other from time to time they had never spoken. But on that night at the Pegasus they struck up a conversation and he told her of the contract he had in China and invited her to be part of it. This was before he left for the first trip to that Asian country.

It was when he returned after that first trip that he sought her out to make good on the invitation and Nancy said she could not leave her sister behind.
Sparks flew between Nicole and Jermaine and they became man and wife and Reflections was born.

The Unison

But rewind some years ago and you would have found that Nancy was part of a band called The Unison. During that time Nancy was married to Bobby Diamond. She told The Scene that she started singing professionally at the age of 17.

Nicole Osborne in China
Nicole Osborne in China

The group, which had five members, may not have been overly popular but Nancy said it performed a lot and that was how she and her husband earned a living.
Life is full of tragedies and one struck Nancy five years ago when her husband passed away. Following his passing she attempted to keep the band going “but it was too much for me and I had to let it go.”

She then became “a freelance singer who was always on call”. Nancy recalled that singing was always her thing and she started writing songs at the age of eight but never did any recordings.

As for Nicole she felt she “did not have a very good voice,” and as a result singing was not her first choice. She did cosmetology and still does some of that on the side.
The two sisters could not stop raving about their stay in China, even though it was initially difficult to be so far away from home. Not only were the people friendly and they were treated well but their contract was very profitable and should the opportunity present itself again, they would not hesitate to jump on a plane and wing their way back.

Financial crisis

Jermaine said they returned to Guyana in October last year and had expected to be back in China already but because of the global financial crisis they are having some difficulties.
They are in constant contact with their contractor, who hopes he can get them stints at other hotels, and it is hoped that some time in the neat future things would work out.

In the meantime, Guyanese can expect “excitement from the Reflections; we are coming hot,” said Nancy, who further said they are different from other groups as they are a family and are more closely connected.

While in China, they got very good reviews and Guyana’s Ambassador to China ensured that she visited the hotel regularly just to see them perform.  They are hoping to give Guyanese some of what they have to offer before leaving for China again.

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