Almost two years in the making, “Jasmine” (“Let it Show”), starring Chinese Opera star Jane Maria and Nigerian Reggae legend Toyin Adekale lands on the airwaves.
This groundbreaking project started in France in an exclusive and remote chateau where Jane Maria recorded her operatic vocals to the Chinese classic “Jasmine Flower” and went all the way from there to London, China, and Seattle, USA bringing in musicians from Africa, Jamaica, USA, U.K., Philippines, India, France, and China on the two-year journey. Fusing Opera and Reggae, culture style and tradition in a global movement of peace and love. “Jasmine” (“Let it Show”) is set for release on Dec. 10, 2018.
The Jasmine Project was founded by Stevie Eagle E from Shlepp Entertainment Ltd. Working with Jane Maria on her new Opera album, he heard “Jasmine” and wanted to take it to another level. He brought Jane Maria and Toyin Adekale together along with Bhangra legend Tubsy Dohlki Walla at an event he was promoting in Wales and the “Jasmine” movement was born. “Jasmine” not only stars Jane Maria and Toyin Adekale, it also features legendary Bhangra musician Tubsy Dohlki Walla, saxophonist Mauresse Itson, Faith artists Sam Driz, Faith ensemble, the Talithavoices Choir, and the CEC Voices Choir, along with a host of international musicians.
Toyin Adekale nearly quit music altogether as shortly after she met with Jane Maria, her young son Bakari Tashan (Fofana) Cross tragically passed away. Stevie Eagle E stated:
There were times when I did not know if Toyin would ever recover from the loss of her son, but I was determined that ‘Jasmine’ would not be completed without her and therefore the project would either live or die depending on her getting back into the saddle. I knew for me, I probably could not recover from the loss of my little girl, so I could only hope and pray for Toyin that she could bounce back somehow.
It took almost a year for Toyin Adekale to find the strength to record “Jasmine” and complete the project. She credits God’s grace, “Jasmine,” and the words of her son (to continue making music) in aiding her continued recovery from her tragic loss.
Toyin Adekale is one of Reggae’s most successful artists topping both the Pop and Reggae charts multiple times all over the world in her amazing career. She is known as Reggae Royalty for all her achievements in the music industry throughout the years, as well as being known for being one of the most versatile singers in the world. Toyin Adekale has done Reggae, Pop, Dance, Soul, Gospel, and Classical performing with the biggest stars in the world and in front of Royalty, celebrities, and millions of fans globally. In an exclusive interview with Global News Inc., she revealed that when Stevie Eagle E first suggested her collaborating with Chinese Opera star and fusing Opera and Reggae, she thought he was “a little bit mad.” However, she loved the idea and decided to go with it as she has known Stevie Eagle E for decades and knew what he was capable of producing.
’Jasmine’ has been part of the healing process for me; since losing my son I have had my darkest moments. When I hear it and when I see it, it reminds me of his words to keep going and do what I do. For me, it strikes at the heart of what I want to stand for: love, peace, and collaboration. It is my testimony and I know my son is smiling every time he hears ‘Jasmine.’
Master singer Chinese Opera star Jane Maria (also a long-time friend of Stevie Eagle E) turned to Stevie Eagle E for help in finishing and promoting her new Opera album. She was not expecting him to come up with a fusion of Opera and Reggae that would take a another year to complete, and bring in dozens of musicians from around the world. When asked about the project, she said:
Stevie is a crazy guy, he does crazy things; you just have to go with it, ever since I met him with Ayi Jihu he has been that way. He heard something in ‘Jasmine’ which no one else heard and he has brought it to life. It is amazing what he has done.
The video for “Jasmine” (“Let it Show”) goes live on Nov. 23, 2018. It was shot on location in several countries around the world, including China and the USA.
