Exclusive Artist Diary with ... JAY SMOOVE - Feb 12, 2008
"There is no such thing as bad press, it’s good as long as they are talking about you."It's hard to say whether it is Jay Smoove's faith in god or personal character that allow him to always push forward and turn a negative situation into a positive one.
For example, after being rejected from the last season of American Idol, instead of being traumatised, he took advantage of the huge exposure he received.
He is now working on his first international album with a line-up of producers who worked with a range of names, from Trick Daddy (Top 10 US) to Fat Joe (Top 10 US), and Bone Thugs N Harmony (Top 20 US).
By Joshua 'Jay Smoove' Moreland
I was born in Bradenton, Florid and raised in West Palm Beach. My father was a musician in church playing keyboards and drums, and my mother sang there. I started singing myself around the age of 9. My parents were and still are very supportive of my music career.
The first time I touched a mic was one night in an evening service of my church (called ‘Gates to Heaven’). My dad was preaching at a youth night that we had on a monthly basis, called ‘Youth Service’, where the kids take over for the night, conduct praise and worship, usher the seats, etc.
Then, in the middle of the service my dad calls me up, as I was falling asleep at the back of the church, being tired from a long day of games and ice cream...My dad said “I want my son Joshua Moreland to come up and sing us a song. He sings around the house all day, while cleaning and playing games, in the shower…”
I was shocked! He was saying all those crazy and embarrassing things, and as a kid I was shy - my alter-ego as Jay Smoove was not there yet, it was in the making...so, dad brings me up, I'm shaking, the whole congregation is looking at me, he hands me the mic, the people begin to cheer me on, "you can do it!"
I look around, then close my eyes. I begin to sing and the next thing I hear is a roar of people cheering like they heard Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson on stage singing, but no it was me! So while I realised they really liked my singing, my shyness kicked back in and I sat down, feeling like all eyes were on me for the rest of the night.
Today I stand as Jay Smoove, but the Joshua Moreland inside me is still shy. That’s how it all started. By the age of 11, I was leading the adult choir while my dad directed, my brother Tarel played the drums, and my mom continued to lead praise and worship.
It was a month after graduating from high school that my little brother Preston Moreland, inspired and encouraged me to pursue music professionally. In middle and high school I was an athlete, a natural athlete, the only thing I projected is that I wanted to go to the NFL and play football, my favorite sport. I did not sing a note, and no one knew about my singing unless they went to my church.
Following my brother’s urging, I began researching and found an agency called Sarah Parker that dealt with entertainers (models, singers, actors, etc.). So, on one hot summer afternoon I walked in, and the moment I walk in, the agent says "You are perfect, you're a fit".
It turned out there was a music video shoot in Miami the next day, and I fitted the profile. Casting was on the same day, so I was asked if I can make it to interview and audition with the producers. Remember, I was still a church boy that had no idea about the industry or even half of the artists out there, let alone about how to audition. I’ve never even been to Miami before.
So I went with my dad, and arrived at Unique Casting. I was nervous as hell, all I saw was gorgeous girls I recognised from TV. My turn to audition came up, I introduced myself to the producers and they asked to see me sing and dance. I thought to myself, ‘second nature’. It didn't feel like a challenge at all.
Two hours later, I get a call from my agent in Palm Beach saying that I was accepted for the video and that they are going to pay me $500 for 8 hours just to dance and chill with gorgeous people all day...from that day forth, I decided I am going to do this for the rest of my life. I loved to sing and dance anyway, and would do it for free anytime, but to get paid for it is even sweeter.
Following that I went to FICE (Florida Institute of Culture and
Entertainment Arts) which is no longer around and then to CSB, the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.
At both schools I learned the basics of the industry, including how to conduct yourself as an artist in radio and TV interviews, reading contracts, contacting the right people, building relationships, recording etiquette, and much more.
This was vital and very important for me because I did not want to get screwed and cheated out of what I want as an artist.
Being in this music business for seven years, I have run into my share of con artists and bad business people. People that will promise you the world and the galaxy on top of it, and then in the end after they got what they want, disappear and leave you out looking like a fool, stranded and out of a lot of money and time.
