How It started:
My first memories of singing were pleasant. I remember going to the retirement home where me and my older sister would belt out ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ for my great grandmother and all the other folks inside. I must have only been…5 years old at the very most?
I would quite happily sing for anyone and everyone. Headlining shows in the living room of my house in front of my parents, my dad would introduce me in the most extravagant of ways:
“Would you please welcome, for one night only, all the way from England…Jaaade Shepherd!”
This would typically be followed by the eager applause of my parents who would then sit quietly and endure my rusty acoustic performances. Bless ’em. I don’t think they really had much of a choice!
Okay, we’ve established that I never had a problem with singing in front of people…until my first year of secondary school. Of course, being in the lowest year at an entirely new school, I wasn’t cool to begin with. It was only very early on in the first term and for some unknown reason I found myself on my way to school on the top deck of the bus, right at the front…with all the ‘cool’ kids. I felt like a fish out of water to say the least. I can’t remember how the topic of discussion arrived at music, but it did, and I piped up for the first time, saying that I could sing…BIG mistake.
A few of the older kids asked me to sing a bit, show them what I could do, so I started singing the only song I could remember at least the first verse and chorus of. It was Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’. It was after a few bars of the first verse that came the response…the whole bus erupted into fits of laughter. Once some of them managed to catch their breath again, they proceeded to make jokes about how bad I was at singing. Which, to be fair, was most likely true at that point. As soon as the bus pulled up outside school, I bolted down the stairs and out of the bus to a quiet spot in the school grounds where I could be alone and cry.
That was six years ago.
It was only sometime in 2012 I think, that I sang in front of people again. The whole audience was my parents and I went off and cried a little to myself afterwards; but hey, it was a start!
A while went by when I didn’t upload anything to YouTube. Then for christmas of 2012, after a whole lot of research and saving up by myself and my parents, I received a Boss Br-800 digital recorder/audio interface!
In no time at all I’d be creating different nifty licks and overlaying rhythm guitar and bass onto them every day just to see how the various layers sounded together. I was intrigued and inspired by the end product each time. I’d previously written a few songs, so decided to have a go at bringing them to life on my Boss, always starting with rhythm guitar and overlaying the other parts afterwards.
I used the onboard microphone on it to record anything that couldn’t be plugged in (i.e. acoustic guitar, drums, vocals) as I didn’t have my Rode NT1-A microphone then. Unfortunately, the quality I got from the onboard microphone wasn’t great at all compared to my Rode, but it was good enough for a rough home recording.
On 6th March 2013, I uploaded my first ever original song. It was called ‘Most Beautiful Thing’ and had a reggae beat to it. It was a bit ’empty’ sounding and my voice was still pretty dodgy, but it was the best I could do at the time so I uploaded it. After a warm response to that one, I uploaded another couple of original songs. Much like the drumming videos, these songs stayed on YouTube for about six months, only to be promptly taken down by myself for the same reasons…BUT…these were replaced.
For my sixteenth birthday, my parents gave me a Rode NT1-A microphone because they believed in me enough and thought that it would really benefit the overall quality of my songs. It really did!
It was at that point that I decided to completely re-evaluate myself and think about exactly what it was I wanted to do with my music and where I wanted it to take me.
A Fresh Start:
So, I had all the equipment necessary to create good quality uploads…the only question now was “What shall be my first ‘official’ upload?”
At the time, I had been listening to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s hauntingly beautiful version of Judy Garland’s ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ a lot and thought I’d have a look at the chords for it. The key that Israel sang it in wasn’t right for my range, so I randomly selected a fret on my Alvarez guitar and secured my capo onto it, which happened to be the fourth fret.
I began to sing the lyrics and fingerpick the chords, the beat being slower than in Israel’s version. In hindsight, not knowing the melody of the song well enough worked out pretty well for me because that way there was no ‘one way’ of how to perform the song engraved on my memory. I just relaxed and let whatever was inside me pulling the strings improvise all the way through; making up its own melody as it went along. Long story short, this was the finished product and my first ‘official’ upload. One of many to come!
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