Donovan Germain has always known how to choose the best background vocalists - like Twiggi, Juliet Nelson or Dwisdom - for his productions in his studios as on stage.
Michelle Jackson is one of them. She has lent her voice to a lot of songs for Buju Banton.
Let's go back to her career and her collaboration with Donovan Germain.
(February 2010 - penthouserecords.free.fr)
Could you please introduce yourself to those reggae fans who don't know you as yet.
My name is Michelle Jackson and I am a singer originating from Jamaica but now residing in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. So far I have many accomplishments doing background vocals for many artists and have one love album entitled "Love is what happens" done on the Tresbelle Music label with executive producer Beryl Dyght-Vacianna. This album was released in October 2003. Additionally, I have done singles for Danny "Axeman", Handel Tucker, Beryl Dyght-Vacianna on a compilation album called "Dreamsworld" and others. I am now focused on doing work for the Lord Jesus and will release a few singles shortly with the intent to get my name out there in the North American circuit and eventually do a gospel album sometime in the latter part of this year 2010.
When and how did you start your musical career ?
As a child, I always loved singing and sang with groups in church and in school. However, I started my professional music career in 1991 singing background vocals for Dwisdom under my maiden name Michelle Anderson. Whilst still in the University, a friend of mine who knew I that I loved to sing, passed on my information to a friend of the late Herbert "Pablo" Stewart. I was so afraid to meet with Pablo because I was very shy with my talent. Anyway, Pablo arranged for an audition after which I was hired for the part immediately. I still remember this time like it was yesterday !
Were you influenced by other singers ?
Anita Baker was one of my favorites. She is a wonderful singer and has a lower register like myself.
Have you ever taken any singing lessons ?
Only after I gave my life to Jesus Christ and committed my talent to the spreading of His Word. I was a member of the Praise and Worship team at my church in Jamaica and it was a requirement for the entire team to do. But my talent is just a gift from God and comes naturally.
Do you remember the artists for whom you did backing vocals ?
I have done background vocals on live performances for many artists including, to name a few, Julian and Damian Marley, Benjy Myaz, Dean Fraser, Mikey Spice, Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder, Beenie Man, Michael Rose, Junior Tucker, Judy Mowatt, Chevelle Franklyn, Prodigal Son, Anthony B… I also have done background vocals on studio recordings for Luciano, Toots Hibbert, Cocoa Tea, Gregory Isaacs… And the list goes on and on… Many I do not even remember sad to say.
Can you describe the specificities of the background vocalist's work ?
A background vocalist's work basically is to compliment the lead vocalist whether on stage or in studio. I believe that too many times when songs are being mixed, the background vocals are brought down too low... but that's my opinion. Background vocals create flair and really can make or break a song. Background vocalists not only sing but we also do coordinated moves on stage, we always have to keep alert and flow according to the mood created by the lead vocalist....We just add that finesse to the overall performance.
When and how did you get connected with Donovan Germain ?
I cannot remember the exact timing but I believe it was somewhere between 1994 and 1995 when I went to the Penthouse studios to do harmony recordings for Mikey Spice and Marcia Griffiths' song "If Only You Knew". Donovan enquired of me about doing background vocals for Buju Banton and I accepted.
About Buju Banton, you did a lot of backing vocals for him, in studio as on stage. Could you tell us more about your work experience with Buju Banton.
It was great working with Buju. There were many rehearsals. The experience was good travelling across the island as well as doing many tours worldwide. Travelling was extensive.
Do you remember the other Penthouse artists for whom you did backing vocals ?
Myself and the other background vocalists worked also with Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffiths and other artists but I do not even remember.
Are you still in touch with the other Penthouse background vocalists (Twiggi, Dwisdom, Juliet Nelson…) ?
I am still in touch with Twiggi and Dwisdom. I haven't seen Juliet in many years.
What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
Donovan was well organized and had everything and everyone in place for the shows to go well. Compensation was always fair and paid out in good timing.
At the strong moment of your collaboration with Germain, the Penthouse Crew featured artists such as Buju Banton, Tony Rebel, Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond or Marcia Griffiths. How was the atmosphere between artists at that time in the recording studio ?
I found that it was great ! Everyone worked well together. No issues.
Why did you not record any singles for Penthouse ?
As far as I can remember, I don't believe I was ever asked.
When and why did you stop working for Penthouse ?
I stopped working for the Penthouse label in 1998 because I felt it was time to move on.
Who are your favorite female singers among the current generation ?
Anita Baker would still be one of my favorites along with Whitney Houston and Chevelle Franklyn.
Do you earn a living with music or do you have another job ?
I currently work outside of music and also have a small business from my home. I have done a few concerts in the gospel arena but, as I mentioned before, I plan to release some new singles of songs that I have written, inspired by the Holy Spirit, within a month or so with the intent of releasing a full gospel album within the latter part of 2010.
To conclude, what are your plans ?
My plans are to continue growing in the Lord Jesus Christ and to do my part in spreading His Word through songs ! The old is gone...the new has come. I'm coming back a new creation !!!