Eddy Grant. Bob Marley. The Jackson Five. Canadian composer and vocalist Mark Holder has worked with all of them in his 30 years as a Caribbean-themed musician.
And now he’s chosen a new place to use as a source of inspiration and continue his passion for music. Yup, you got it: Sooke.
Before moving here from Ottawa, Ontario with his family five months ago, Holder says his first trip to Vancouver Island left him deeply inspired.
“When I found Sooke I said, this is where I like it… it works with me, you know,” he said. “It’s a beautiful island, it just touched me.”
Soon enough, Holder, who’s been playing everything from jazz, to calypso, and what he calls “mellow reggae”, began working on a new album titled, Vancouver Island: Victoria.
“It’s a love song to the Island; it has smooth reggae and blended local beat,” he said, adding he doesn’t normally play in my sessions because he likes hiring local musicians.
“Playing local gives the music a better, more authentic flavour.”
Born in British Guyana, South America, becoming a recording artist was always Holder’s dream. In order to attain this goal, he worked to complete a degree in cabinetry and construction to earn the necessary funds to finance his own recording label.
He recorded his first single, co-written with his father, Those Thrilling Emotions, and as a pioneer of Caribbean music, he was one of the first Caribbean artists to sign up with two major labels, Atlantic Records & Capitol Records.
This year, Holder will be performing on Victoria Day (May 18) – which will also mark the official launch of his new album. After that, Holder says he’ll be taking a Canadian tour to the Caribbean with musicians from the Greater Victoria Region and from around B.C.
Now being a resident here in Sooke, he says it’s his way of giving something back for the natural beauty and coolness of the people who’ve inspired him.
“When you change residence and move someplace else, especially a place like this, you have to give to the community, show what you can do,” Holder said. “Sooke is a small town, very country – and I love country, it’s really nice.”