Talk of the Town

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Published in Cayman Airways Skies magazine, By Sarah Sekula

If you haven’t heard him sing yet, chances are you will soon. He’s a young Caymanian songster with an impressive musical lineage who is rising to stardom one concert at a time.

Opening acts aren’t known for capturing a crowd’s attention. But that was simply not the case when 16-year-old Rico Orrett-Ebanks took the stage at last year’s Cayman Jazz Fest. When the teenaged performer belted out “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, people literally stopped in their tracks. And concert-goers were still engaged as he sang “Hometown Glory” by Adele and “Ordinary People” by John Legend.

He’s just that good.

Soulful singing, in fact, is in his blood. He’s got a huge dose of R&B style thanks to his late grandfather, Buddy Orrett. And a strong splash of gospel influence comes from his grandmother and opera-songstress, Daphne Orrett. “She is still singing and seems to get better with age,” says Orrett-Ebanks. On top of all that, his mother, Nina Orrett-Ebanks, better known as “Cayman’s Songbird” or “Diva Nina,” inspired his singing ambitions at an early age.

In keeping with family tradition, by 12 he was singing at his mom’s sold-out concerts. By 13, he was performing for Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Edward. Even the Hon. McKeeva Bush is said to be a huge fan.

So what’s next for this musical prodigy, whose voice has been compared to the near-perfect falsetto of singer Robin Thicke? For starters, he’s recording his first album, and in the long term, his eyes are squarely set on snagging a Grammy.

With that said, the Grand Cayman resident is certainly keeping busy. During the 2010 Winter Olympics he performed with a youth choir in British Columbia for the running of the Olympic torch, and back home on the island he has plenty of appearances scheduled, too.

At the end of the day, while Justin Timberlake remains one of his singing idols, Orrett-Ebanks says he’d most like to follow in his mother’s famous footsteps. “My mom has always been my inspiration, and most people say that I’ve captured her style of singing and her friendly and humble personality,” he says. “I guess that’s what makes her number one; it’s her connection with the audience.”

It seems he’s heading down the same path already. With his subtle dance moves and ear-catching tunes, it seems there’s no audience he can’t charm.