An aspiring artist song writer, Jeff, who was yet to get his voice and art out locally speaks on migrating from Haiti to America and his plans on making it into the mainstream music scene.
Roberto Alba: Tell me about yourself and your background?
Jeff Mercier: Growing up was a struggle as is anything else and moving to America was no picnic. I did not live the average life of a child, the American dream was not what it seemed. As a kid, my father and I were bouncing from house to house, going to bed hungry, and not having a stable income was part of my life. I attended Pinewood elementary school in Florida and it was tough because the other children would pick on me and hurl insults like children do. At home things were no better, my dad wasn’t the most sympathetic or understanding. A few years later my dad started dating a woman who is now my step mother. She made me feel big when everyone else made me feel small, she lifted me up higher than the tallest mountain. After some time, his unfaithfulness drove her away and before I knew it, she looked into my eyes and said ‘Jeff, my heart… just can’t take it anymore” we sat together and cried, the next morning when I woke up she was gone. Three years later, my dad had been speaking to my stepmother again and they began rekindling what love they had. After the 8th grade my dad had decided that there was nothing left for us and we packed and moved to Denver, Colorado with my stepmother. During that time I attended and graduated from George Washington High School.
RA: From what I understand, you immigrated to America from Haiti, was there a cultural shock when you moved here?
JM: The culture was very different from Haitian culture. In America, I noticed that kids didn’t respect their elders like children did in Haiti and people aren’t as polite. The food was a nice change. My particular Haitian diet was rice, beans, and vegetables. So coming to america and eating fries, burgers, pork chops and chips was a nice change. In Haiti most of the music is love songs or dance music. In America it was very different; more vulgar language, more women in the videos and less of a meaning. There was a wide variety of changes that I had to become accustomed to.
RA:Whose choice was it to make the change?
JM: It was my dad’s choice to move to America, he thought we’d have had a better life because when you live in a 3rd world country, there isn’t much opportunity for success.
RA: How has your experience been like since the change?
JM: Since moving to America life has been hard, but I’m glad we moved to this country. When I was a child I was told how bright I am and how I’m going to do great things, like every other child hears. But I personally always knew I was meant to be great, I knew that the trials and tribulations that I went through would be nothing compared to the things I would achieve in the future.
“Music gives me a sense of freedom. I want others to see me like I’ve always wanted them to.”
RA: What inspired you to get into music?
JM: I was in the choir and theater while I was younger. I enjoyed acting and singing, those were my two passions. Nothing else ever interested me more than singing and when I had to decided that I wanted to take music to the next level, I started to search for a vocal teacher and eventually found one who would help me build my voice. In my heart I know this is the right path for me and I’ve made the right choice. I have never committed myself to anything like I have my music. Music gives me a sense of freedom and I want others to see me like I’ve always wanted them to.
RA: What steps have you taken to make it into the local scene?
JM: For a few months now I’ve been working with a group of people who organize and run performance classes at Performance High. They are performers themselves and know the ropes. Many of them are in bands and perform all around Denver in small venues and have been in that line of work for many years. There are two coaches who have been working with me, one for vocal and the other for stage work. I am being taught how to move on stage, address the audience, and hold the mic. I’m being trained on how to work the stage and avoid embarrassment. I have not started performing yet because I want to make sure I’m ready to get up and sing in front of others without being nervous. Once I become accustomed to the music scene I plan on finding areas willing to let me perform, paid or unpaid.
RA: Thank you for your time Jeff, good luck.
JM: Thank you.