Award Winning Song ‘Down’ Lifts Rising R&B Singer Back Up

A JUNO nomination was supposed to kickstart R&B sensation Jhyve’s career — but it took a song called Down to lift him up.

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A JUNO nomination for best R&B artist in 2018 — he lost — was supposed to kickstart the career of Jamaal Bowry, stage name Jhyve, but a few months later, he was back in his parents’ Brampton home “sharing a wall with my dad” and wondering why everything stalled.

Ironically, a sad song penned in those dark hours, Down, recently lifted Jhyve, who won the CBC Searchlight Award this year and just picked up Allan Slaight Master Class honours for the smooth-singing vocalist — again on the rise.

“I sing my own special brand of sad-boy R&B, but recently it’s broadened.”

JUNO, 2018: nominated for best R&B artist, lost to Daniel Caesar — “I watched all the momentum evaporate over the next six months.”

CBC Search Light, 2021: Ironically, sad song, Down — penned in dark post-JUNO days — restarts career.

Allan Slaight Master Class, 2021: “It’s been amazing. Such a brain-exploder, I didn’t expect to learn so much — it’s been a game-changer.”

“The bigger an object gets, the bigger its gravity field gets. There’s a kind of gravity of those artists that pulls other artists in, whether they’re aware of it or not.

“I think it was a double-edged sword because it has brought a lot of spotlights to Canadian artists but, at the same time, it’s a good thing to feel the spotlight — but it’s another thing to feel the heat of the light.

“I felt it.

“I spent first eight years trying to be the next Drake; now, I’m trying to find a path and thing of my own.”

“My first dives into live music were kind of a cover band duo with a guitar player and I would sing. We’d just go around anywhere from Windsor all the way over to Kingston, we’d just be driving around to cool, well-known Open Mics — anything we could search on the internet — and we’d just look for places to perform.

“Our set list would include Thriller, Outkast’s Hey Ya, Space Oddity, Play That Funky Music — this weird spread of music. We’d just pick from anything and find this cool way to do an acoustic R&B twist on things, definitely reinventing. At the beginning it just felt like play.”

“New Kanye, new Drake, James Blake, ignorant trap shit, MMYYKK (neo-soul), Japanese pop from the ’90s (rooted in smooth jazz), Tems, Frank Ocean.”

(Influenced by St. Kitts-born parents: DJ dad, gospel-loving mom) “Barry White, Anita Baker, Montel Jordan, SWV, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Curt Franklin, Byron Lee, Bob Marley.”

Squid Game, One Punch Man (anime).

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