Jahméne Douglas, runner up of the X-Factor 2012, discovered language learning with Rosetta Stone over the holidays and has been using it ever since. In 2013, he released his debut album, Love Never Fails, and it peaked at number one on the UK Album Chart. He is currently recording his second album, which is set for release soon. We caught up with Jahméne to find out more about what he’s been up to and his love of language.
Are you working on any new material at the moment?
I am currently in the process of recording the second album and have gathered so many tracks. The inspiration behind the album is everything I wanted my first album to be. Going through a bit of a rough start in my life, you end up channelling certain things to pull you through. For me that was my faith and music so this next album I want it to be that for somebody else. Creating a zone to be uplifted, inspired or comforted by. I have so many pent up emotions and feelings because of the life I’ve led and that only ever comes out in my music. Hopefully that depth comes across.
We understand language plays a part in the new album – can you tell us a bit more about that?
If I learn Mandarin in time … It will be something I’m so proud of that I would have to incorporate it in the second album. It would be one of my greatest achievements. It’s also something I’ll be blurting out to people in interviews on the next album launch and recommending Rosetta Stone because I’ve never come across a self learning app/software that is so effective. For this to happen at the beginning of 2015, to stumble across the free demo for Mandarin, has reignited my passion for learning in general. The approach is so brilliant I forgot how capable I was at picking up new things, we just need the right direction and methods. So I feel like saying thank you to Rosetta Stone!
What excites you about learning a new language (particularly Chinese)?
I’ve always been very passionate about learning. My mother instilled that in me through a period of being home educated. She bought us quite a few things to learn from in French and German. My siblings and I even had pen pals. (Do they still do that?) I believe in communication, speech and face to face conversations. It is such a huge part of how the human race gets closer to being less ignorant and misinformed and achieves understanding and togetherness. Learning a new language breaks down barriers. There are so many languages and cultures in the world yet the majority of us only speak one language. I don’t want to die only knowing one language or knowing I didn’t try. Learning languages is a never-ending exciting journey which I’m glad to be chasing. Chinese baffles and fascinates me. It’s a code I want to crack and a culture that has always interested me. I love the way it’s written!
I feel it’s a million worlds away, I want to make that tangible, to grasp that and understand it. It will open up my entire life to something I’ve never known. Imagine not learning your first language as a child and how much that would take away from you and then imagine having TWO languages!
What was your favourite place that you’ve been to while on tour?
I’ve only toured around the United Kingdom but I’ve sung in many different places including France, Indonesia, Dubai, Holland. I’ve also recorded in LA and New York. Being a singer it’s almost part of your job to sing around the world. So I feel it’s also part of my job (and my character) to learn about these places and that includes the languages. Indonesia was an amazing experience. I was out there representing the UK on their “X Factor around the world” show. Paula Abdul, Louis Walsh and Daniel Bedingfield were part of the judging panel. It was my first time in that part of the world and the longest flight I’ve ever taken! It was crazy to see the contrast between the rich and poor and how their billboards were not Indonesian faces. The biggest shock I took away from there was how many people spoke English. I couldn’t believe it! I was welcomed at the airport with banners in English and my entire stay I was surrounded by Indonesians who spoke English. So… I made it my mission to leave with some Indonesian Bahasa. I’ve done that with every place I’ve travelled to whether it’s work or a holiday. I see it as being respectful and loving.
What is your favourite piece of music in another language?
My favourite piece of music in another language would have to be “The Diva Dance” from “The Fifth Element”(1997). I have absolutely no idea what it translates to, but have always enjoyed that scene in the movie and how it was sung. Thinking back I believe part of the song had subtitles. I also love how people such as Nat King Cole, Diana Ross and J.Lo have released their songs in different languages, (usually Spanish). Rapping in French is also quite impressive!
What do you feel language learning and making music have in common?
I would say communication of emotions and connecting to people. Even as a child, if people asked me what I’d want my superpower to be, I’d say “To speak all languages.”
What would you say to Simon Cowell in Mandarin?
I would say, “Do you understand what I’m saying? No? …Try Rosetta Stone.” Haha! (All in Mandarin, of course.)
How did you find learning languages at school?
I found it was brought in too late. Plus, I had French and German to learn all at once. It all went over my head. I believe that languages should be made mandatory at a younger age for it to catch on. I feel I’ve missed out on such a huge opportunity not having access at a younger age through school! It completely opens up the world for you to be able to speak two or three languages. How can every single Indonesian person I bumped into speak English yet here a lot of us are speaking English badly. I’m not from a rich background either, very much the opposite, so the only place I would’ve or could’ve received it would have been at school.
What is the first phrase you want to learn in Mandarin?
There are so many phrases to choose from. I’m going to go with “Stay blessed and encouraged always”. I wonder at what level I will be able to put that together?
What would you say to your Chinese fans in Mandarin?
Hopefully the second album will be released in China! I’ve had music released in Indonesia and still understand some of the tweets sent through in Bahasa. What would i say though? Keep smiling!
If, like Jahméne, you’d like to learn Mandarin, try our free Mandarin demo!