By: Kaya 959 Entertainment
From five years old, Jamela Vuma, affectionately known as J Ross, was destined for great things.
The multi-award-winning singer and producer says he used to play the piano at his dad’s studio.
The ‘Fire in My Eyes’ star, who is the son of the late Tom Vuma, says his love for music was influenced by his parents.
“I was born in a musical family. My dad was a music producer. I started going with him to studio at the age of around five years and he used to tell me about this story where when they would take a break at studio, I would be jamming on the keyboards. My mom’s side of the family is also very gifted in music,” said J Ross.
“I never really thought music would be a career.”
But his perception about music as a career changed when he won the ‘Children of The Rainbow’ competition.
“My mom took me for an audition called ‘Children of The Rainbow’. I was 14 years old at that time.”
Not only did he win, but this is when his job as a producer started.
“I got to produce the album with Somizi Mhlongo and then I got my first pay cheque and that’s when I realised music can become a career,” says the star.
“We travelled overseas to go and represent Africa with all the other kids from Children of The Rainbow and we even performed in Dubai and for the president of China. That was the beginning of my musical career where I thought this thing can work.
“The first major producer who mentored me was Chicco Twala and I worked very closely with him, and I got to work with Brenda Fassie, Senyaka and a lot of artists.
“The first record deal that I signed was with Universal Music.”
Being exposed to drugs
Working in the music industry exposed J Ross to drugs at a young age.
He says he was addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“I survived a lot of things. I survived drugs, I survived alcohol, I survived sicknesses. There is a lot of things that the secular world comes with, and those perks are not nice perks. We might look at it and be attracted to the money and the glitz and glam, but a lot of people suffer for all of that,” said the Ses’ Top La actor.
“I was there in my life where I was trapped by the devil because of drugs. So, I am really grateful that God took his time and said I’m going to protect this young man and use him in the future,” he added.
“Everything I’ve been through is a testimony to say to people “Don’t do that. I’ve done that. People will never listen to you when they think you are coming from a judgmental point of view and you have never even been through something, ” says the star.
The 38-year-old says he has been on a new path for five years.
“The last five years of my life since I became born again has been the most transforming time of my life, because I had to give up everything that I knew before and accept this new life and do it fully without looking back,” says the star.
How he survived addiction
J Ross says he believes he managed to survive because of his prayerful family and after he surrendered his life to God.
“There is a gateway for all of these things to get to you and usually for young people is alcohol. It is something that is available and legal,” says the star who believes the legal age for alcohol consumption should be at least 21.
“Look at the root of the problem. I also suggest surrounding yourself with the right people, family and spiritual people and talk about the problem,” says the recovered addict.
“The church is a really important part of helping people who are struggling with addictions. I know rehab deals with chemical imbalances, and they deal with the emotional part, but the spiritual part is always left out and which is very important because we are spiritual beings. If we don’t tap into that spiritual part of us, then we don’t take care of the problem, we just take care of the surface and underneath the foundation is still shaky,” says the star.
Turning to gospel music
J Ross says his decision to turn to gospel music came after he started writing songs for the church where he was a worship leader.
“At the time I was signed with Universal Music, and I just dropped everything, and I was like I’m going to do what God says I must do,” says the ‘I’m Healing’ hitmaker.
He released his first gospel album, ‘Living in Christ’, which was well received by his followers.
The ‘Akekho’ hitmaker says what has been important for him is to be true to himself and not live as a liar.
” The challenges that I’ve seen is that there are a lot of people that are not really saved and that are not living the life that they say they are or that people actually think they are. If you are singing about God and being pure, that’s what you need to represent,” says the star.
From then on, he went to release more gospel albums and his latest, ‘Scrolls’, was premiered in America on the Erica Campbell Show.
To date, J Ross has won at the Texas Gospel Awards and UK’s Gospel Choice Music Awards. He has also won a SAFTA and been nominated for The Prayze Factor Awards in Atlanta.
He remembers the first time he won an international award and says he has gotten all the validation he needs to carry on with music.
“I was in tears. I literally cried when the guys from America called me and I just went down on my knees and said thank you Lord for validating to me that what I’m doing is for you,” concludes J Ross.