Within the past month, an unfamiliar voice has become a constant on the airwaves. Jalisa Jai-A Alleyne’s sultry vocals on Captivate Ya had many a soca fan wondering about the face behind this voice.
On July 10, that question was answered when the emerging soca talent made her debut performance at McBride’s at one of the early events in the post-COVID lockdown period.
For the 29-year-old performer, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of her life. As she recapped that experience for Bajan Vibes she said it was “amazing”.
“It was exciting and electrifying just to see people dancing. I was singing a passionate song that means so much to me. Hearing the band, it was a once in a lifetime feeling. It was amazing. I felt powerful. I felt like I could do anything. It felt like I was floating on air.”
Since then, she was also a part of the cast at the inaugural D’Music Summer Soca Fest, sharing the stage with some of the island’s top acts. Making her dream of becoming a soca artiste a reality has given the vocalist an unparalleled feeling of accomplishment.
“I believe that music has given me a true understanding of patience and taught me how to embrace my strength because I am balancing being a mother, working a full-time job and being an artiste.”
Jai-A is no stranger to performing. She started singing in church as a member of the gospel group Divine Inspiration.
“Music has always been in my blood and growing up as a child my parents would always play the music of the popular group The Escorts International, which my grandfather Jack Lee was a part of. I listened to songs like Who Ain’t Looking Good, Good Looking and Sixpence, and I remember being very excited.”
The artiste’s interest is not restricted to being a vocalist; song writing is also among her cadre of talents.
“I once read that a song is just a poem with a melody so that inspired me to start writing.” Her inspiration comes from life experiences, whether it is her story or a story that she was privy to.
Focused on excelling, she has aligned herself with one of the best in the field.
“I reached out to Michael Mikey Mercer for advice and he expressed his interest in mentoring a serious and dedicated artiste and now the rest is history.” The reigning Soca Monarch was present to watch his protégé stride purposefully into the limelight.
Jai-A believes her music expresses her confidence. “I believe in what I do, and I accept my strengths and my weaknesses,” she added. It comes from the heart and she strives to create material that is representative of her passion but is still very relatable. Her debut single satisfies that criteria. She explained: “It is about my life experience and that led me to write the song around the topic of You Can’t Find One Like Me, which is how everyone should feel about themselves.”
The performer is thrilled with the response that Captivate Ya has been receiving. However, due to COVID-19, there was a delay in the release time.
“Even though I was disappointed, I now call it the perfect delay because everything has now fallen into place. My music is taking me to unexpected places and I am meeting amazing talent and absorbing their teachings to better myself,” Jai-A reflected.
The singer is fuelled by the high of watching her soca career take life.
“What I enjoy about being a performer is the thrill of being on stage and having the opportunity to deliver a message through my songs. I believe I can make a difference,” she told Bajan Vibes.
The entertainer is already charting her way forward. “Within the next six months, by the grace of God, I will be recording and releasing the music video to Captivate Ya as well as releasing at least one other song.”
Though she has only released one song so far, she firmly believes that nothing can replace it as her favourite. “Captivate Ya will forever be at the top of the list because it says this is me, a strong confident woman.”
Not surprisingly, she draws inspiration from Alison Hinds and Patrice Roberts, two of the region’s top female artistes.
“I would love to do a collaboration with them because they are passionate about what they sing and their strength as female artistes comes out in both their songs and performances.”
However, Jai-A is cognizant that embarking on a career in this field is an expensive endeavour. “One major challenge which I would have encountered is financial constraints. I believe that greater emphasis must be placed on helping young artistes to keep soca alive. Right now, sponsorship is key for me.”
She added: “Getting the right people on board is important because I already have the songs written and I would love to have them produced and be able to do the music videos. However, I am still being mindful of the fact that everyone is recovering from a loss due to COVID.”
Despite her packed schedule, she still manages to slot in some time for recreation. “Outside of music, I have a real passion for Latin dance and karaoke.”
The product of the now defunct Louis Lynch Secondary School and Ellerslie Secondary School is an avid horror movies fan and gamer. She also knows her way around the kitchen and proudly touts her pizza making skills.
Jai-A believes everything happens for a reason, even though it may not be immediately apparent.
She advises newcomers: “Never become complacent because there is a silver lining. Trust in your own strength but never be too proud to ask for help. You will either help someone else or receive help. Embrace both roles. One last thing is that anything you set your mind to, give it 110 per cent because once you’ve achieved, it no one can take it from you.” (STT)
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