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17th of July 2018


Life's a joy in The Rabbit Hole

Life's a joy in The Rabbit Hole

BY SADE GARDNERObserver writer

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

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Phylea Carley is living her dream as a singer at Sandals Ochi's The Rabbit Hole in St Ann. She has been main attraction at the venue since its launch in April 2015 and credits the gig for broadening her career.

“The Rabbit Hole is my baby, it's my therapy, it's my livelihood,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “I've learnt a lot of things on the job — how to master my voice in that space, how to perform being sick and having a hoarse throat... Showtime is showtime, no one wants to hear that you're sick. The Rabbit Hole has been the one to groom me and get me out of my shell.”

That it has. Decked out in gowns embellished with beads and rhinestones, accompanying her silk gloves and long pearl chains, Carley morphs into a 1920s jazz and blues singer on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday nights. Her 90-minute set includes classics like Nina Simone's Feeling Good and I Just Want to Make Love to You by Etta James.

“We created the product on the fly, the show is very organic. I have over 100 songs in my set list and I never know which songs I will use,” she said. “We read the energy of the audience; are they touching a lot, are they in the mood to party, can I get them to dance, can I get you to show love to someone? It's an experiment and a lot of observations; I really put myself in it.”

Eight years ago Carley was chosen as Anthony Miller's wild card in the Digicel Rising Stars contest. While she had no interest in auditioning, Carley wanted to pursue a full-time career in music and left the corporate world. Placing seventh, she was left on a job hunt and her skills were put to the test.

“My partner had a contract with Sandals for some production work and one day I went with him to pick up some contracts. When I showed up, a conversation was being had with the entertainment coordinator that they wanted a singer for The Rabbit Hole. I went on the patio, they looked up and asked what I do and I said 'I'm a singer',” she recalled.

Carley said she was asked to sing a song, and given a few weeks to prepare for the grand opening.

“I got the chance to be myself and be old-school, that 1920s Hollywood glam. I remember on the day I was feeling myself and feeling good. I had to prove to not only the (Sandals International) owner Butch Stewart and everyone else there but also myself, 'cause I didn't make it to the top three in 'Rising Stars'. Here I was given that opportunity.”

The Kingston-born artiste relocated to Ocho Rios for the full-time gig.

Phylea Carley's involvement in the arts traces to Wolmer's Girls' School where she was active in the speech and drama clubs and choir. She also performed in the pantomimes Runner Boy and Pirate Jack while part of the Little Theatre Movement from 2009 to 2010.

She is currently working on a travel lifestyle magazine and looks forward to releasing her EDM single, Out of Love, next month. It is a joint production between her manager Boyd James and Italian Black Living Project.

Her other songs include Fancy, Into You, Fool for Love and Something I Can Dance To.

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