UNION — A Union man whose love of music began in school and resulted in his becoming an indie music producer will represent the Upstate in a competition against 11 other producers from throughout the southeast.
Jerome Durham, 23, is a lifelong resident of Union who began producing music as a teenager.
“I have been producing music since the age of 13,” Durham said recently. “When I was younger, my keyboard was more important to me than my Playstation which was a popular gaming console at the time.
“My entry and spark into music was instilled in me by Buddy Wilkes, who was my band director all years of my public school career,” he said. “I played trumpet and participated in music GT.”
Durham said that in addition to Wilkes, he has had three other mentors who have encouraged his musical aspirations. They are Union natives Kevin Gray and Calvin Peake and Spartanburg native Matt Jenkins.
“Calvin introduced me to the equipment,” Durham said “Kevin motivated me with his feedback. Matt introduced me to the business side of music through concerts, tours, and introducing me to people along the way.”
Durham is currently employed as an industrial engineer with Boise Cascade in Chester, but this has not prevented him from pursuing a career in music as an indie music producer. He said that he has produced digital music for artists in New York, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
“My stage/producer alias is ‘Jaroc’ which you can easily identify as a sound tag in my instrumentations,” Durham said.
Durham said he loves performing and producing music because of the ubiquitous and influential nature of music today. He said that creating music combines passion, creativity, and technological ability.
“I feel that music is one of the most influential occurrences in our daily lives,” Durham said “There is not one place or moment in time that you do not hear a jingle or tune. As a musician, I am able to channel my thoughts and emotions into a harmonic digital wave file. The technical jargons that come with using the equipment, mixing, and editing are no longer my biggest challenge. The hardest part for me is controlling the excitement I experience when I am creating melodies.”
Durham — or, if you prefer, Jaroc — may be on the verge of bringing his passion and talent to a whole new level in his career in music as he will compete July 28 in the “BEAT Royale” in Atlanta, Ga.
“The BEAT Royale opportunity arose through a website called Indaba Music,” Durham said. “Indaba Music is the International Social website for indie musicians. One million members from all parts of the world submit compositions daily. Contests are posted monthly and the forum is closely watched by teams of record label administrators, A&Rs, managers, and artists.
“Your song is given the opportunity to be displayed on their website,” he said. “Listeners can vote and comment. The song with the most votes and comments are picked as the winner and prizes or invitations are sent out.”
Durham said that through the Indaba website he entered what is called the “Simple Flip” contest, a competition between producers like himself. He did very well in the first round of the competition finishing in the top 1o.
“Out of two hundred submissions my instrumentation placed eighth,” Durham said.”One of the listening judges, Jeff Blackwell, Senior Music and Development Representative for Dynamic Producers, sent me an email inviting me to compete as the SC Upstate contender. The producer battle will take place July 28 at 9 a.m. at “The Basement” in Atlanta in front of a crowd of 1,500 musical spectators.”
Durham said that the first, second, and third place winners in the competition will receive cash prizes and, even more importantly, the opportunity to meet with music executives and gain exposure.
One of Durham’s goals as an indie music producer and a competitor in BEAT Royale is to bring attention to Union County and the musical talent that he says exists here.
“There is a lot of talent in Union, South Carolina,” Durham said. “Hopefully through this opportunity I will be able to bring attention to this place I call home.”
Durham is the grandson of Mary Durham, a long-time employee of Hardee’s. His mother is Stephanie Durham who is a teacher at Jonesville Elementary/Middle School. His brother, Jermarcus Durham, is pursuing a football career at Mars Hill College in North Carolina.
This story courtesy of Jerome Durham.