Riddim We Want! – Olatunji Yearwood
  Gavin Luke
February 2021

                         Soca superstar Olatunji. (Photograph courtesy of Olatunji Music).


Likened to a superstar by Simon Cowell of “X Factor” fame, Olatunji is still very much remembered for his awesome delivery in 2018 of his renditions of “Bodyline” and “Jiggle It” on Series 15 of “The X Factor”. 

Olatunji Yearwood was born in Trinidad and Tobago to parents who were also creative and talented in their own rights. His father, Edward Yearwood, is a well-known pan extraordinaire and his mother, Mairoon Ali, excelled in the field of acting. Proof indeed that natural talent can be passed on! 

Olatunji’s entry into stage performance started at an early age and his visibility was ignited at Trinity College where he placed 2nd both in the 2002 NYAC Emancipation Calypso Competition and the Sunshine Snacks Junior Calypso Competition. In his own words, his fondest memories while growing up were, “Emerging as 2003 Sunshine Snack Junior Calypso Monarch and placing 3rd in Scouting for Talent.” At Scouting for Talent (the popular television show that showcased local talent) he received awards for the “Most Outstanding Calypsonian” and “Most Promising Act”. 

Knowing fully well that he wanted to continue to perform, he enrolled at West Thames College of Performing Arts in the UK. Whilst abroad he remained committed to his dreams by staying involved in sports and training in vocals, dance and creative sessions. After qualifying with a Diploma Degree in Performing Arts he returned to Trinidad in 2006. He was very quickly recruited by popular band Traffik and then The Roy Cape All-Stars.  During this period he recalls fond memories of getting the opportunity to travel to Toronto, New York and other parts of North America to perform. As a soloist he continued to perform both locally and abroad in places such as Miami, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua. 

With every Carnival season Olatunji has managed to keep himself relevant with a large number of well received hits. But which is his favourite? “‘Ola’ is my favourite,” he quickly responds despite undoubtedly knowing that, amongst his fans, some favourites include songs such as  “Oh Yay”, “Thank Mama”, “Wining Good” and “Disorderly” (with Shurwayne Winchester), just to name a few. It should be reminded that “Ola” was the song with which he won the 2015 Groovy Soca Monarch Finals. 

                    Olatunji strikes a spiritual pose. (Photograph courtesy of Olatunji Music).

Commenting on Covid-19 and the “new normal” he admits that the loss of income is a problem but states that also very upsetting is that people have died as a result of the virus. “At this point of uncertainty I have no clue as to what the future of the industry would look like,” he adds. In spite of this he knows fully well that the show has to go on in some form or fashion and further expressed that we need to be humans and be able to love what we do. His signal to Carnival enthusiasts is that they can definitely expect more music from him. His goals as a performer remain to do better in the artform and grow financially as an artiste, not by trying to compete with others but by building a better self. He extends this advice to industry aspirants by explaining that they should not see performing as a competition with others but focus on having the right energy in developing self. He further acknowledges that every industry is not without challenges and cautiously declares that every industry has gate keepers and that that’s just how it is. “However soca music is not played yearly and it needs to be played on a day to day basis. Governance of the industry is everyone’s business. It is local music and playing local should be mandatory,” he tells Paradise Pulse.

On a more personal note Olatunji considers himself a spiritual person with a strong “knowing of the Almighty” and with confidence he pushed full steam ahead in releasing his 2021 renditions, which include “Riddim We Want” and the thought-provoking “Don’t Stop Carnival”. The latter was actually inspired by Lord Invader’s historical song which served as a reminder that in the 1940s Carnival was cancelled due to World War II. However, in addition to these two very popular songs, he quickly declares that the melodious “Drunk History” is in fact his favourite release for this 2021 season. 

With the disruption of the Carnival season 2021 it is hoped that all will return to normalcy in 2022. Nevertheless, Olatunji is definitely proof that the “Riddim” is alive and kicking.

See link below for the video for “Riddim We Want”:



All photographs are courtesy of Olatunji Music.

By: Gavin Luke | FEATURES | February 2021