Young Musicians Aim to Help Katrina Victims

By Joe Walker

     Hurricane Katrina has hurt a countless number of people – both physically and emotionally. Families and homes have been lost; loved ones have gone missing. Adults across the country give their thoughts on the daily news, but what do their children think?
  Romel & Noel – a rapping/singing hip-hop duo that are just 8 and 6-years-old, respectively – have put their feelings into song.
   “Katrina,” the latest single from Romel & Noel, is an emotional, heart wrenching song, which finds the two young brothers from Chicago, who now resides in Muskegon Heights, MI, conversing about the people who have suffered in this event, including their grandmother. Romel, being driven to tears by the sites on the news and the pain of his Grandmother, asked his mother and father if recording a song could help the people in need. Noel, the youngest of the two, looks to his big brother for answers as the pair rap and sing over tear-jerking production. Their Grandmother’s home was washed away in the Katrina flooding. All proceeds from “Katrina” will go to help the victims of the hurricane.
     Romel Joseph Colvard and Noel Dante Colvard are part of a musical family. Their mother, Hallema, begins singing to the boys from the day they were born. Her vocals introduce them to melodies, making words and sounds familiar to them early on. Their father, Big Mel, a producer/singer/song writer, is a former member of the platinum-selling group Public Announcement and the CEO of Big Mel Product, an independent production and recording company. The emergence from their father’s shadow came sooner than expected.
     “I call them Hip-hop Babies,” Big Mel says of his sons. “When I look at them, they don’t look like a six and eight year old. They look like big boys. I look at their faces and see so much confidence. But they’re just these little dudes. They’re like grown men trying to come out these baby’s bodies.”
     Romel begins humming melodies while only eight months old, playing the guitar by the age of four. Noel develops a passion for keyboards, rapping and performing by age three. Their father, knowing he has something special on his hands, quickly introduces them to the recording process.
    “When they’re in the studio they’re focused,” Big Mel says. “When they get stuck on a line or a part of a song, they help each other out.
     Romel and Noel practice their singing, rapping, performing and overall presence for several hours a day.
    “They’re always asking for more too,” Big Mel says. “When are we going to record, when are we going to do a show, when are we going to shoot our video? I just tell them when God allows, so when it does finally happen they’ll know it was meant to happen at that time. They are SO focused and ready to do this that it scares me.”
    Multi-platinum recording artist, Twista, also from Chicago, shares a similar opinion of Romel & Noel.
   “That’s crazy [how good they sound] … especially for them to be so young,” Twista says. “They rap better than half the [artists] I know now. Somebody is going to sign them.”
    Romel & Noel’s independent debut album release, Hip-Hop Babies, is already generating a buzz and receiving rave reviews. The first single, “Put Your Hands Up,” is still receiving radio and video play throughout various parts of the country. The second single, “Puppy Luv,” is impacting now. With “Katrina,” the young brothers aim to let the world know that your children are listening, they are watching and they do care about what is going on.
    “You know the music industry needs them right now,” Big Mel says. “Kids their age listen to the music [adults] listen to. They need something to keep kids in a kids place. That’s what they bring. But they are bringing it at a grown person level too. Hot rhymes and beats that everybody can enjoy without cursing, and they talking about stuff that kids, and us as former kids, can relate to and enjoy for years and years to come.”