By Deardra Shuler
Jeremiah stood center stage at Eugene’s where he was surrounded by plush couches and a welcoming atmosphere. Not only due to the ambiance of the room but due to those who came to support the release of his CD, “Chasing Forever.” Jeremiah is a slight man with a tremendously big voice. A well trained voice. He knows exactly how to hit those low notes and then take them so high they touch soprano proportions.
There is something about him that exudes joy and confidence in his ability to enrapture his audience and enrapture he does, especially when he sings his emotional ballad “Home.” I saw tears welling in the eyes of his audience, some sat enthralled, eyes shut, moving in tandem to their own heartstrings stroked so beautifully by the melodic voice of the master songster and songwriter on stage.
“I grew up in Rochester, New York” said Jeremiah of his family hearth. “There is a purity to the country environment that makes it a great place to raise kids. I went to Syracuse University upstate as an opera major on full scholarship. I studied the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Verdi, Puccini, and all of those wonderful composers. And, because these pieces are sung in various languages, I speak French, Italian, Spanish, and even studied Russian, German, and Latin. Languages are very easy for me. I can say something in Korean and people will say that my accent is pretty authentic. I think that I have an ear which naturally tunes into the musical resonance of the language. Chinese in particular is musical. It’s a tone language,” explained Jeremiah of his classical training and linguistic skills.
Jeremiah came from a musical family, who were there to celebrate Jeremiah’s first record release party. His mother’s face beamed as she listened while her son mastered the stage. “My mother is a wonderful woman and huge influence in my life. She also is a classically trained pianist. She has directed choirs in the gospel community around the country. My sisters were aspiring singers and my brother a percussionist. I sing all types of music because all types of music was played in my home,” said the eclectic balladeer proudly.
It seems Jeremiah was not only called to vocalize, he also has a songwriting gift. He has written songs for Celine Dion, Fantasia, et al. “By 9 or 10 years old, I began to write music and I knew it was my calling. I wrote the songs on my CD. I perfected the piano while attending the Performing Arts High School. I couldn’t graduate unless I learned to play” stated the singer. “One thing about singers who are also pianist, they know a way to set their voices to music. Sarah Vaughn was a pianist. There was footage of her performing the song “The Nearness of You” in Japan and the way she structured her voice around the piano was simply amazing. Oleta Adams, also a pianist, sang a song called “Get Here,” a huge hit in the 1990s. The way Oleta set the cording to her voice was what made that song so special. Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, and even Anita Baker are all pianists and singers. You get a different perspective of harmonic choices when you play and sing” remarked Jeremiah. “Rachelle Ferrell is one of my huge musical heroines. She is a special woman. I learned a great deal from her. She was one of the first people who taught me the voice is an instrument. Sometimes we are thought of as just singers, but its more than that. We are musicians. The voice is the first instrument. Rachelle made that fact very clear on one of her albums. Whatever Rachelle puts out is perfect because there is real purity and integrity in her music” stated Jeremiah.
Many artists have come to recognize Jeremiah’s wonderful originality. He has worked with artists such as Michael Bolten, Yolanda Adams, George Michael, and Amel Larrieux to name a few. He has appeared in some of New York’s premiere R&B and jazz clubs such as the Blue Note, BB Kings and SOB’s.
“You know when I was younger, I was heavy set. My sisters called me “fat boy,” which was my nick name growing up. Children can be mean, but your siblings can be really mean because they know how to dig. So, it was a painful period for me. However, I used that pain to write songs that had real conviction and sentiment because there was a time I felt unloved, although I knew my family loved me. Being fat made me feel unloved, so I wrote songs that stated ‘one day you are gonna love me.’ In fact the original title of my album was “Folktales of a Fat Boy.” However, the moment I learned to love myself, I changed myself” reflected Jeremiah whose CD is recorded on the Siri Music label and was released October 3rd.
Jeremiah recorded a duet with R&B artist Shanice entitled “Love For A While,” which is climbing the charts. “I changed the title from “Folktales of a Fat Boy” to “Chasing Forever” because I realized the album is about love. I am a romantic at heart and in love with the idea of being in love. Love can last forever and I think one day we will all encounter it. After all, at the end of the day, we are all looking for love.”
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