It’s never too late to reach for your dream. For Andrea Douglas Penn, that dream is music. At 47, she debuts her first single today as rapper Andi D. “Island Girl” is now available on all major digital platforms.
Born on St. Thomas, Douglas Penn was raised in New York City, where she developed a passion for music, particularly rap and hip hop, which she said was the “in thing” at the time. In addition, she spent summers on Tortola with her father, who was a music producer with his own studio.
Her dream to become a rapper was abruptly put on hold when she became pregnant with her son at the age of 18, and six years later, the birth of her daughter. Motherhood took up all of her time, but now, “my son is 28 and my daughter will turn 21 in December, so this is my time. I have no reason not to do this.”
Douglas Penn returned to St. Thomas in 1993. In 2012, she recorded a single about her struggles raising kids and going through a divorce, which featured an intro by reggae artist Pressure Busspipe. Three weeks before she was scheduled to produce the video and release the song, she lost her brother. Two weeks after that, the family experienced another loss, so she put the music on hold again and never released the song.
With the kids grown, and at the encouragement of her current husband Joe Penn, Douglas Penn felt ready to pursue her dream once more. Staying home during the coronavirus gave her the time to concentrate her efforts.
“Because of COVID-19, I don’t have my two jobs, at Coral World Ocean Park and as a taxi driver, so that’s a disappointment, but my motto is that every disappointment is a happy surprise. I looked at it like maybe it took me not having those jobs for me to focus on my true passion, and that’s why I’m doing this. I’m just going it give it my 100 percent and I believe something is going to work out. You have to believe in yourself and everything else will fall into place.”
Though it may feel intimidating to start a career in a field where most of the artists are more similar in age to her children, Douglas Penn has decided that her maturity and experience would give her a unique perspective that younger rappers may not have. With “Island Girl,” she draws from her own experiences and mixes rap, hip hop and a little bit of reggae into a positive, motivational message.
“Everything is timing, because I feel if I would have pushed my music years ago, maybe I would have been rapping about things that don’t make sense. Just during this process, I’m looking at all the other rappers. Everything they say is something I don’t want to listen to, so I think there’s going to be a market for some people who want to listen to something positive and uplifting, that doesn’t have the vulgarness. Right now, I just want to have my story in my music. The theme of the single is just an island girl following my dreams, the time is now, and just making it through the struggles that I’ve had. It’s something that people can relate to.”
Her husband, Joe Penn is behind her all the way.
“She has done so much work, put so much research into the music that she’s so passionate about, and I support her 150 percent. What I tell her is I can’t go out in front of her and pull her. I can only push her, assist her, in whatever direction she wants to go. We’ll find a way to make it work.”
Although the song itself comes out today, the video is in production and should be released in the next couple of weeks. CDs are also being produced. Visit the Andi D Facebook page for updates and links.