Roatan recording artist Billy Avila, aka Bill$, is passionate about his island reggae music. But in the “no-hurries” spirit of his native island, he takes his time about it.
His first album, Bill$ Reggae Style, due to be released on I-Tunes this month, took five years to record. His second, Bill$ International, is planned for release in 2013. He is yet to perform his first live concert.
According to his official website, Avila, who grew up in Oak Ridge, made his first recording at 15 after “working his way into” a small local studio. But his career quickly took him off the island, first to Tegucigalpa, then to Mexico, where he spent five years with Ixabalank Musik. He is working on his second album now at Imperial Records in New York.
Avila’s island reggae has a much less somber and aggressive sound to it than traditional Jamaican reggae. Some tracks have a light calypso lilt, complete with steel drums on “4 You Baby.” He uses only original material, no copies of Jamaican standards. The lyrics, written by his wife, Jesery Thompson, contain “no bad words,” says Avila, and eschew drug and racial themes.
“The music I do mostly talks about Roatan,” says Avila. Nonetheless, to date Bill$ has attained more notoriety off the island than on it. He won a trophy at the 2009 Telethon for his song “International Girls.” His “Dance Passion” track won a best new artist prize from the Spanish “direct concerts” website oido2007. The track has also received 28,000 hits on his website.
In an effort to “bring it all back home,” Avila filmed his latest video, “4 You Baby”” to be released with his first album in June, at the Lighthouse in West Bay. An earlier You Tube version was filmed at the Roa disco in French Harbour.
Avila badly wanted to stage his first live concert with his five-member band on Roatan, at Jerry Hynds Stadium, during Semana Santa, to “send a message to people who’ve been supporting me all along.” But the concert was postponed until June for failure to line up sponsorship. It has since been postponed again indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Avila is set to perform live in La Ceiba July 9, followed by a tour of France and then on to St. Vincent for recording sessions with the St. Vincentian/Trinidadian artist Zoelah (Zolah Boyd). He expects to be back on Roatan in late July.