Reggae songstress Alaine - "I feel God is directing my life"

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By: Claude Mills
Photos by: Carlington Wilmot

Alaine-Singer-DancehallSexyGirlsxxxxCarlingtonWilmot-YardFlex.jpgReggae songstress Alaine never gets tired of people coming up to her and saying with complete innocence:

"I love your song, yu have any more?".

The song everyone seems so hopelessly enamoured with is the breakout charmer carved in lover's rock oak, 'No Ordinary Love'.

And even though she is an established force in the business, what some artiste might have misinterpreted as a 'complisult' (compliment and insult in one) never rubs Alaine the wrong way because the song occupies a special place in her heart as well.

"That song has wings, and I got a lot of promotion from people who have heard and loved that song, I get comments from people who say that song made them fall in love again, and that's an incredible feeling," she told YardFlex.com.

The song charted on the New York Reggae Charts as well as on various Caribbean and Jamaican charts, and the music video has also quickly become a favorite among viewers and was the number one requested video for five straight weeks on one of Jamaica's largest video request shows called the E-Strip.

"The video also got play on MTV Tempo, and was one of their top ten most requested songs, and that has given the song more wings because people in the Caribbean are hearing the song and seeing me," Alaine said.

Alaine pauses here as Razz, the selector from the dynamic duo, Razz and Biggy, enters the Red Hills Road studio. As he squeezes past her, she reaches out a demure hand and rubs his belly in sisterly sort of way. We're not sure if he misinterprets the gesture, but he giggles like a schoolboy intoxicated by the first blush of love.

But it is easy to understand Razz's reaction. The American born, Jamaican-raised Alaine is a 5'8 stunner. To spend a few minutes with her is to be captivated. Being in the corona of her presence could inspire you to quote Shakespeare....the brightness of her cheek would shame those stars (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II). It is easy to be impressed by her intellect, her authenticity and to be blown away by the steely ambition and passionate drive beneath those soft curves and bedroom eyes.
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She spoke to us about her decidedly Jamaican 'out of many, one people' origin.

"My father is a mix-up black man from St. Elizabeth who looks like Haile Selassie" while my mother is a mix-up Jamaican black woman. My great-grandfather was Jewish, and probably that's why I don't eat pork, just bacon," she said, smiling.

However, it is her drive and ambition which defines her. After all, how many persons do you know who would quit a high-paying job after securing a coveted promotion merely because this turn of good luck would take them away from their one true love?

Alaine did.

After graduating from the University of the West Indies, Alaine moved to New York in 1999 where she juggled working in an Investment Bank (JPMorgan) while pursuing her songwriting career. Her efforts resulted in her songs being recorded by artists signed to major record labels such as Bad Boy and Jay records. She also worked with artistes from the Philippines such as Rachel Alejandro as well as Lynden David Hall of England. Alaine has also sung hooks for Roc-A-Fella Recording artist Cam'Ron in the songs 'Live My Life' from the album 'Come Home With Me’(Roc-A-Fella 2002), and Yeo from 'Music Inspired by Scarface' (Def Jam, 2003).

"It was rough, I would work from 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m., and then I was in the studio from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., I got no sleep for almost one-and-a-half years. And then I got promoted again, and I realized I would have to start traveling to represent the bank, and I would have no time for music. So I quit my job with its security and retirement plan and moved back home," she said.

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Since returning to Jamaica in July of 2004 Alaine has worked with some of the island's top producers including the internationally acclaimed Sly Dunbar, Donovan Don Corleon' Bennett, Arif Coper, Leftside and Esco, Daseca, and Mikey Bennett.

In an industry gone rancid from stale samples and stagnant beats, many critics regard her as a breath of fresh air who pushes the genre's soulful horizon with her candy cane harmonies, and pastel piano textures.

"At Sumfest 2006, I was able to show that I am a musician as I played the keyboard, and people were very receptive to that. I had rearranged 'No Ordinary Love', got three background singers, and created a R & B vibe with a piano intro. The beginning was slow and moody, the second verse was a one-drop and then I slowed it up and brought it back down. The crowd loved it," she gushed.

Alaine is an accomplished musician in her own right, having studied classical piano for four years. As a child, she secured roles in numerous Jamaican television programmes and commercials, radio jingles, and theatrical productions. Industry insiders remember her as the one who sang the jingle for the super-popular Victoria Mutual Building Society television commercial in the early 1990s.

This overachiever had by the age nine, been a Red Cross Ambassador, performed in several cabaret shows and national events, hosted a popular children's television show, and landed herself a role in the movie Clara's Heart starring Whoopi Goldberg.

But despite her accomplishments, she is no primadonna.

"I am a work in progress, I just feel that Jamaican and Caribbean people are talented yet they are under-appreciated, and a lot don't get the opportunity to do what they want to do. I want to eventually help other people with similar ambitions to fulfil their ambitions and work hard at what they want to achieve," she said.

Alaine manages herself, but her booking is handled by Headline Entertainment.

She is now collating the singles for her debut album.

"I have a lot of singles, several of them are unreleased, and there are a lot of sides to me, reggae, R & B, neo-soul influences, but at the same time, I am not going to be all over the place with my material," she said.

She writes and arranges all her vocals, which sparkle with her R&B/hip hop influences, and the buzz on her on the street and in the industry is incredible

"It's good that people are talking, that means I'm relevant. At the same time, I appreciate the positive vibes, and happy to be recognized. People embrace me on the road, and I am just havin' a great time," she said.

"I feel God is directing my life, I step out in faith a lot, and if you do that, and trust in Him, you can't go wrong. It is now the time for singers, both male and female, and the risk seems to be paying off and that my career will continue to grow."

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