JARDINE "JADEL" LEGERE does not mind her “slow growth” in the soca industry. She has seen many people come and go but she is still here, a testimony to her stick-to-it-iveness.
The Diego Martin singer has released six songs for Carnival 2020 – Hold Me Close, Strings, Link Up, Priority, Closer and Waiting – and she has had hits, such as Take Control and Round and Round.
Even so, it has not been an easy road for Jadel. Over the years, she would release one song which received little or no airplay.
Before Jadel started singing soca, she sang R&B.
In her earlier years, she had an “obsession” with US singer Mariah Carey. She began singing R&B because of this and soon joined her school and church choirs.
She would do cover versions of songs for weddings and christenings. She even learned to play the piano at the Brass Institute in Port of Spain.
She then performed at venues, such as casinos where at one of them a member of the band Surface heard her and invited her to audition to be their lead singer.
In less than two years, she left Surface. However, a member of Traffik who had seen her performances, also asked her to audition to be their lead singer and she sang with them for two years.
She, however, had difficulties transitioning from R&B to soca, and realised that soca was “a different ball game.”
“One piece of advice I got was when you’re coming to sing soca you leave R&B out of your alphabet.
“I took that to heart and completely cut out singing and started singing grungy and aggressive. And they tried to give me an idea as to who sings grungy. They said, 'you would not make it if you singing nice songs. You have to say 'wining' and 'bam bam' and you have to sing it grungy.'
“That is why I started singing 'wining' and 'bam bam' thinking that was the way forward...”
Jadel does not think she received wrong advice or that she went about her soca career in the wrong way.
“It was all trial and error for me. I was not given the opportunity to be blessed with big producers at the time. It made my process in the soca industry a little longer,” she said.
In 2016, she won the International Soca Monarch (ISM) breakout artiste award with a chutney soca song. But this did not give her mainstream success as it was only popular in the chutney arena and did not “stand out much” in the soca genre.
Over the years, she tried many things to build her brand and sound.
She was advised to build confidence in her craft and to record one song.
“So, I was going with that and having whole faith in this one song and I realised I put my all into that one song and for nothing, whatever I did, it would not get played at all.
“I had the confidence. I do everything in my power. I do all the groundwork, whatever. I ain’t get no play. Nobody ain’t know me. Nobody ain’t know who Jadel is,” she said.
She then tried doing two songs, hoping if one did not play, the other would, but none of them got airplay. She often found the songs she placed the most confidence in were not successful.
But in 2017, she wrote a song that became a hit. That song was Take Control.
“It was the quickest I ever write, the fastest thing I say, I didn't even think it would get play as it was not my main focus. That was the song that got play and put me on the map,” she said. After her success in 2017, she decided the time had come for her to take control of herself and career.
She followed Take Control with her 2018 song, Round and Round which earned her a place in the Soca Monarch finals.
That year, she became pregnant with her daughter and she believes, besides her hard work, her daughter's birth has opened many doors for her.
Initially, some producers were afraid of working with her because of her initial style of singing soca but for the first time, she has been able to work with “big producers” like Anson Pro, Motto, Wetty Beatz and London Future. This year, all six of her recorded songs have been receiving airplay. She has also returned to her R&B/singing roots in songs like Hold Me Close.
“They were assuming I could not sing sweet, nice songs, not knowing that was my whole R&B style in the first place. I had to set that straight this trip,” she said.
All the things she has been through over the past eight years she views as a learning experience and is grateful for them.
That is why her motto for Carnival 2020 is plenty. She believes she has been abundantly blessed not only with her daughter but because of the doors that have opened for her.
Her only challenge this year is marketing her singles in a riddim-dominated industry.
“Because I am not a bigger act, they are not going to rush into their e-mails to look so it makes my work even harder to push this single by myself.”
While not having her songs played in the past rattled her confidence, she has a positive outlook on it. “Yes, there are people who have now come and surpassed me, but you do not know and I do not know what goes on behind closed doors.
“What they did and what sacrifices they made that was more than me. So
, I cannot look at someone else’s success and career and say why have they surpassed me and get big and I trying so long.
“I am very grateful for the slow growth in this industry because I have seen some come out right after me, out of nowhere, shoot for the stars and fall so hard it ain’t funny. They are nowhere to be found. I am still here standing.”
While she pursues her soca career, she is also growing a business, pursuing a degree in law, slowly building a studio and studied audio engineering to be able to “mix and master her own stuff.”
She has not let swirling rumours (like not being able to sing) distract her from her goal of becoming a local, regional and international soca ambassador.
Jadel hopes to one day inspire younger artistes with her stories of what it is like being a mother and woman in the soca industry. In the latter instance, she wants them to learn how to respond when men take in advantage of women artistes.
“I will show what you have to do in this industry to divert from the males that like to take advantage of their power.”
Asked if it ever happened to her in the industry, she said, “of course.”
But, “You have to be smart. You have to know what you are doing. Strategies and tactics. You cannot, under any circumstance, allow DJs or other people feel that they have power over you or hold your career in their hands. If you realise that person is not for you and do not want to help you. You move on, you do not deal with them and move on immediately.
“You don’t continue out of desperation. I know a lot of females may have done this...One DJ cannot make or break you,” she said.
“With females having to go with DJs for favours and stuff. That does not guarantee you airplay....”
She said younger women should have a manger and a representative so they would not have to go to DJs directly.
She said in the past DJs and others would ask, “when we liming?”
“When you ain’t lime, they vex and don’t want to play your song or whatever but not all people bad. There is a balance. Just deal with the good people. The good ones will put you through.”
In Jadel’s unfinished journey, patience and being smart are essential.