In an atmosphere of hurried microwave “stardom” and overnight “Divas” there is something to be said for an artist who makes a conscious, earnest investment to not only studying the mechanics of the music, but acknowledges the advantages to establishing an undeniable track record behind the scenes prior to making a bid for the spotlight.
While some new artists were busy conceptualizing videos or hiring stylists and assistants, rising talent Sherieta Lewis took a more organic approach to her craft; One that showed the understanding that success was only assured when built on the solid foundation of dedication, focus and sacrifice. A few weeks we caught up with Sherieta for a quick chat and this is what she had to say:
1. For those that may not be familiar with your style how would you describe your music? Specifically what is Soul-Jaying?
I have often been described as a soulful singer. I have fused this with a softcore deejaying style in many of my songs, hence the term ‘Soul-Jaying’.
2. You graduated from Immaculate Conception High School, one of the premier high schools in Jamaica. You had the world at your feet and could have chosen many directions. Why was your choice music?
I believe music is my destiny. It is what I do best and it flows my heart and mind effortlessly, I don’t think I could be as happy as I am in another line of work.
3. You began your career in the industry at a young age. At only eighteen you began singing back-up to International Reggae artist Tarrus Riley. How did that come about?
Wow, this story starts from so many angles. In a nutshell, I’ll say that when Dean Fraser was putting Tarrus’ team together, he had heard some background vocal work I had done for a friend at a studio. He was impressed and had Duane Stephenson contact me about becoming a background vocalist with Tarrus Riley.
4. Instead of immediately striking out as a solo you spent a cosiderable amount of time establishing yourself in the industry as an accomplished musician. Besides Tarrus, who else have you worked with in the industry and in what capacity?
I have done on stage backing vocals with Duane Stephenson, Diana King, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGreggor, Cocoa Tea, to name a few. I have written/co-written for Duane Stephenson, Marcia Griffiths, Etana, Luciano, Jah Cure and also for Tarrus. As a studio backing vocalist I have worked with almost every name in the business; too many to list.
5. As you embark on your solo career, what do you think is the most important lesson you learned from you time touring the globe with Tarrus and the Black Soil Crew that will be the greatest benefit to you moving forward?
I’ve learnt that being a soloist is NOT easy work. It takes a great amount of LOVE, DISCIPLINE and SACRIFICE. I’ve also learnt that all the work put in will be worth it- there is nothing more gratifying than seeing an audience singing your songs and enjoying your performance.
6. You’ve recently released three singles among them is the song, ‘Reggae is Life’ which has garnered a considerable amount of attention within the international Reggae community. How did that song come about?
‘Reggae is Life’ was produced by Donovan Germain of Penthouse Records, recorded on the Big Stage Riddim. I have been working with Mr. Germain for a couple months now, started out doing studio backing vocals, and he was impressed with my work. So he gave me a CD with a number of riddims and told me write- ‘Reggae is Life’ is what came from the Big Stage Riddim. It’s simply a tribute to Reggae Music, its foundation builders, and the artistes who continue to represent the genre to the best of their abilities.
7. Please tell us a little about the other songs you’ve released as well.?
Prior to Reggae is Life, I’ve recorded and released two songs: ‘Lies’, produced by Rory Gilligan on the Heavenless riddim and ‘In the Name of Love’ produced by Shawn Kong and Dean Fraser (Island Star/Cannon)
8. How does it feel to finally be on your own and has the response been so positive?
I am enjoying my career so far. I have encountered a few obstacles, but as they come, I learn how to deal with them. There’s always something new, and I am beginning to understand, accept and appreciate what is required of me to succeed. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; producers, other artistes, radio djs and the public have been extremely supportive and encouraging. This has been a constant source of motivation.