COMPOSER & PRODUCER
Nevardo “Perro Grande” Dean is a Bahamian composer and record producer with world-class experience. His finely-tuned ear for tone quality and orchestral arrangement have helped him develop a musical signature that incorporates a multi-genre sound with live symphony orchestrations. His body of work as both a composer and producer conveys a distinctive, cinematic depth that he achieves through a disciplined approach to precise and authentic production values.
Perro Grande discovered his passion for music early on, while growing up in Nassau and playing the organ in the church where both his parents were ministers. He studied Architecture in Cuba for several years, where he was exposed to a variety of Afro-Caribbean musical styles such as Soca, Cuban Jazz, Latin, African music and Reggae rhythms.
In 2007, he moved to Ottawa, Canada, to advance his architectural studies, but continued to refine and perfect his recording and producing skills. His formal introduction to the music industry came after music industry veterans from Sony/ATV music liked his work on some recorded tracks and asked him to do more.
This association proved to be invaluable, and he was soon asked to produce a new version of Michael Jackson’s song Heal the World for a special United Nations project. Inspired by Quincy Jones’ We Are the World project, he began a musical collaboration with a number of world-class industry professionals, including talent from various symphony orchestras and top recording engineer, Michael Jack (25 Gold and Platinum albums). The resounding success of the project prompted him to seriously consider the possibility of establishing a recording and production facility in his home country of The Bahamas.
The devastation inflicted on The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian, though, provided him with the perfect opportunity to use his talents and experience to help uplift his fellow Bahamians in their time of need.
His deepest desire is that it will both help suffering Bahamians recover and heal through music, and provide the experience of professional collaboration among aspiring Bahamian composers, producers, and artists.
Climate Disaster Healing Song author, Anwar McDonald, is no stranger to the creative musical process or the success that can come with it. He wrote half of the songs on a Jah Cure album called The Cure, which earned a Grammy nomination for Reggae Album of the Year in 2015.
But he admits there’s something special about listening to his words and initial harmonies blossom into a fully composed song. “I wrote the complete song just a capella,” he said. “When you write something like that, you do have an idea of how it might sound when it’s complete. But in the moment when I heard all the instruments together, it felt really, really good. It was moving.”
The scope of the song was also important to the native-Bahamian. “I wanted both the lyrics and the music to touch those people affected by the storm. But I also wanted people who weren’t affected to understand that this isn’t just something that happened to some people somewhere. It could have been any one of us. And we should show the same kindness to them as we would want shown to us.”
Most organizations have that one special person who loves planning, organizing and getting things done. For The Climate Change Relief group, that person is Keora Beneby. Keora met project lead Perro while in school in Canada (she says she was just following her parents’ advice to ‘connect with any Bahamian you find’). They kept in touch when she moved back to Nassau in 2010 after her father passed away, and she has been Perro’s eyes and ears on the local music scene ever since.
Armed with almost five years of project management experience at JP Morgan in Nassau, Keora was more than willing to dive into the ambitious project to help victims of Hurricane Dorian through song. The successful coordination of 24 vocalists--from idea all the way through recording--required her to draw upon more than just her experience.
“I’m pretty much a people person who believes in human connection,” she said. “I want to connect with everyone on some level. People just tend to respond very well to me. It’s not uncommon for me to hit it off right away with someone I meet for the first time.”
At the end of the day, Keora envisions a much bigger role for the song than simply hurricane relief. “As a climate change healing song, I want it not only to become an anthem for the Bahamas and any crisis that may happen here, but I also want it to be recognized on a global scale so that people can identify with ‘One World’.”
What started as a conversation between long-time Brand Strategist, Nicky Saddleton, and Perro Grande, about personal branding late last year quickly became something far more significant after Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in August, 2019. For Nicky, The Climate Change Relief Song blew in with the storm, and found life thanks to previous musical production work Perro had done on a remix of Michael Jackson’s Heal the World.
“Perro and I were both still without power [in Nassau] and waiting to hear about the other islands,” she said, “when we started talking about how the Bahamas was going to heal from the disaster. That word immediately triggered the memory of his work on the Michael Jackson song, and we both just simultaneously said, ‘We should do a song!’”
