At 29 Alaine (Laughton) hot, at the top of her game as female reggae entertainer she’s had more hit singles than any other female reggae artist this year. Alaine is the heavy favorite female singer of the year. She’s the perfect combination of beauty and multi talent she is also an actress, copping a role in the Whoopi Goldberg movie ‘Clara’s Heart. Tall and statuesque, she possesses a sweet and beautiful voice and, is songwriter with depth. Her music, like her talent is multi genre, combining Jamaican Dance hall/Reggae rhythms with influences of R&B/Hip Hop in writing and vocal arrangements.
At age nine Alaine was a Red Cross Ambassador. She’s studied classical piano and hosted a popular children’s television show, had roles in numerous Jamaican television programs and theatrical productions, and done commercials, and radio jingles. She has an honors degree in Management and Psychology.
Alaine while living in New York worked in investment banking and employed vocal talent recording with Roc-A-Fella recording artist, Cam’ Ron, on Live My Life (Leave Me Alone). She returned to Jamaica in 2004 and, working with Jamaica’s top flight producers like the acclaimed Sly & Robbie (No Doubt ) and Donovan ‘Don Corleon’ Bennett (Sean Paul, T.O.K) recorded with Beres Hammond and has been burning up the charts locally and internationally with hit after hit ever since.
Alaine like Tami Chyn and Tessanne Chin, Cherine Anderson Kris Kelli, Brick and Lace, Calibe, Etana, Altyah, Queen Ifrica, Macka Diamond, Carol Gonzalez and Irie Love are paving the future as they expand the frontiers of Jamaican music, where females representation has, for the first time, in several years began overcoming the gender’s under representation.
Her songs ‘No Ordinary Love’ (charted in New York, Florida, Japan, Europe and the Caribbean,) ‘Deeper’ and ‘Wine’ were featured on VP Records (USA) Strictly the Best Volume 35 & 36 series and on Greensleeves Records (UK)‘The Biggest Ragga Anthems, “Heavenly” and ‘Jah Jah Cry’ appeared on Green sleeves Records the ‘Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems‘ while ‘Love Sound’, w/Beres Hammond was featured on Rhythm Doubles Sly and Robbie’s Grammy nominated Album. ‘Dreaming of You’ w/ Beenie Man, Rise in Love, I Love You w/ Busy Signal and ‘Sacrifice’ were hits around the world. Alaine has played at Reggae Sumfest (JA) the Caribbean and the United States. She’s toured high schools in Jamaica w/ other artists spreading the message of HIV awareness and AIDS prevention. Sacrifice is the title of her debut cd. Stan Evan Smith music writer spoke with Alaine about her career.
SS: How long have you been singing professionally?
A: 3 years
SS: Who were your major influences?
A: My musical influences include Marcia Griffith, (who I regard as the queen of reggae), Dennis Brown (who is a distant cousin of mine) Bob Marley, Mariah Carey, and several others from different genres of music.
SS: How would you best describe your vocal style and your music?
A: My vocal style is for the most part sweet and laid back. I really throw myself into my songs and emotionally commit to them. My music is all me. I write and arrange all my songs. It’s a mixture of reggae, dance hall, and R&B.
SS: As a female artist what are some of the obstacles that you have faced and how did you overcome them?
A: I don’t like to talk about negative experiences. I will put it like this I have had challenges but have overcome everyone with the help of God, my family and some wonderful people that He has blessed my life with. The biggest risk I have taken has been to quit a good job in investment banking for music. So I gave up the certainty of a retirement plan and a steady pay check for the uncertainty that is the music business.
But I maintained my faith in God and it has definitely been the best decision of my life.
SS: You studies classical piano at an early age, how does this skill help with your music?
A: I have recently stated producing tracks. So that is very exciting. I also play when I perform if the venue allows.
SS: Do you play any other musical instruments and do you play on any of your songs?
A: No I don’t play any other instruments. And I have recently begun playing on my songs.
SS: You have recorded with Beres Hammond What was that experience like?
A: Beres is a living legend. Working with him was incredible. He is such a positive, inspiring force. It was a true blessing collaborating on a song with him.
SS: Why did you decide to leave the secure confines of investment banking to pursue the insecure world of music?
A: Life is about being happy. The only thing that really makes me happy is music. I had a job in investment banking that provided me financial stability but zero happiness. I dreaded getting up in the morning to go and do something that gave me no joy. So while I held down the nine to five I was trying to establish myself as a songwriter in New York. But after my second promotion I would no longer have the time to juggle both careers. So I followed my heart…and I went in the right direction.
