Late last year, I saw J'Angel perform her debut soca song "Jook It" and by the time she was finished, I was convinced that she had that 'it' factor.
Wearing a very short, fitted dress, she worked the crowd, maintaining control of her voice throughout. For a first-time outing with such a risqué song, she seemed comfortable and confident. Eyebrows rose as she tantalised the male guests, even doing a fair impression of a lap dance on one quite willing volunteer. Everything about her performance said, "I am in charge". One of my friends leaned over and whispered, "That is the next Saucy Wow!" Asked during the interview how she felt about that comparison, J'Angel shrieked, "I take that as a compliment! Hello! I used to try to dance like Saucy!"
When I called her to schedule the interview, just mentioning where I had seen her perform, she yelled, "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed. "That isn't ME! That really wasn't ME doing that!"
J'Angel, born Janelle Leon, wrote the 2013 offering with Kern Rose and Rayza late last year. "The song started with me. I was at home and I told myself I wanted to do a song for Carnival. I wanted something to make people move. Now, not everybody could wine but everyone could jook, even tourists." Laughing as she spoke, she said, "I decided to take it a bit further and thought of sex. I mean people jook each other with sex, right?"
When she approached the producers at Mad Men Productions, who are responsible for countless monster hits for well-known artistes, she explained the vein of the song. "They were like, 'Are you crazy?!'" Getting the right sound was nothing short of the Goldilocks syndrome. On the third try, it was just right. "The first beat didn't speak to my personality. The second one, was too soft and the third one was "Jook It"!"
She was proud of her song for more than one reason. The former "Miss Sangre Grande" described her studio experience as "epic". She impressed herself and the producers by completing her vocals in one night's session. For an amateur artiste, it was quite commendable. "I'm glad they took a chance on me because they're always on point and it's their name going on a song. So if they do a song for someone who can't sing, that's a risk to them.." Even after the magic of the producers though, J'Angel and her team sought the feedback of many before releasing the track as they were "seeking for perfection…a panel that would judge".
She was especially grateful to Mad Men Productions since other producers rejected her – and her song. "They didn't want to take that risk as I'm new. Now that the song is out, all sorts of producers are calling me!" The irony made her laugh heartily.
"To be honest, you know everyone has that one dream? Well, I like (being a) radio (personality) but I always wanted to reach the level of an international artiste. This song is just an introduction of me as an artiste. I don't want to lose the mindset that I am new to this. I have time to grow and get better and better."
"Yes, I want to be international but I am ready to give Trinidad me first before I go international. If you can't make it in your own land, how can you make it in another man's land? I am a product and there is a level of professionalism as a package."
J'Angel has already performed at several events, including the Fantasy 'Savage' and 'Fire' fetes. She has been booked to perform at the fetes, WASA, Red Edge and Inferno, among others. Her schedule also includes a performance in Tobago during the Carnival season. "I am so excited about Tobago! I love Tobago!" She is also a semi finalist in the Digicel International Groovy Soca category of the International Soca Monarch competition. "I've gotten great crowd response wherever I went! I love my Trinis!"
Assuming a serious tone of confidence, she declared, "People ain't hear nothing yet. There is a lyrical side of me." It is her hope that she will do collaborations with soca artistes, Swappi, Bunji Garlin and Machel Montano. "For some strange reason though, I would love to do a song with Denyse Plummer. I used to sell in the market with my mum and dad when I was about nine years and Denyse came in and I pulled her braids. She put me on her lap and I told her that I wanted to be just like her. I have never seen her since then and meeting her now would be very emotional."
J'Angel plans to record songs of different genres later this year and intends to maintain her versatility in her music and voice. "I can swing my voice any way." In her song, 'Jook It', the cute, light voice one hears asking, "You want me to…?" at the start of the track, belies her strong, despotic lyrics.
The 'personality chameleon' is definitely here to stay. While her personality is one that portrays a grounded individual, the sky is certainly the limit for J'Angel.
J'Angel's Twitter account is @msjangelMsJangel
and her Facebook page is J Angel.