J’maine Jones. If you are unfamiliar with this name now, WRIN [We Rock It Natural] assures you won’t be for long. The singer, songwriter and actor was as a semi-finalist on Canadian Idol and toured internationally with the Idol team for almost a year but upon his return to ‘The Six’, he made a bold decision to move to the US to further pursue his dreams. In 2014, J’maine walked out onto the historic stage at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and stood before music legends Micheal Bivins, Dougie Fresh and Gladys Knight to belt out his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s classic, You and I. As the show’s host Tony Rock, announced that he was originally from Canada and was bi-lingual, you could see the energy of the notoriously judgmental audience grow dark, possibly questioning, “What does a Canadian know about soul”? From the first note to the last, J’maine’s eyes were shut but upon opening them he saw what many other hopefuls only see in their dreams; the audience on their feet cheering and applauding. J’maine went on to win the competition and one of the things We Rock It Natural hopes you gain from this interview is (other than introducing you to an amazing artist) that sometimes it takes a bold decision to kick-start your dreams.
We Rock It Natural: You are a Canadian transplant to New York, what was the deciding factor that made you decide to pack up and follow your dreams in the Big Apple?
J’Maine Jones: I had recently returned from touring with Canadian Idol and I was working a full-time desk job with a security company. As I was typing on my computer one day, the thought hit me “this can’t be all that life has to offer” and after that I knew I had to make some serious decisions”
WRIN: How much support, artistically did you find in Toronto? Was it hard to pursue your acting, music and performance goals from ‘the six?’ JJ: The only reason I chose to move was, in my experience, there weren’t many full-time opportunities for a singer to make a living in Toronto and the opportunities that were available usually went to a network of people that were familiar with one another which is understandable because you want to hire someone dependable but that left little room for newbies like me.
WRIN: What advice would you give other artists who are considering following their dreams and moving away from home?
JJ: I would say, once you know what it is you want to do, or what your talent is, MASTER it. I recently read that it takes 10,000 hours or 7 years to master a gift or talent so my advice would be to learn all you can about your specific talent. Enroll in a class or start on your own but whatever you decide, it is important to know all you can about your particular talent and that you can start from wherever it is you live. I would also advise that when you think of moving, relocate to the area that has the most opportunities for your particular talent i.e. New York is the home of Broadway etc. I believe we are given a gift or talent to service humanity not to chase fame so I would say, on your pursuit of your dreams, look for opportunities where you can use your talent to serve others and success may be just a bi-product of having the right knowledge, talent and a pure heart.
WRIN: What are some of your best and worst experiences you’ve had while living in NYC and pursuing your dreams?
JJ: My best experience, by far, has been winning the BET Live/Apollo Live competition because that very same historic stage is where many of my favorite legends (Micheal Jackson, Stevie Wonder ) got their start and have gone on to very, very successful careers. It’s amazing to think that I am following a similar path. The other, so far, was performing the US & Canadian national anthems at Madison Square Gardens before a Raptors vs Knicks NBA game. Being from Toronto, I had an opportunity to pay homage to where I am from with the Raptors to the left and pay respect to my new home of New York with the Knicks to my right. It really couldn’t get any better BUT the fact that it was at Madison Square Gardens where many singers dream to perform made it surreal. One of my worst experiences so far is when I first moved here, I hired a lawyer to work on my visa status who ended up not being a lawyer at all resulting in the loss of a few thousand dollars.
WRIN: How big of a role does social media play in keeping in contact and informing your fans of performances, new music etc?
JJ: In 1 word, HUGE! Especially as an independent artist, you don’t have the benefit of a PR team that works on your behalf full-time to keep your fans up-to-date so it’s all up to you to build your presence, connect with your fans and keep them informed. Between Facebook and Instagram, I currently have over 5,000 followers so when I post about an upcoming show, most of my pre-sale tickets are as a direct result.
WRIN: Finally, what would you say keeps you motivated as the road to success is often paved with many ups and downs?
JJ:I would say a couple things keep me motivated. Firstly, the feeling of ‘there is still more to do’ coupled with the accomplishments that I have achieved along the way (Canadian Idol, touring in Asia for 3 years, the Apollo and opening for Neyo, Trey Songz and others) have served as positive reinforcements but even during times of ‘grinding’ ( performing atbar mitzvah’s weddings, etc) what keeps me going is how far I have gotten so far. Secondly, they say that most people quit right before their ‘big break’ take Jennifer Hudson as an example, if she quit because she lost American Idol she never would have auditioned for Dreamgirls, where she ‘broke the internet’ by singing ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ which also resulted in her winning an Oscar. Stories like that keep me going. ‘Quitters never win’ is not just a saying but a universal truth and I know that my gifts or talents were given to me for a reason. As I’ve said before, I try to make sure that my pursuit of my goals have more to do with serving a higher purpose instead of just for fame so I know that this is my destiny.
This interview was originally published by www.werockitnatural.com and has been reposted with permission from the author.