In her debut single "Name Man", Savanna declares her independence as she puts her foot down on being controlled by a man.
The song could easily be perceived as another “Independent Ladies” type anthem but for Savanna, it is a deeply personal topic that allows her to finally talk about an abusive relationship she endured as a teen.
“When I was in secondary school I had a boyfriend and he was just one of those who would tell you who to talk to. He told me I couldn’t speak to any guys, made me delete all the male contacts from my phone, I couldn’t go out with my family….my family didn’t know anything,” she confided to Loop.
“Now I am not afraid to tell the story. I understand a little better why I am the way I am now, I know who I am and I won’t go through or accept that from men again.”
Though her way of exorcising her demons, “Name Man” is a timely song aimed at empowering women in abusive relationships.
“I did the song and was able to get out what I was feeling in that moment and I wasn’t sure if people would pick up on what I am trying to say but it became more than that guy, it became about men who have no respect for women and I became frustrated, why do we have to live in fear, always have to be on our P’s and Q’s, why do men feel entitled to harass us?” she asked.
Since its release on December 10, the video for “Name Man” has close to 70,000 likes on YouTube, an impressive debut for a relatively new artiste.
Born Karyce Phillips, Savanna is not new to the world of music.
Daughter of legendary calypso producer and WACK 90.1 FM owner Kenny Phillips and sister to Kasey Phillips of Precision Productions and Kyle Phillips of Badjohn Republic, she lent her voice to the background vocals of songs such as Voice’s “Cheers to Life” and “Far From Finished” among others that were recorded at their studio.
Though she sang in the school choir at St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando and would sit in her room and sing Karaoke for hours, Savanna wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue singing even though her brothers called on her from time to time to assist with projects.
“I didn’t have the right channel, I didn’t know I wanted to and I guess I was being stubborn and I wanted to find my own path and create my own niche and find me,” she confessed.
“I went to university in Florida and it was by chance, Kasey needed something done and he asked me to sing on it. I said I could do this thing, people would appreciate my tone. Kasey always told me I had a baby voice.”
In an effort to forge her own path, she made friends with other producers such as Kit Israel of Advokit Productions and also spent some time in Barbados with Stadic, who carried Trinidadian background vocalists to that island for a project.
“Through that, I realised I could do this. I saw the artistes in action, I saw them write and sing their songs, I said this is nothing new to me, they weren’t singing soca which was good because I don’t see myself on stage in skimpy clothes wining down,” she said.
Though “Name Man” is classified as soca, Savanna wants to explore other genres.
And despite her past experience, her favourite topic is love.
“It is the easiest thing for me to think about. The love songs are always dear to my heart,” she said.
The first song she did to wet her feet and gauge the public’s response to her voice was a love song called “Right Away” with Hey Choppi.
Savanna said the initial plan was to release an EP but instead she will release singles and give each some time to shine on their own.
In between, she is still doing background vocals, farmer Nappy’s Backyard Jam among the songs she contributed to recently.
‘I am not opposed to doing the background for anybody. I love to sing, it is about music, not a genre or a particular artiste.”
Even though she is forging a path for herself in music, Savanna’s other passion lies in the environment.
She is the holder of BSc in Biological Science from Florida International University and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainable Development from the University of the West Indies, and works full time for a United Nations agency.