SS: Was it a tough decision and did you get support from friends and family?
A: It was scary. But I stepped out in faith and said many many prayers. My family and my friends were one hundred percent supportive.
SS: Do you think being a female helps to advance your career or has it hurt you?
A: I am happy that I have been as warmly embraced as a female artist and I look forward to bigger and better opportunities.
SS: Do you think that radio, TV and the concert stage offer the female artist the same opportunities to be seen and heard as your male peers?
A: It definitely is getting better for females. Historically, reggae music has been dominated by male artists. But it’s changing there has been a recent emergence of female singers, dj’s and dancers. So now we hear more female voices and see more female faces.
SS: What are some of the things you think reggae industry could do to make easier for female artists to break into the industry or succeed?
A: The music industry on a whole is not easy to break into. The reggae industry is no different. I think that anybody trying to sing should try to get good management and surround themselves with people who look out for their best interests.
SS: What can female dj’/singers do to increase their visibility on stage and on record?
A: Work hard and be consistent. Don’t give up. Again it’s important to align yourself with the right people.
SS: Your latest album Sacrifice; tell us what time of music is on it and do you have a favorite song
A: It’s a Reggae/Dance hall album with a mixture of R&B and pop. It really means a lot to me. It’s a culmination of three years of work. I wrote every song on the album and they all are special to me so it’s hard to pick one as my favorite but Sacrifice is a beautiful love song that made me cry when I wrote it so it definitely is up there with my favorites which include, Sincerely, Rise in Love, Obsessed and No Ordinary Love.
SS: Why do you think that promoters shy away from booking female artists?
A: I think that traditionally there were much less women than men in the industry. As that continued to change I feel there will be more shows with more female artists.
SS: List your most successful singles or albums.
A: No Ordinary Love, Sacrifice, Wine, Rise in Love, Dreaming of You, Give you what you Want, and Heavenly.
SS: Do you have difficulty getting airplay for your music?
A: No. I have been very blessed to have and excellent team promoting the songs and radio has really embraced my music.
SS: You are a singer but also an actress will we be seeing you in movies?
A: I am very focused on my music. That is my main job. However, I believe that there are no boundaries for me. So when the opportunity arises I will fully embrace it.
SS: Does your acting talent help you as a performer or singer?
A: I have always been on stage either singing or acting. So both forms of creative expressing help the other.
SS: You are sexy and in great shape. Do you work out?
A: Thanks. I go to the gym three times a week and try to eat healthy.
But I really love ice cream and cake and donuts. So it’s really about balancing and not over indulging.
SS: What are your professional goals as a singer?
A: I want to sing for as many people in the world as I can. I want to perform in large venues and tour the world. As long as I live I want to sing. I want to sell millions of albums and be better at my craft everyday.
SS: Do you think that you get the respect from the music business consummate with your accomplishments?
A: I am very blessed and grateful for my musical accomplishments. God has been so good to me. Respect is earned and everyday I am learning more how to earn more.
SS: Recall your fondest or most eventful experience in the music business
A: My fondest experience performing occurred while I was in Japan. I performed in one of the largest clubs in Tokyo and four thousand people turned out to see me. It was incredible even more so because the crowd spoke Japanese but was singing my songs in English. It was a very humbling and wonderful experience that I will never forget and look forward to repeating.
SS: List your worst experience in the music business.
A: Out of tragedy comes triumph and this was proven to me on my video shoot for Rise in Love. The video was originally supposed to be a one day shoot. But everything started falling apart namely cars breaking down, actors throwing tantrums and walking off the set, hurricanes, and wardrobe malfunctions. But as the song says, “We rise in love” and we did. The video turned out beautifully somehow the director Ras Kassa in conjunction with his wonderful team (which included my mommy) pulled off a miracle.
SS: Do you think your male peers give you the respect you deserve?
A: Yes. My male peers have been very supportive and respectful of me.
SS: Do you produce other artists or own a record label?
A: I have recently started to produce tracks with Don Corleon and look forward to producing artists in the very near future.
SS: Thank you Alaine and much success.
Stan Evan Smith is music critic, contributing Editor to Everybody’s Magazine, (NYC) Music critic for the Gleaner/Star NA. Staff writer, Jahwork.org, (California) Westindiantimes.net (Virginia) and Jamaicans. Com (Florida) and, contributing writer to POSH Magazine (Maryland). He can be reached stansmith24 @ hotmail.com. http://www.myspace.com/stanwsmith