A Life Transforming Tale: Alieu “Arlvin” Ceesay
For as long as birds have been flying in the skies and fish swimming in the sea, we have seen and heard of different life changing stories. Tales have been told about different factors changing zeros to heroes, grass to grace and peasants to kings.
Growing up in the bustling and diverse Brikama metropolis, ST has grown to be the most popular Gambian artist. To date, he holds the record for pulling the biggest crowd at an event by a Gambian artist. But do you know that once upon a time, he could barely make his raps known past the borders of his home town?
I sat down with the man who also goes by Brikama Boyo (a tribute to his hometown) and he explained how his career as a musician started taking shape with the exposure afforded him via the OpenMic/OpenMicFest platform.
ST narrates how almost impossible it was for a musician from one community or region to be recognized in another community before the hood-hood OpenMics. He further explains how OpenMic hosted shows in different communities while featuring artists from other communities giving them exposure to a different crowd, a different society, a different vibe. “The Gambian music scene didn’t have that body that would bring different artists and fans together” he said.
Brikama Boyo continued to explain how the OpenMicFest brought a link not only between artists and fans but also between different Gambian artists. This link has given birth to many collaborations and networking between lots of artists in The Gambia. This was a much needed platform for the music scene because coming from Brikama as an artist and having your songs play in Bakau neighborhoods was something that didn’t happen on regular days of the week.
The “Gambiana” artist goes on to discuss the significance that OpenMicFest has had in his own career. “I have been to the very first OpenMic at Christian Council Hall. “Sharing a platform with different artists from other communities and being exposed to that huge number of fans from other hoods was like being in all these communities at one time and this gave me a chance to come out and show my talent.” ST goes on to further explain how he sees the OpenMicFest as an inspiration. His fan base started to grow, his career started to pick up and his music was now beyond the borders of his home town Brikama.
The multiple award winning artist who is known in every corner of the country and beyond, who has performed on so many stages in his career went on to say that the most sensational moment he has had on stage was at the OpenMicFest in 2013 “I will never forget that” he added. It was in the aftermath of that historic performance that the wildfire anthem “Aling Domo” was released by the artist. At that moment in time, the heatwave he brought to the OpenMicFest stage simply surpassed all previous levels of performances he had ever given. For the first time ever, ST had an entire stadium singing along with him.
People from different parts of the country went home with one image and one phrase in their heads. A shirtless ST dripping in sweat and performing his heart out on an open mic stage and the phrase of the year “Aling Domo”. Soon enough, this news was on media sites and the ST syndrome which happened to be quite contagious had already been passed around the whole country.
This turned out to be the speed booster for the young rapper. Those minutes on stage in 2013, that phrase, those fans, the OpenMicFest s platform were the flames to his skyrocketing career. Change is constant and growth should be the only change one aspires to get.