“Jasmine” producer Stevie Eagle E told Global News Inc.:
Working on a project like ‘Jasmine’ takes a lot of trust from all those you involve in the project. No one but me knows what I have in my head and I ask people to do this and that without them having a clue of what the bigger picture is most of the time. Therefore, for me, there are only two kinds of people I can work with on a project like this: Those that have faith and trust in my abilities and what I do, and those that just do what they are asked without faith because they are getting paid and it’s that simple. With ‘Jasmine,’ I am working with only those that had faith, those that believed, and those that were humble enough to allow me to be their ears and eyes.
When I get something stuck in my head, I have to get it out, I have to complete it as it is in my head or I will never rest, never be at peace with myself. I become consumed by it.
‘Jasmine’ is one of those things. I wanted to bring together my culture and the culture of Africa and China and India in a way that was not patronizing or obvious. I wanted to bring it all together in a way that just works. ‘Jasmine’ has a soul, brought in by the wonderful saxophone of Maureese Itson. It has a Reggae groove, and the bass line give you this. It has percussion and rhythm, this comes from the Dholki, and percussion from Tubsy. It has purity and clarity, this comes from the amazing vocal performance of Jane Maria and Opera. It has a heart and vibe of Africa and every brother and sister in this world, this comes from the beautiful voice of Toyin Adekale. It has all of these elements and more wrapped up in one song and they all work. Most importantly, the message of “Jasmine” is needed in these dark and confusing times. This is China and the USA, Africa and India, the U.K. and Asia all working together. It tells us we can if we work hard and all find a place for our voices, vibes, and cultures on this planet without hate, war, and poverty.
I truly hope ‘Jasmine’ is just the start of something. I hope to see Jane and Toyin spreading this vibe globally in China, in Africa, in Europe, in North America with a wonderful array of international artists fusing music, culture, dance, and vibe in a popular way for the masses. This is my vision, my hope, but we will see.
Faith artist Sam Driz collaborated on the “Jasmine” project. The string sections were performed by his Faith Ensemble in Tacoma and he also sang with the CEC Choir as well as performed on the video in Seattle.
Sam Driz had this to say about the project:
It was an immense pleasure to be a part of this. I was in the studio with Stevie Eagle E working on my album when I first met Toyin Adekale. I was just blown away by her grace and style. She is a giver. A true woman of faith and I wanted to be involved in ‘Jasmine’ the moment I first heard it. It was also a great experience for me and the members of my Faith Ensemble, especially the young ones. To be part of something like this is something we will have for the rest of our lives.
Global News Inc. reviewed the project and according to them, “Jasmine” is an amazing production. The listener truly needs to hear it over and over again to fully understand the complexity that is made so simple. To put all this together and make it sound as though there are only a few instruments playing is a work of art, because when really listen, so many different things can be heard, but on the face of it, it just works and flows.
The performance from Jane Maria is flawless. Opera is not for everyone and fusing Opera with something like Reggae can cause one or the other to lose something, but in “Jasmine” this does not happen. They both shine and work beautifully together. Jane Maria brings a warmth and passion to Opera that we hope to hear more of. Toyin Adekale’s performance is for the reviewers, the real heart of the song. The drop, when the verse kicks in is truly legendary and so well worked. Reviewers went from listening intently to bopping their heads and moving their bodies without even realizing what they were doing.
Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” did the same thing: fusing Rock and Classical music with their take on Opera to make a classic loved by millions around the world. It was risky, but it paid off for them. “Jasmine” is taking similar risks as the Opera world frowns upon this type of thing. Reviewers feel “Jasmine” (“Let it Show”) will find its place in history as one of the great musical collaborations and works that will be sung and re-done many times over.
There are other great takes of “Jasmine Flower” out there: Kenny G’s saxophone version comes to mind, but reviewers felt “Jasmine” (“Let it Show”) has taken this Chinese classic to a totally new level and will introduce it to a whole new generation of people around the world.
By Jeanette Smith
Images Courtesy of Shlepp Entertainment – Used With Permission