MANY artistes can recall the turning point in their careers. For singer Dre Island, his moment came in January, 2010 at the Shaggy and Friends show at King's House when he made a cameo appearance with deejay Ding Dong.
The enthusiastic response to their hit song, If I Could Do It Again, was an eye-opener for the budding entertainer who was making his big show debut.
"We went up with a choir and the crowd went wild. It turned out to be Ding Dong's biggest performance and it helped get mi a spot on Reggae Sumfest," recalled the dreadlocked Dre Island.
After another favourable showing at Sumfest, he says a friend told him, 'Yo, yuh need some song'."
That was ironic advice, considering Dre Island (Andre Johnson) had co-written songs for a number of artistes including Julian Marley, Junior Reid and Ding Dong. However, If I Could Do It Again was his first major recording as a performer.
A classically trained pianist, the 24-year-old artiste has increased his studio production, working with producer Lloyd 'Jam 2' James and also recording at his small Red Hills Road studio. James produced two of his latest songs, Rastafari Way and Best Girl In The World, the latter recorded on the popular Bipolar beat. They are expected to be included on Welcome to Paradise, his first album.
Though he admits it was important to start producing more songs, Dre Island says he is determined to get drawn into a practice that is customary in Jamaican dancehall.
"Wi neva really waan get inna the juggling thing. Jus' mek some serious song wey the people dem love," he said.
Andre Gordon was raised in the tough Red Hills Road area of St Andrew. He was surrounded by music, listening to area elders like deejays Red Dragon, Flourgon and Daddy Lizard.
Close to his home was producer Danny Browne's Main Street Records, a hit factory during the 1990s. But while he was into dancehall, much of Dre Island's teen years were spent learning classic piano at Trinity College in St Andrew.
The tone of his music is closer to Protégé and Sizzla than Bach and Handel. It is a sound he wants a diverse audience to consume.
Dre Island will appear on the January 18 opening night of Rebel Salute Health and Culture Expo.