At an early age, his father Wilfred Minnis who played the violin encouraged Eddie to take up the violin as well, but that was short lived. His education began at St. John's College and The Government High School in Nassau. Upon completion, he went on to study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and obtained a BSc. Degree in Architecture.
The year was 1971 when he returned home from Canada. However, his love for art pulled him away from following through with his architectural pursuits. Eddie developed a passion for writing poems after one year of English at McGill, and this directed him into the music field. "The thought came to me that, maybe if I put my poems in the form of songs, then I could get others to record them and my message would come out through the songs" (Minnis 2004).
Without any formal training in music, Eddie's love for music and determination yielded his first hit "Miss Lye" based on a colorful bodacious character from a radio drama by Jeanne Thompson in which Eddie also played a character. This production was due in part to an alliance with Kenny Knowles, leader of Bahamian band Kenny & The Beach Boys.
Additionally, Eddie has over the years become one of the most influential painters. Through this expression, he has developed a style that reflects the look and feel of the islands.
Eddie Minnis - Capturing Bahamian life on canvas
Eddie continued to share his artistic talent with The Bahamas, however, combining it with an awareness of what was going on socially, through an editorial newspaper cartoon called Pot Luck. This cartoon editorial was very instrumental in capturing the latest gossip or headline news of the day for many years.
Eddie recalls an explosion of Bahamian music in the early 70's that also inspired him in his writings. Ronnie Butler, Tony McKay, Beginning Of The End all had a hand in shaping his musical future. In addition, the only radio station at the time, ZNS, the government-run station, often complained of not having enough Bahamian music to air. All of these factors encouraged Eddie to become more involved in the business. With calypsonians like Sparrow from Trinidad hot on the music scene, Eddie followed his lead in taking everyday occurrences in society and singing about them. After Eddie's hit song 'Miss Lye', Ronnie Butler being impressed with his writing sought him out and immediately they started a very successful musical journey together.
Eddie Minnis and KB (Kirkland Bodie)
It is widely accepted that Eddie Minnis filled a void in the early 70's with his brand of music. Many of his songs were filled with humor; some presented serious issues in a more sober manner; but all told the stories of how we live and how we play in the Islands of The Bahamas. The most successful album, 'Da Real Ting', featured some of Eddie’s most memorable songs, songs like People To People, Johnny, & Straighten Up An' Fly Right. Naughty Johnny has become even more popular now having been used for ring-play in many of the family islands.
Balancing his painting and his music became increasingly challenging as Eddie gained popularity. Ronnie Butler would play an even greater role in getting the music out of Eddie. Remember, there was no knowledge of how to play an instrument except for his very brief experiment with the violin. Eddie believes that this was a plus for their relationship, however, the reason being that since he had no real knowledge of music theory, no one could tell him that anything wasn't possible as far as the music went.
Many of his songs were written while he was out painting. Armed with a small tape recorder, "I would record the melody lines that I come up with so I don't forget them" (Minnis 2004). After putting together a portfolio of songs, Eddie would take a couple of months off in order to rehearse and prepare the songs to be recorded. This time would pull Ronnie and his band together to execute Eddie's plan. This expensive hobby as stated by Eddie was truly a balancing act. There have been very few live appearances by Eddie Minnis, but he hopes to do more in the coming years. These days Eddie lives on the island of Eleuthera with his wife and three children who are also artists. He's gone back to the soil. Bush teas, fruit trees, cassava, sweet potato, are not only themes for songs for Eddie; they’re a way of life.
There are a few regrets that Eddie shared with the author, the first being not taking advantage of distribution contracts for his music around 1973-74, and the other, listening to and paying too much attention to those who gave negative criticism, stressing that he was not a musician, not a “singer” etc.
"Looking back at the past, I think I would have paid more attention to the music I was doing and not so much at the criticism I was getting." (Minnis 2004). Admitting that these negative comments did affect and discourage him from time to time. With all that was going on with art and music in Eddie's life, he had no clue as to how popular his music had become. He’d heard that other parts of the Caribbean and certain communities in the United States were listening to his music.
Eddie Minnis - Receiving Cacique Award in 1996
Eddie Minnis is one of the recipients of the prestigious Cacique Award which he received in 1996. Recently his recordings have made a comeback in the re-releasing of some of his old favorites on CD mixed with some new songs. 'Church Out, Crab Crawlin' ' is only one of the new sounds of Eddie Minnis, offering commentary on Bahamians’ struggle to balance religious and secular life. He has nowhere to go right now, so we will be hearing more from him. In closing his interview, he advised young musicians to seek knowledge, constructive criticism, and training in order to succeed in this creative field.
Visit Eddie's website: http://www.eddieminnis.com/