JASON DERULO (pronounced day-ru-lo)
A truly multi-talented artist knows no creative boundaries. This is the case with Jason Derulo the Miami-bred 20 year old singer, dancer, songwriter and actor whose smash debut single "Whatcha Say" heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
As the flagship artist in the new joint venture deal between Warner Bros. and super-producer J.R. Rotem's label Beluga Heights, Derulo has set his sights high. "I don't want to stay in a box or be locked into one specific genre" Derulo says. "I would like to make music that knows no boundaries."
Well Jason's "Whatcha Say" has yet to experience any boundaries, with the single vaulting over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone."Whatcha Say" is finger-snapping, futuristic pop, with listeners responding to Derulo's lyrical proclamation "You and me are meant to last forever!"
Following Derulo's breakout performance at this summer's KIIS FM Wango Tango, and with "Whatcha Say" taking off, it feels as if Derulo has the makings of an overnight sensation. In fact his story involves a lifetime of dedication.
Raised in a two-parent home in Florida, Derulo took to performing in school plays, and composed his first song, "Crush On You" at age 8. "I grew up as a huge Michael Jackson fan, studying his videos, copying all his moves. I'd practice singing Usher and Justin Timberlake songs while doing their moves." As a teen, Derulo moved to New York to attend the vaunted American Musical and Dramatic Academy and competed at the legendary Apollo Theater, winning the Apollo's 2006 season Grand Championship.
Derulo kept writing, and at age 17, Jason wrote and sang the chorus to "Bossy", a song on southern rapper Baby's album Five*Stunna (Cash Money/Universal). This credit opened the floodgates, as Derulo became a sought-after tunesmith on songs by hip hop star Lil Wayne, Bad Boy R&B singer Cassie and girl group Danity Kane. Jason also lent his pen for the smash single "Replay" by Iyaz.
Meanwhile super-producer J.R. Rotem's label Beluga Heights had launched the platinum career of Sean Kingston. After Rotem's younger brother Tommy found Jason on Myspace, the Beluga Heights team flew Derulo out to L.A. to write songs for Sean Kingston's second album.
"I was most impressed initially with Jason's writing," explains J.R. Rotem. "Although we knew he was interested in being a solo artist, we were feeling him out as a writer. But from the first night in the studio there was a magical chemistry, he was vibing off my beats, I was loving his energy and melodies. We recorded a bunch of songs and it was on!"
Due to Jason's writing prowess, he had been avidly courted by many labels all looking to sign him. But in Rotem, Derulo had found his musical match. So 2009, after Rotem inked a joint venture deal between Beluga Heights and Warners Bros., American Idol judge and Warner Bros. Records Senior Vice President of A&R Kara DioGuardi signed Derulo as the flagship artist to launch the new venture.
"For eight months J.R. and I literally locked ourselves in the studio, wrote and recorded," Jason says. "Our aim was to not be influenced by trends, and make sure that our art was coming from a true place."
Derulo pinpoints one composition called "Riding Solo" as typifying their artistic collaboration. "The song is about the empowering but bittersweet realization that it's okay to be single."
"Jason is one of those special talents who writes for others and has a career of his own" says Rotem. "He can write female pop songs, male R&B, he can write ballads. He's very eclectic. He's really inspired us."
Derulo's dance track "Strobelight" is featured in the forthcoming MTV movie Turn The Beat Around, with Jason performing the song in a heart-thumping sequence. There's no mistaking the appeal of his clean-cut look. "I'm not a baggy jeans kind of guy," Derulo laughs. "Fitted is more my look. I like to be clean cut, with my hair slightly faded in."
With the release of Jason Derulo's self-titled debut album slated for early 2010, there is the thrilling sense of the arrival of a major new star. "I don't feel like I'm competing with other artist," Jason says from his new home in Los Angeles. "I'm just going to try and be the best I can be. And when I get to that level, well, I'll figure out a way to get better."
Pic: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images