While many female artistes in Jamaica are focused on climbing to the top, and doing so quickly, none of that seems to matter to the reggae-rocking old soul that is Joelle Clarke, or, as most people know her, Jovi Rockwell.
The reggae genre, with its far-reaching influence, along with Jovi Rockwell’s uptown meets downtown flavour, has allowed her to gain international attention from the likes of Ne-Yo, Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion), Lil’ Wayne and Major Lazer.
“I’m not a cookie-cutter artiste. I have to feel a little dangerous, and what that means is to find the edge,” Jovi told The Gleaner.
The reggae singer recalls the first time entering Don Corleon’s studio where Party Onwas recorded on the Jonkanoo rhythm. It was the single that launched her career in Jamaica’s dancehall scene in 2005.
“After being introduced to Cool Face, the first thing I had to figure out was how my sound would work on a dancehall rhythm,” she said.
Fast-forwarding two years, Errol Dunkley’s You’re Gonna Need Me was reincarnated with the collaboration between Rockwell and Mr Vegas, but what many persons did not know is that the idea came out of a songwriting session for Mr Vegas’ Hot it Upalbum.
Ne-Yo noticed Jovi’s passion and stomach for hard work while she worked with him at Compound Entertainment.
“He really opened up a lot by teaching me the art of writing songs, harmonising and vocal production. Just listening to how he would vocalise, if he said the word ‘bright’, it sounded bright. I learnt many techniques from Ne-Yo,” Jovi said.
The reggae singer would later break into the live music scene in Los Angeles. The US-based artiste continued songwriting with Major Lazer.
“I never had a preference, whether freestyle, live or recorded, because as a songwriter, all play a part, but freestyle a lot. I get inspired by different things, so as a musician (who plays the guitar and keyboard), I would play and then write lyrics to it. My freestyle is where the magic happens.”
“Sometimes in the studio, when I reach a plateau, I will freestyle then listen to it and pull out the gems to piece together what I was stuck on, so my freestyle is really key.”
Jovi said that her focus has not been to make it on one of the popular rhythms. In her 13-year career, she has not put out an album. She performed at Shaggy and Friends charity concert last week, but has shrugged at suggestions that a rebirth is in the making.
“I’m not planning a comeback, because I never left. I feel like I never went anywhere because I was always just doing things behind the scenes – just going with a flow which has led me here. I have had the opportunity to be a free spirit wherever the flow takes me, as long as I create work there and the energy always brings me back here,” said Rockwell.