Nineteen-year-old pop/soul singer/songwriter and personal designer Jasha ‘JJ Artz’ Abrams, when he isn’t making a statement with his voice is doing so with fashion. This young man makes an impression at every event and if you forget everything else about that night, you remember those one-of-kind, nine-inch heels that give him the signature look and ensure he becomes the buzz afterwards.
Earlier this year at the SAS Golden Treasure Fashion Show at the Millennium Manor Hotel, he took to the stage to sing a cover. The minute he stepped out, his jaw-dropping look took the audience by storm and those who didn’t know him were immediately curious about this singer performing in his trendy outfit, accentuated by a hat that made it difficult to fully catch his face and the bold statement he made with a pair of platform shoes. This quite daring feat and the proud way he carried himself, showed that JJ was born to stand out.
Although the young designer makes incredible pieces, they are only made for his person and are usually done for whenever he’s performing at a show. His profession leans more to singing covers for now.
At five years old, JJ made his first appearance before a small crowd, his first step to his singing career today and a moment he says he will never forget as long as he lives.
It is the memory of singing with his late mother who having gone up to sing a karaoke version of “Stand By Me” called Jasha up to finish the song with her.
“I was eleven when my mom passed; it broke my heart. I haven’t fully recovered… she was my everything. My mom was my mentor when it came to singing. Everything I’ve set my heart to do, I’ve always remembered her and God,” JJ said.
He later added that if there was ever one thing he could change or give the world for, it would be to have his mother back in his life.
“It’s really hard living day to day without the only woman who was always my rock.”
Music since then has not always been celebrative but a world he would often escape to. “Music would take me to a world of my own, a form of relaxation,” he said.
Growing up, he sang in church and at his schools, St Stephen Primary, Kuru Kururu Community High, Freeburg Secondary, Friendship Secondary and L’Aventure Secondary for concerts. He recalled that his very first Christmas School Concert was nerve-wracking for him and admitted hat he was a salt shaker all the while he sang “Joy to the World”. But it has always been a privilege for him with the support of head teachers, teachers and fellow students.
At the age of 14, he penned the lyrics to his first song of a string of more than thirty waiting to be composed and released.
He is greatly inspired by Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Sia and especially Michael Jackson, the icon who influenced his entertainment career.
He has since performed at Theatre Guild, Millennium Manor Hotel, Residential Inn, El Dorado Inn and most recently at the Pegasus Hotel.
Music and designing Jasha said, have taught him much, but mostly he has learned to be disciplined, bold and always make a statement.
He has learnt also to love, how to be innovative and collective.
His designs are usually the work of his wild imagination. According to Jasha, he is never persuaded into altering anyone else’s design in anyway. His designs are a definition of who he is and for every emotion he receives, he gets the urge to create.
“My designs are very innovative despite me being weird. My weird is unique and uniqueness helps me regarding where designs fall in place.”
And unique would be one of the words for his awesome killer heels. Sometime back when someone gave him the notion that he was too short to be an artiste and trendsetter, he set out to prove them wrong. He was inspired by horses’ hooves in creating his own trend.
In the area of designing, he is inspired by the local talents of Shan Seecharran of SAS Designs and Paul Charles. These are two of his biggest supporters along with his father.
At 17, he was given his first guitar and keyboard. He threw himself into music after this and though he did not know to play, found all the YouTube tutorials he could and practiced until he knew it all by heart. “I usually spend nine hours a day on my music, sometimes the whole 24 hours if I have nothing else to do which would include writing, coming up with melodies and recording for myself,” the passionate artiste said.
He hopes that in a year’s time he can begin recording his singles and have them released. He mentioned that persons in the entertainment arena are not well supported in Guyana, though they are capable to of putting Guyana on the map and because of this, people migrate and Guyana loses its talented people, one at a time.
He hopes to be remembered as a down-to-earth young man with the characteristics of being humble, a positive person who is open minded, understanding and innovative.
His hobbies include cooking, playing virtual building games, listening to music, dancing, reading novels and poems, hanging out with friends, travelling and sometimes just enjoying the silence with the lights out.
To youngsters who are facing challenges in pursuit of their dreams Jasha encouraged, “…I know that the struggles are real and the road is hard but you have to be persistent and work hard for what you want. You have to fight for what you believe in and know it’s never easy to pursue a dream. Just stay strong and focused and the end will be rewarding.”
Jasha hopes that in five to ten years’ time he would have become an established artiste and designer in Guyana and abroad.
He can be found on Facebook at @jjartz and via Instagram @jj_artz