Ruth Royes; sprinkling passion in every note she evokes Image

by Biko Kennedy

To say her vocal tone can effortlessly pull you closer with every infliction of her voice would be a gross understatement. Ruth has been  captivating audiences for quite some time now but she is steadily calculating her moves in anticipation of the globe echoing her name in unison. We caught up with her a few days ahead of her performance at the Earth Hour Acoustic Concert to explore her intriguing personality.

JAmusic: Music lovers globally will always be looking for that new, impeccable sound that can be looked upon as leaders of the new wave of vocalists. How would you define a musical genius that can eventually become a vocal leader?
RR: I think a musical genius has two parts to it; passion & practice. Someone who takes the time to really perfect their craft and at the same time being able to convey true emotion and make the listener really feel every word they sing. That to me is genius and the mark of a vocal leader.

JAmusic: Some of the most genius artistes have thrived when taking chances and innovating. How important/present is that on the Reggae soundscape today; from what you've seen and that might have help in composing your singles?

RR: When you look at any genre of music that has had great success innovation has always been key. Anyone who has made a mark in music has been an innovator of some kind, for example; John Coltrane, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and the list goes on & on ... they all brought something new to the table. If music isn’t evolving I think something is terribly wrong. Don’t get me wrong, there are songs I can never get tired of but I think its human nature to desire something new. Something that will appeal to our senses. I think for a long time reggae was kind of on a stand still and in the last few years we’ve been starting to see the rebirth of Reggae and it’s really exciting. In addition, there has been a rise of new reggae artistes and as a result it has created a lot of competition and so, in order to stand out from the rest you really have to come with something new. I think this is a good thing because it forces people to be creative and think outside the box, which in turn causes the artistes to grow musically. 

JAmusic: We know that you mostly do covers of songs, why haven’t we heard more original pieces on a frequent basis?

RR: Based on the opportunities that have presented themselves since I started singing, I’ve done a lot more performing than recording. This has given me more time to figure out exactly which direction I’d like to go in musically. Evidently I’m still figuring it out ...

JAmusic: Your style seems to be a blend between vocalists like Masha Ambrosius, Erykah Badu and Laura Izibor . Is this intentional and are these artistes persons you try to emulate?

RR: It’s definitely not an intentional emulation. I’m actually flattered to be compared to vocalists like these; I really respect all their talents. Out of the three, I listen to Erykah Badu the most. I went to school and studied jazz so that’s probably where the sound really developed.

JAmusic: What's the biggest risk you've taken artistically; one that went over surprisingly well and one that might've gone over people's heads?

RR: Rapping! I was in an R&B ensemble at my school and someone chose to do a song with a rap in it. I being the “ Jamaican girl” got stuck doing the rap. It was completely out of my comfort zone and I was totally embarrassed. According to the audience it went over well BUT it went way over my head!!!…(laughs hysterically)…That’s not an experience I’d ever like to relive. 

JAmusic: Who's the artiste that keeps you on your toes? Pushes you to go harder?

RR: There are so many! Jill Scott, Lalah Hathaway, Idina Menzel and the list goes on...

JAmusic: When you got into the music business where did you think you'd be today or where did you see yourself fitting in at the moment?

RR: I’m not sure I knew  where I was headed, but I knew I was made to sing and that’s what I wanted to do so I just did it. I’ve recently found myself teaching a lot, which is something I said I would never do. But surprisingly I have come to really enjoy it. 

JAmusic: What's the purpose on your musical journey? What's the message you're trying to give?

RR: I just want to create music that will move people in one way or another. Something that they can relate to. Something that will help them get through the day; whether it’s just the groove of the song that puts them in a good mood or the lyric. Whatever it is, I want to create relatable music. I also think that as a teacher I’d like to instil in all my students the same love for music that I have. 

JAmusic: What's one song that you hold close to you because of a particular line or better yet what's the most philosophical quote you've heard in a song that you hold close to your heart?

RR: Again its hard to choose just one but the first one I can think off is Clear The Stage by Jimmy Needham – “Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze if thats the measure you must take to crush the idols.I think this line paints a vivid picture and capture the message of the song in. It really makes you stop and take stock of what is really important. 

JAmusic: We live in an era where the average person's attention span is limited to what they want to see or hear. What are you doing differently that will hold their attention?

RR: I have a short attention span!! Haha... Since I’ve been mostly performing I try to mix the music I love which may not necessarily be mainstream with more familiar material, while still putting a Ruth Royes spin on it. I try never to sing a song exactly as the original artist does... I like to play with the melodies and arrangements and really make the song feel like my own, all in an attempt to bring new meaning to the song.

JAmusic: With success comes a lot of negative feedback, how do you react or deal with negativity?

RR: If its constructive criticism I try to learn from it. If its not based on any truth I ignore it.

JAmusic: What kind of future plans have you set for yourself as an artiste (to accomplish and maintain)?

RR: I would like to write more songs and create product that I am truly happy with.

JAmusic: What insight can you give on the power of music and its ability to communicate certain messages verbally and non-verbally? And what do you think your music represent?

RR: I think music is the most powerful language. Even a child who can’t speak can understand it and is moved by it. Music has the ability to completely control the way a person feels. Take for example a film score; think of a movie without music... It would suck! The film score takes the person watching the movie on an emotional journey, the sounds we hear have a lot to do with the way we feel. As for my music, it represents the things in life that really matter; it celebrates life and love in a wholesome way.

Image A music aficionado redefining possibilities while pushing the limits of success...
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