Recorded by The Emotions in 1969 at Stax Records, the single So I Can Love You has been a favourite on Jamaican radio since then.
Recently, singer Novel-T added a reggae flavour to the soul classic. Her version, which topped the South Florida Reggae Chart for two weeks in July, is produced by Oliver Millwood for Melody Productions.
Novel-T recorded the song two years ago after Millwood first approached her. She admits to being “only slightly familiar” with the original which gave The Emotions their first hit. Once she agreed, putting her stamp on it was the next step.
“I’m not one to try to reproduce a song exactly like it was before; I try to make it my own in some way. I listened to the original just enough to get the melody and the general direction of the song. Then I figured out how I can put my own feel and sound to it, while still having enough of the original flavour to make it authentic and recognisable, but different,” said Novel-T.
So I Can Love You is her latest chart-topper in South Florida, a region with a thriving reggae scene. Her previous number ones include Keep it Moving and Two Makes One.
Throughout the 1990s, Novel-T was a fixture on the live show scene in Jamaica and South Florida. She also sang harmony for a number of artistes in the latter region where she has lived for over 25 years.
The last two years have seen the singer come into her own as a frontline act, scoring three number one songs in South Florida to emerge as a leading contender.
Last year, she topped the South Florida Foundation Network Chart with ‘Love Won’t Let us Wait’ with singer Peter G, and ‘Keep it Moving’. Novel-T snared her first number one the previous year with ‘Tough Like A Diamond’.
She is eager to conquer new frontiers including the Jamaican market.
“Being a native daughter of Jamaica, it would obviously mean a lot to me to have more exposure on the major outlets in Jamaica which would result in the general public becoming more aware of my works and my name. It’s natural for anyone to want to be accepted and embraced ‘a yuh yaad’ even if you are famous abroad,” said Novel-T.
Born Novelette Fellows, Novel-T grew up in the August Town/Hermitage areas of St Andrew. She has been recording solo since 2012, and felt no pressure making the transition to lead vocalist.
“There was really no difficulty because I was always a lead singer ever since I began singing. From school choir and school festival groups, to church, and even when I started going out into the professional world as a singer in Jamaica, I was singing as either a solo artiste or lead with whatever band I was with,” she said. “So, singing harmony for other artistes was just an added layer that gave me more dimension, and helped me develop into a more rounded singer.”
Prior to her solo work, she did backing vocals for well-known acts like Calton Coffie, former lead singer of Inner Circle. Novel-T also performed at major events such as the Midem Festival in South Beach and sharpened her live act with regular slots at popular South Florida venues such as Ginger Bay, Tugboat Annie’s and Razor’s Palace.
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