Songwriter’s positive, hopeful message
God gives everyone something they're passionate about. Once you discover what that is, stay true to it.
They're words that Jerome Stovell lives by.
He considered releasing a gospel album for more than a decade before acting on the thought last year; he'd performed at church and community events since he was a child.
“I work full-time as a teacher at [Chatmore Preparatory School] and I'm also a fine artist so in order to get this album out I had to work around the clock — early morning and late nights — trying to juggle it all,” said the 57-year-old who performs under the name Jae Jerome.
“All these endeavours take a lot of time — writing and producing music, creating art and the education side.
“I finally got it done because I had talked about it for so long and just had to stay with it. My advice to anyone would be never give up even if it's taken a long time. If it's your passion, and God gives us all a passion, stay true to it and don't give up, even if you're living on 21 square miles in the middle of the ocean.
“Sometimes it's difficult as artists because it's not always easy to keep that creative edge here. Bermuda tends to be conservative, but I say keep plugging away and use whatever tools are at your disposal, be it social media or whatnot, to get yourself out there. You never know what can happen and where it can take you.”
Mr Stovell grew up in a Christian household, most of his family members were gifted in the arts.
“Growing up we had a family band and everybody played something. There were five of us. We played the keyboards, bass and drums and sang so we were very busy at a young age and as teenagers.
“We would sing in church and by the time I was age 14 or 15 I was playing for choirs and the church band. So that's where I started out doing my songwriting and I've been doing it ever since.”
In 1996 he released an album as a member of the gospel band Destiny. His faith, which has played a huge part in his life, has helped him through many challenges.
“Years ago my wife [Dee] and I were going through a rough time in our marriage,” he said. “We were on the verge of divorce.
“It was at that moment I realised how badly I had messed things up. I knew I could have done or handled certain things better, so having gone through that pain and really getting down on myself I got to the place where eventually I could accept God's love in the middle of that.
“God has a way of turning even our worst days around and working it out and weaving it into the tapestry of our lives that make us stronger people.
“We want to portray ourselves as having it all together and it takes real trust to open yourself up to someone, the whole you. Relationships sometimes are like gradually peeling back those layers of ourselves and showing that to our partner and it takes time. My faith helps me with that because I know if God can accept me unconditionally, I can accept someone else.”
His first solo album, Inner Man, is now available for sale. Some of the songs were inspired by personal experiences.
“You don't really experience the true benefits of love until you understand that you have to take the chance and give of yourself,” Mr Stovell said.
“That's the scary thing. This is true with both a spiritual relationship between you and God and the relationship between husband and wife.”
He continued: “Every day, all around us, we're inundated with lots of negative stuff, so my aim is for this album to provide a positive, hopeful message.
“I have hundreds of songs in my repertoire and finally said it's time to really go through it and get some of it out. What's great now is the technology allows you to be self-released. You don't have to work on a major label to do what you have to do. With the internet and social media you can do a lot of the making yourself now. You can get it out there and hopefully find the right audience for your sound.
“I want people to feel inspired and hopeful that life is a wonderful thing. This album is my attempt at sharing my faith. It's through your relationship with God that you're finally found and can enjoy life as it was meant to be lived.”
The album, co-produced by Steve Easton and John Woolridge, is available at Music Box; and online at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Useful website: www.jaejerome.com/