by Kimberley Cummins
People often say that everything happens in its time … whenever it is supposed to happen.
Well, last Sunday night Jabarrie Hurdle’s time came when he proudly stood tall as the 2012 winner of the 36th Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest.
After three previous tries and much doubt he sat in the men’s changing room of the Plantation Garden Theatre on the final night listening and feeling a bit threatened as the crowd ecstatically cheered a favourite and his nearest rival Sharece Chandler as she sang her heart out. Learning over the years not to let the crowd get to him, with the lone goal of winning on his mind, he left all doubts in the changing room and took to the stage focussed and confident to give two brilliant performances to be crowned the winner.
Whilst those in the audience that night may have admired him for his confident and electrifying performances, the road to that point was not at all easy.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the 20-year-old said that his stage persona was uncharacteristic of his usual self. He described himself as a shy, very reserved and self-doubting person but from the time he hit the stage the music took control of him and he transformed to what some had sometimes described as overconfident.
“People see me on stage as this person who has a lot of confidence but back stage I am just someone who is totally different. Before I go on stage I am like a fish out of water, I am so nervous; at rehearsals I would be good but you see from the time I have to go on stage I just get nervous – butterflies come.
“Auntie Merle [Niles] really pushed me … people don’t even know but she is the backbone to my confidence. If it weren’t for her I probably would not perform like that or have such confidence on stage. During the years auntie Merle always had confidence in me, from day one. Last year I had the most points from preliminaries (730), the most points in the semi-finals with 890 leading by 92 points then to come final to be placed third was like a slap in the face – my confidence was trampled.
“There were times when I was like, ‘I don’t think I will come back, this is it for me’ and she was, ‘Jabarrie, if this is what you want to do you should push it regardless of if people think you were unfaired’.”
Hurdle, who is fluent in French and Italian, was first introduced to the Teen Talent contest when at just six years old his grandmother, Goldrita Hurdle, would let him accompany her.
He said she encouraged him to enter the show and he always wanted to but because of his shyness he opted out. It was only in 2009 when as a contestant in the Lester Vaughan School pageant he received an encouraging crowd response for his rendition of Raise Me Up, that he decided to enter the competition later that year.
In his first year he did not place but probably because the judges would have seen some potential in him, they recommended that he advance to the semi-finals.
At last Sunday’s final he performed Neil Sedaka’s Solitaire and the 1945 classic You’ll Never Walk by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
The St. Michael resident said they were two of his favourites and he chose to sing them because each time he did he felt he could relate to the lyrics.
“I was practising Solitaire from the time I entered the competition; I could not get it sing but I said that the day if I got this song mastered it will give trouble [in competition] and it took me three years to nail this song. You’ll Never Walk Alone — I love that song. I picked that song because it was kind of a symbol of me throughout the competition.
“There were times when I really wanted to give up and my mind told me ‘just keep doing what you are supposed to do and you’ll never walk alone’. I choose songs that I can relate to and that I feel, and I felt that song and I feel that is why I performed it so good.
“Honestly, I had nothing planned. My plan was just to go out there and execute for me; if there was any plan it was just for me to find the right songs and just practise and practise and when the time is right just sing but when I hear music my mind just… I can’t explain,” he said as he smiled.
One of the prizes he won was a recording contract.
Though he is currently enrolled at the University of the West Indies as a second year accounting student, he said he would use the contract as a foundation to gain a career in music because he believed music was his future.
“I’m just taking it one step at a time. If an event arises where I would have to choose between a career in music outside and school, I will chose it (music) because things have changed – there are so many opportunities now. Yes education is the key but I’ve always learned that opportunities like that only come around once in a lifetime. I honestly think it is a gift and for me if I did have to get a call I would take it … Music is my future.”