Hilton Samuel poses for Caribbean Life at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Anniversary Dinner and Dance Gala at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens in late October 2023.
Photo by Nelson A. King

As the holiday season beckons, prominent Tobagonian crooner and lead vocalist with the Brooklyn-based Caribbean IN-Sync Band, Hilton Samuel, says he is ready and looks forward to serenading audiences throughout New York City.

“I look forward to the various festivities where I would be able to serenade my audience with a variety of Christmas songs,” Samuel, a Brooklyn resident and co-manager of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean IN-Sync Band, told Caribbean Life on Saturday.

“My musical ability is not limited to R & B and calypso, it encompasses other genres, such as gospel, disco, reggae, blues and some Spanish,” added Samuel, who is already booked to perform at an event for Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman, representative for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, and at a church Christmas Gala in December.

“When I look at my career path musically and the many opportunities that were given to me to perform in the many arenas in the United States, I often wondered where would I have been musically had I not migrated to the United States,” he continued, stating that, on arriving in the United States, his only desire was to become an R & B singer.

“But I quickly learned that, in order to succeed with my music, I had to adapt and learn other types of music that made me more marketable,” Samuel said. “These adjustments also gave me the opportunity to work with a booking agent for approximately five years, where my specialty during this period was blues, jazz and Motown.”

He said that, when he compares yesteryear’s music with today’s, “there is quite a change.”

“I believe that most of the music from my era had many messages of life’s reality,” Samuel said. “Songs such as ‘Starting All Over Again’ can be interpreted in several ways from broken relationships to day-to-day challenges.

“Music by the Manhattans and Temptations, just to name a few, will never die,” he added. “And so, although I enjoy some of the modern-day music, I will always revert to the music of my era.”

Samuel said that, though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “negative impact” on Caribbean IN-Sync, he was “thankful for the gift of singing that the good Lord has blessed me with, because I was and still am able to perform throughout the five boroughs and wherever else I am needed.”

He disclosed that he recently completed a video showcasing his talent that would be shown throughout his regular work place, NYC Health + Hospitals, within the next month.

Samuel, who was born in Tobago, the sister isle of Trinidad, attended Scarborough Roman Catholic School and continued his education at Bishops High School in Tobago.

A dedicated and talented entertainer and community activist, Samuel said he spent the last 37 years entertaining and wowing audiences throughout New York, New Jersey, Canada, Connecticut, Atlanta and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Since coming to the United States 42 years ago, I have had many accomplishments both in my professional and musical careers,” he said. “God has blessed me with a strong vocal talent, and I remain constant in my service to Him and the community by sharing my talent to His people.”

Samuel said he first started singing at 14 and entered many competitions.

When he was 18, Samuel said that he entered a contest, in the early 1970s, called “The Scouting for Talent” in Trinidad and Tobago, as a solo artist, making it to the semi-finals.

Later, he said he collaborated with his sister, Jennifer, and became the first and only Tobagonians to win the coveted crown in the National Competition in 1979.

Samuel said their performance was so well received that the twin-island republic’s prime minister of the day, Dr. Eric Williams, immediately remarked: “That motor car is going to Tobago”.

Sponsored by the Brooklyn-based Trinidad and Tobago Alliance, Samuel said he and his sister traveled to the United States in 1980 to perform alongside The Mighty Sparrow and Calypso Rose, the undisputed Calypso King and Queen of the World, respectively, for the Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador at the Americana Hotel, now called The Sheraton.

Since migrating to the United States in 1981, Samuel said he has performed throughout the five boroughs of New York City, as well as in Connecticut and Canada, with various bands, besides Caribbean IN-Sync, such as Passion and City Players.

Besides The Mighty Sparrow, Samuel said he has had “the opportunity to open shows” for many performers, including Percy Sledge, Eddie Lovette and The Mighty Clouds of Joy.

As an employee of NYC Health + Hospitals, Kings County, Samuel said his talent is “showcased at events sponsored by the hospital.”

He said he also “charitably” given of his time to many organizations within and without his community, including churches that need his help.

These include: Coney Island Hospital (Black History Month Celebration); Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; Trinidad and Tobago Ex-Police Association; events in honor of Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; Kings County Hospital Center; Trinidad and Tobago Alliance; Isaiah’s Temple of Mt. Hope; River of Life Seventh Day Adventist Church; and 67th Precinct Community Council.

Others are: Guyanese Nurses Association of America, Inc.; Omega Chi Chapter of the Chi Eta Phi Sorority; Belize Queen of the Bay Beauty Pageant; DC 37 labor union; and events hosted by the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex- Police Association, and Club St. Vincent, Inc.

Samuel – who resides with his wife of 38 years, Beverly, and their children, Mark and Karyn – said he spends most of his free time “ministering in music at many churches and also in the community.”

He said he “firmly believes” that God has given him a talent and that it is his “obligation to give back and share this talent” with his community.