The experience Perro had gained on that project provided him with all the tools he needed to orchestrate a similar process in the Bahamas. Strategically, Nicky turned a palette of diverse elements--Perro’s personal branding, his desire to help his country after the storm, and his deeply-held mission to bring a truly international standard for musical production to the Bahamas--into one seamless project. In many ways, The Climate Change Relief Song itself became her ‘perfect storm’.
“I can’t think of a better way to pull all of that together,” she said. “It’s really been a joyful journey.”
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said project fundraising coordinator, Kelly Meade, about the day The Climate Change Relief Song was recorded at The Sanctuary studio at Albany. “Just watching all [the vocalists] come together . . . it was so great to see the camaraderie, the amazing talent, and the process. I found it very emotional and deeply touching.”
Kelly knows a thing or two about finding sponsors for such projects too, having leveraged her talents on behalf of Blairwood Academy and BREEF here in the Bahamas, and for the Michael J Fox Foundation and a not-for-profit primary school in Toronto, Canada. “I’ve got a background in fundraising, so I know a lot of people,” she said. “Meeting Perro just solidified [my involvement in the project].”
After first establishing a foundation for the project, though, Kelly admits that donor fatigue around Hurricane Dorian relief efforts became a fundraising challenge. But Perro’s ultimate vision for the future remained in her mind, as a worthy and welcome change for the Bahamas.
“I hope this becomes a platform for how serious this problem [climate change] has become,” she said. “But I also hope it helps Perro realize his goal of bringing education and knowledge [about music and the industry] to local artists, who are so talented. Hopefully it will launch some careers.”
NL AUBREY SMITH
Neville Smith witnessed the destruction of Hurricane Dorian first-hand in Abaco, while filming documentary footage of the damage just a few days after the storm had passed. “It was apocalyptic,” he said. “There was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.”
A mutual friend suggested to project Communications head, Nicky Saddleton, that Neville might be perfect for the project’s filmed sequences. The two had worked together in the past, so she quickly recruited him for the task, despite any reservations he may have had. “I’m a little bit jaded,” he admits. “I thought ‘oh jeez, they want to do a song’. But, man, it was amazing. By the end of [the recording day at The Sanctuary], everyone was holding hands and crying. I was highly impressed what they were able to do in just one session.”
As owner of Settler’s Cove Productions, a boutique television and digital film company, Neville has had his work appear on major US network programs--including more than 20 times on ABC’s Good Morning America--for more than a decade. But this project became more than just another job for him. “It was just good energy, being around a bunch of like-minded people who just stopped what they were doing for one day to help.”
RAYANDRA "RAY" NAIRN
In the 10 years Ray Nairn has been a photographer, few proposed projects were as easy to say ‘yes’ to than The Climate Change Relief Song. “It was a no-brainer,” she said. “When Keora reached out to me, I was more than excited and happy to be a part of it.”
Ray shot the profile pictures and other photography for the project, as well as the videography of the two vocalists/storm survivors, Summer Abele and Travis Santon. But the real thrill for her, she admits, was recording day.
“Just to see the way everything came together seamlessly at The Sanctuary studio at Albany—from the music to the singers to the organization of the project—was pretty exciting.” And if ‘the medium is the message,’ as Marshall McLuhan once suggested, Ray believes the organizers have chosen wisely.
“Music appeals to people’s emotions and is one of the most powerful mediums if you want to get a message across,” she said. “I never really listened to orchestra music, and the song appealed to me. I can only imagine the effect it’s going to have on others when they hear it.”
“If I can contribute to the project with my particular skill set, I’m happy to do it,” said Joe Euteneuer, who managed the editorial content for the project’s website, and wrote all the individual profiles. “I’m a musician myself, so the idea of addressing climate change relief and awareness through music appeals to me greatly.”
Personal experience with Hurricane Dorian provided further motivation when he was asked to participate in the project: his mother- and aunt-in-law had their home in Marsh Harbour nearly destroyed by the storm. He had no communication with them for four full days, before discovering that the two had climbed into their attic to escape rising water, but had indeed survived.
Wide-ranging experience across several professions—magazine and newspaper publishing, investment banking—also helped Joe appreciate both the immediate results that the project could deliver, as well as the broader objective behind the song.
“One thing you learn over time is that everybody needs help and healing at some point, which is what the song is meant to do for Dorian survivors. But the world is also experiencing climate events that may become even more frequent. I’d love to see the world really get together to find ways to manage this change and minimize the negative effects.”