"The fans might not be there to see me, but every chance I get, I'm gonna' show them what kind of R&B I'm bringing to the table," says JRDN (AKA Jordan Croucher). The silky-voiced singer is opening a Canadian tour with pop-rockers Hedley, his biggest gig so far. But this smooth operator is just getting warmed up.
Born in Toronto and raised in Halifax, Croucher's been on the rise for almost a decade. After the gold hits, "U Can Have it All" (2010), "Like Magic" (2012) and heavy MuchMusic rotation, your boy from the Square has been nominated for a 2014 Juno for R&B/soul recording of the year for "Can't Choose" featuring Kardinall Offishall.
After a career as an all-star shooting guard with the St. FX men's basketball team, Croucher played a semi-pro season in France before returning to Halifax. He was just starting to develop his musical ambitions when his friends wisely convinced him to audition for season three of Canadian Idol in 2005. "That's when I learned what type of artist I really wanted to be and the genre I was going to focus on," he says. He finished in the top 70 of over 12,000 contestants, "That's also when I learned that maybe I do have a shot at this, and I should continue to work hard. And now here I am with a Juno nomination."
At 35, Croucher's only regret is that he didn't follow his intuition to pursue music sooner in life. "I've learned nothing's going to happen overnight. It's like basketball," he says. "I sucked. I was the worst kid in the Square to be honest, but I made sure I focused. I wanted it so bad and I spent so much time and effort on the court, but it takes time. I just finally feel like now I'm getting to the right place, because I'm kind of a late bloomer. I wish I had started earlier because I might be further along as a songwriter and producer, but I did have life experiences from ball and that really help me as an artist."
He says the move to Toronto was necessary to make strides in the industry and continue growing. After his first tour, he teamed up with Dutch Robinson for vocal training and wants to spend more time coaching his voice. He's also got plans to start producing his own beats and mixing his jams. "I've been really listening to myself, trying to figure out what direction I want to go in. I get inspired by other music. Beyoncé's last album felt really good to me, it felt effortless, that's exactly what I want." He also listens to Drake, Pusha T, Quake Matthews: "I try to keep up with the fellas back home."
When he finishes the Hedley tour, he plans to return to Halifax for the summer with his eyes set on breaking into America. "I'd like to work with [the producers] Stargate. I think that would be the difference between being a Canadian artist and an international artist." For now, Croucher is excited to live his dream of performing in the Metro Centre, a goal he's had since playing basketball there in university.
"I remember warming up before a game and thinking about singing on that stage someday. So, you have to keep working hard and definitely believe in yourself. Never give up," he says. "Even me, I'm still not at the level I want to be at. But if you believe in it and love it, then put all your energy into it and it'll show."
Hedley w/ JRDN, Danny Fernandes, Alyssa Reid
Tuesday, March 18 at 7pm, $58.25-$73.25
Halifax Metro Centre