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Music: “Sweet Sway” by Janine Jkuhl

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“While on the Sama Sama creative residency, held at the beautiful Rumah Sungai Villa in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, one of my aims was to write a few songs and get as many as possible recorded. I had no idea what kind of songs I would write or where my inspiration would come from, but I knew that, indeed, it would come to me like a flowing epiphany. In my first week of the residency, I was introduced to a ukulele, which was owned by one of the staff members at the villa.”Janine Jkuhl

This aim was accomplished with this month’s release of Janine’s latest body of work, titled “Sweet Sway”. This album is a collection of ten tracks that were written and recorded while she was involved in the creative residency which was hosted in Bali, Indonesia this year. Amidst the global pandemic, she was able to record this body of work and collaborate with various bodies in the region such as Alzheimer’s Indonesia (an organization that cares for dementia patients). She was able to support them by giving them the rights for two of the songs that can be heard on the new album.

Of the experience, Janine states: “This residency aims to broker cultural, creative exchanges between Jamaicans and Indonesians, thereby expanding their horizons through the immersion experiences. As a singer-songwriter, I planned my projects around writing new songs, performing, learning new instruments, collaborating with other creators, recording my materials in Bali, and building my practice.” Though the inter-cultural residency was slated to last for two months, the Covid-19 pandemic caused her to remain in Bali for an extra two months which gave her even more time to prepare her offering.

The album is immensely reflective, a shows a fresh kind of alternative songwriting and music arrangement that audiences the world over will enjoy. The instrumentations are tinged with reggae, yet still manage to capture the feel of Indonesians drums, gongs and flutes. A beautiful example of the blending of cultures are two tracks: “The Mystic” and “Mistik (Bahasa Indonesian)”; the former is sung in English and the latter vocalized in the Indonesian language.  They sound equally powerfully, no matter the version.

Janine details her experience in bringing the song together: “As I got to know the instrument, a magical relationship started to develop with me and this ukulele. A chordal progression began to build, and a melody later came forth. Professor Michael Morrissey, the residency host, kept encouraging me to hang out around the ‘Bale Bengong’, which I did. This area overlooked the ridge, with a beautiful view of hillside green landscape, bamboos swaying in the wind, coconut trees standing taller than a three-storey house, and the sounds of the river rushing down below, hidden from sight by the lush greenery of the jungle. With this view, and the energies of Bali around, the song took form and shape.

The entire albums flows smoothly like a freshly brewed cup of coffee and is a recommended listen.  Feel free to listen to the album launch, premiered on national radio – Radio Jamaica 94FM on “Palav”,  with host Gerry McDaniel (video below). Also, see links for purchase, and her social media links as well. This album is one is recommended for your easy listening. Janine credits Esirom; Fesco Fuel Marketing Company; Music Unites Jamaica Foundation; St James Bakery; Blaqmango Consultants; the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; Whatz Up NY TV; and her supportive family, friends, and fans for making the venture possible.

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Blessings in abundance!

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