Many times we find very interesting persons, stories or events very near our own domiciles. Such is the case for me here in South Florida, where many speak somewhat negatively about the local music scene. I have heard much about the lack of live music venues, or lack of opportunities for artists of one particular genre or another. Nevertheless, there are many stories of artists who have worked hard to become well known musical stars. There are even more interesting stories of musicians who perform for the love of the art, as well as a small appreciative audience. Although Weekly Music Commentaryhas featured musicians from every corner of the world, I always look forward to the story about the artist from right in my own backyard. This week I am happy to feature the very talented singer/songwriter/dancer from right here in Miami, Jason Derulo.
Since the start of his career as a solo recording artist in 2009, Derulo has sold over 50 million singles and has achieved ten career platinum singles, including “Wiggle”, “Talk Dirty”, “In My Head”, and “Whatcha Say”. Even though Jason Derulo has yet to celebrate his twenty-sixth birthday, his list of career accomplishments are extremely long. It appears as if he has been in the music business for over twenty years. Perhaps it is because he got an early start.
After attending performing arts schools, such as The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and honing his talents as a singer and dancer, as well as acting in theatre productions like “Ragtime” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, Derulo won the grand prize on the 2006 season finale of the TV show Showtime at the Apollo. Derulo was discovered by music producer J. R. Rotem, who signed him to his record label Beluga Heights Records and Warner Bros. Records. Derulo got his start in the music business writing songs for artists including Diddy, Grant Goan, Danity Kane, Donnie Klang, Sean Kingston, Cassie and Lil Wayne, intent on becoming a solo performer.
One of the things most people close to Derulo find interesting is his work ethic. Most successful artists work extremely hard to produce the best music possible. However, Jason Derulo stands out even among other hard working musicians. In a HitQuarters interview, J.R. Rotem highlighted Derulo’s dedication to his art by saying, “Jason Derulo has one of the most impressive work ethics I’ve ever come across – he just keeps knocking out songs in the studio. That’s an amazing quality.” Jason Joel Desrouleaux, better known by his stage name Jason Derulo (an alternate spelling of his name which shares the same pronunciation) was born on September 21, 1989 in Miami, Florida, to Haitian parents. More than likely his humble beginnings within his hardworking Haitian-American family and community helped to shape his work ethic, and possibly drove him not to take anything for granted. Like most of us, our childhood environment does mold us into what we become in adulthood. Therefore, Derulo’s early surroundings most definitely fostered his outlook on music and life in general.
However, there was one life changing event that may have forever influenced every aspect of Derulo’s activities. After several successful years in the music industry, on January 2012 Jason Derulo was rehearsing a back flip when he fell and broke his neck. “The odds are crazy. I was either supposed to be paralyzed or not here at all,” he told Nightline. “It was a crazy break, freak accident. I’m blessed to even be able to sit here, let alone get on stage and still dance. It’s totally a miracle.” As Derulo discussed the details of the accident, interestingly at the very moment it happened, his first thought was not to let his mother know the pain he was experiencing. Somehow he was able to actually get up and walk to the car as his mother drove to the hospital, realizing he was in need of medical attention. “I’m in excruciating pain,” he recalls feeling at the time. “Every single bump feels like death.” At the time of the accident Derulo was rehearsing for his Future History Tour. The official diagnosis was that he broke one of his vertebrae. As a result, he canceled all of his tour dates. He would need a neck brace for seven months.
The accident certainly changed Jason Derulo’s outlook on life. “Life is short. All those cliché lines that you’ve heard a million times go in one ear and out the other, it became my reality,” he said. “I truly live my life like that. I don’t like to stay upset anymore. I don’t like to be in places that don’t make me feel good. I don’t like doing things that don’t make me feel good. It’s like, every second counts and I could be gone tomorrow.” His accident, he said, helped him grow as a musician as well. “I almost wasn’t here anymore. It was like, I got to be me. It was a revelation,” he said. “I got to be me and I got to do me. It worked.”
Although the accident was very serious, Derulo made a quick physical recovery and was back on stage and recording with a new purpose. On June 2, 2015 Derulo released his fourth studio album, Everything is 4. I have been listening to the album for several weeks and enjoyed the collection of Dance, Pop and R&B music developed by the young artist. Derulo is taking more creative control, and at this point in his career he should. Hopefully a new outlook will lead to much more musical success.
* photo by Brian Bowen Smith