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Born in Darkness comes to light

Friday, July 13, 2018

Moving. Emotional. Spiritual. Powerful. All adjectives used by audience members to describe the launch of Freetown Collective’s debut album, Born in Darkness. The launch took place at Callaloo Company’s space in Chaguaramas on June 30.

The popular band, comprised of lead guitarists Muhammad Muwakil and Lou Lyons, along with backup vocalists Shanna and Malene Joseph and Tishanna Williams, added a variety of instrumentalists and vocalists to their line up. These included members of The Lydians, All Stars Brass, guitarist Kiwan Landreth-Smith, and producer Jayron “Rawkus” Remy, with live visual projections by North Eleven. The music drew from all genres, including rock, ballads, and soca, infused with the unique sound that is Freetown Collective.

The performances, including favourites such as Normal, Born Swimma and Born Soldiers as well as new music like the album’s title track Born in Darkness, Red Eye and Human Form, drew an enthusiastic response from the patrons, who sang along, screamed, chanted, jumped around and cried and cried throughout the two hour concert. The vibe was an intimate one throughout, as Muwakil paused to regale the capacity audience with stories about the making of the album and the journey the group has taken over the three years it took to bring the project to completion.

The full song list included Incantation, featuring The Lydians; Human Form featuring The Lydians and Kiwan Landreth-Smith, whose guitar solo had fans screaming; Born In Darkness, Lightman and where I am, featuring The Lydians & All Star Brass; interludes Cure and Vice and Hired Guns; Red Eye; Normal; Feel This; Space For A Heart; Believe Me; Born Soldiers; Good Swimma; Go; and Bless Them.

The group released a new video for their song Space For A Heart, which had many audience members in tears. The video, done in collaboration with Nadia Huggins, Oliver Milne and Maya Cozier, told the story of an old man who built a makeshift boat to go back to the spot where the love of his life drowned when they were young. Muwakil revealed that the video was dedicated to a Trinbagonian poet named Eric Roach who died by drowning. He said the band was able to feel Roach’s spirit with them while they were recording the track, which was a moving experience for everyone involved.

Many patrons brought their children with them, and one child even requested that the band perform Born Soldier.

Muwakil said he was proud to see this, as the group felt that their music was for everyone.

Opening acts Rheon Elbourne and Deneka Thomas set the tone for the rest of the show, inspiring the audience to participate with their music and poetry.

Elbourne’s song Pam Pam was a hit, while Thomas performed her Trini dialect poem as well as the poem which won her the 2018 First Citizens National Poetry Slam championship, The Closet.

At the end of the main performance, the crowd was so hyped that they called for an encore, and the band obliged by singing Mama Africa and Love Transition. Many patrons expressed satisfaction with the concert and said they were going to buy the album immediately.

Longtime fans noted that the group’s sound had evolved well over time and expressed hope that they would continue to grow.


Freetown Collective’s album Born in Darkness is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music. For more information, find Freetown Collective on Facebook and go to


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