“People always ask me how long I have been singing. I say I started at 5 years old but I know it was long before that. I am told stories of me singing when this or that was happening and I don’t remember these times so I must have been much younger than 5. I do remember constantly performing in front of thousands of people (in my mind). I would sing lead, back-up, and all the instruments. Microphone of choice was my mother’s deodorant spray, ” she laughs.
Jewelle performed for her first real audience at age six singing in a school play. She began piano lessons and continued for eleven years before turning her attention towards becoming a vocalist. Music and singing have always come naturally to her.
“I played whatever instrument that was being taught at school, plus my private piano lessons, but I always loved to sing. My mom and I would sing while she played the piano. It was just a part of who I was. I would make up melodies to memorize math formulas in high school and sing all through my exams.”
Her love for rich harmonies and the blending of voices inspired her to join a Gospel choir as a teenager. She would bask in the beauty of the voices and learn all the parts just for fun.
“At some point the Choir Director announced that I would sing lead at the upcoming concert. Lead? Why me? I was terrified.”
The choir performed all over Quebec, in Saskatchewan, and in New York. It was the most fulfilling musical experience of her life up to that point. That’s when Jewelle knew that that was what she was meant to do. While continuing her passion for Gospel music, a friend introduced her to an up and coming musician and they wrote and recorded songs together, hoping to be ‘discovered’. It was here that she started cultivating her own voice and style.
Jewelle began performing at a variety of Montreal venues with several Montreal bands and recording artists including Freddie James, Pierre Perpall, Dawn Tyler Watson, Wayne Tennant, Marie-Christine Depestre, and Michelle Sweeney.
“My childhood friend was diagnosed with cancer, and she encouraged me to pursue my dream. I left my job and that was that.”
Jewelle was introduced to Denis Maheux by Pierre Perpall. They formed the band Ad-Lib and simultaneously started working on the material for her current album.
“Denis inspired me to start writing again and we wrote amazing songs together, most of which are on this album. I think we are a magical musical duo. I always liked my voice but this is when I started to love it and really enjoy it.”
Jewelle continues to perform internationally and has had shows in Morocco, Qatar, Thailand, and Hong Kong. A riveting and versatile performer, Jewelle has opened for Matt Dusk at a gala function, and was described by an audience member as “the next IT girl”. She was also a featured artist on the television program, Belle et Bum, with Normand Brathwaite. Her ability to WOW her fans comes from her undeniable stage presence, gifted vocal range, and easy-going nature. Her first single, Give Me Love, from the upcoming album has just been released online and is already making waves.
“The album is like a funky-swing-r&b-pop groove. Fresh and inspiring. And then there is a little something that will take your breath away.”
Listen for yourself and see why people are talking about Jewelle McKenzie.