Entertainment

Andru Donalds looks to the 'East'

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior staff reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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IN 1995, Andru Donalds' hit single Mishale not only rocked local charts, but climbed to number 38 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Nearly two decades later, Donalds maintains he is still an active player in the industry despite his low profile.

These days, however, he concentrates on plying his trade in Eastern Europe — in the Russian cities of Moscow and St Petersburg; Kiev and Odessa in the Ukraine; as well as Estonia.

"I am mainly in Russia; which is where most of the eastern bloc countries look to as the leader. Russia has always been the centre of this side of the world from back in the Soviet bloc days and has a rich history as it relates to music," Donalds says.

"With everything now opening up, I find that people there are hungry for popular music and I want to be right there with my brand of music," he continues.

Donalds says his brand of music is a hybrid: a bit of rock, pop and R&B fused with his native reggae.

Donalds is in Jamaica for a respite and work on an upcoming album. He expects it to be released sometime next year with the assistance of the German label 6000 Media.

"It's a different kind of album. I will always retain the pop sound. However, the interesting thing about it is the mix of an electronic sound with live instrumentation," he explains.

Most of the tracks for the project are written by Donalds, but he also draws on the talents of his business partner Jackson Belina. While he prepares for the upcoming release, the dreadlocked singer is keeping himself busy.

He heads back to Russia in October for a performance at the Crocus City Hall near Moscow. This venue, with its more than 6,000 seats, has seen performances by the likes of Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.

While in Russia, Donalds' music will also partner with a Russian designer during Moscow Fashion Week.

"One of my songs, And I Feel, which I wrote and co-produced with Dirk Richardt for the hit movie Barfuss in 2005 is being used for the show featuring the 2013 Spring/ Summer collection by Stas Lopatkin during fashion week in Russia," he said.

Donalds first tasted success in the US market with Mishale. Then it was on to Europe, followed by Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

He would hit again six years later. This time with a cover of Air Supply's All Out of Love. In between that, the track Somebody's Baby was included on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning flick, Good Will Hunting.

In 2002, Donalds became what he describes as "a studio rat", doing vocal work as lead singer for Enigma -- a musical project founded by Romania-born, Germany-based Micheal Cretu.

Like many, Donalds points out that "reggae music is in a lull right now".

"There are no big Jamaican reggae bands on the international stage right now. Investors are not taking the risk on reggae," he said. "We need an artiste like Usain Bolt — a freak of nature with talent and charisma. Dancehall was huge in the 90s, but everything moves in cycles, so I'm waiting on the next big thing."

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