I'm not one to mention names, but they know who they are, and they are looking for the next victim, but everything always comes full circle. But I learned one important thing from dealing with this kind of people that will stick with me for a lifetime – never burn bridges – never destroy a relationship, no matter how big or small the situation.
The best way to handle that is just to not work with that person or persons and/or company, and just keep moving. Don’t let it escalate beyond ‘nice doing business with you, but I’ll pass’. Keep that your answer, keep your head up and stay positive. This industry circle is very small.
Negativity in this business is a killer, so if you encounter a negative situation, turn it into a positive one. Take all criticism and negativity as juice to push on and be better than ever, believing in yourself is the first step to success. If you fall, get right back up, as I have.
What happened was that late last year I tried out for American Idol, and I did not make it to Hollywood! No, they did not choose me. Shocked? Me too! Instead, I got criticised in front of the whole world. Simon Cowell said he did not like my audition at all, he felt it was corny and over the top. Randy Jackson said I have a good voice, but I was not ready yet, and Paula Abdul agreed with him.
The end result was no, no and no, which for a moment hurt my feelings. But after the fact of feeling that way, I thought to myself, this was just a competition. Also, what the TV did not show is that there are three preliminary rounds before you even get to Simon, Paula and Randy. So out of 14,000 auditions, about 12 of us striving and hungry hopefuls were left in Miami.
I felt that just getting there to that point was an accomplishment! It was a gruesome competition, constant interviews,constantly trying to learn new songs, amazing experience. After my rejection, many fans were angered by their decision. Naturally I got negative responses as well, but like I said I used that as juice to help me get better and move even further.
The important thing was that now I had global exposure. In that situation, you either curl up, hide and disappear, or you use that energy and move forward, turn it for the better. Take it as far as you can. And indeed, it blew up for me in a way I could not imagine. My face was constantly on TV, with constant feedback from hosts and presenters not believing I wasn’t chosen.
I went on VH1, MTV, TV Guide and various radio stations across the country, talking about it. At one point some people even made a Youtube video saying that they have my back and what they felt about the judges…it went out of control.
Like I said, I took it as a competition and nothing more, I have complete respect and love for the judges. You win some, you lose some, it’s that simple as long as you keep it moving. Remember, there is no such thing as bad press, it’s good as long as they are talking about you.
Before all this American Idol exposure, I was already performing and projecting my voice to as many people as I could, from clubs, to festivals and schools, motivating kids to stay in school, showing them that there is a better way in life, rather than drugs, gangs and sex.
I have been and I still am a supporter and time giver to foundations such as the Cancer Society, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Urban League, Boys and Girls Club, and many more. I give my time and talent to the community I live in.
Later on I started to open up for some of the world's biggest entertainers, such as Lil Jon, Fat Joe, Sean Kingston, Trick Daddy, Keisha Cole, J. Holiday, Jaheim, Nelly and many more, touring all over the US.
More recently I performed live with Bounty Killa, Beenie Man, Sizzla and other reggae legends at spring break in Negril, Jamaica, hosted by
Rebel T Sound and Miami Puff Daddy (Sean Kingston's road manager). This was my first international tour, full of beautiful and gorgeous people and breath-taking beaches and landscapes.
I’m urrently working on my first global album, with producers such as Gorilla Tek (The Committee, ICONS, Trick Daddy), Donovan Knowles (Beyonce’s cousin), Ree-Dogg (Bone Thugs & Harmony’s Koch Records album), Nacho (Dipset), Ron Lawrence (Bad Boy Entertainment), Jay Nizzle (Cash Money, Fat Joe).
I’m handled by Cartelz
World Wide Management, and plan to tour Belgium, Holland and Germany in the end of the month. All this being done without a label, unsigned and independent and loving every bit of it!
I am still the same shy little boy who grew up in the church, enjoying ice cream and playing games, but now I can turn it on and off. And as Jay Smoove, I plan to leave a legacy before I leave this Earth. I’m here to progress and make a difference!
Artists interested in contributing to HitQuarters future chapters of Artist Diary are welcome to get in touch through our contact page
Read On ...