Pop diva stays true to herself
Janelle Gallant, a.k.a. Jayne Avaunt, pursues success on her own terms
Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
In St. Albert she’s known as Janelle Gallant, a talented pop singer who made her mark through the children’s theatre and Musical Mania.
Down in Los Angeles she goes by the moniker of Jayne Avaunt, Canada’s newest pop vixen trying to blaze a trail on the American landscape.
“Jayne is so bold, so big and confident. She knows herself. She’s not cookie cutter. She doesn’t just want to be in the world. She wants to create the world. Janelle, on the other hand, is softer, more emotional, more down to Earth,” said Avaunt in a long-distance interview from the American film capital.
Bloggers are talking about Avaunt’s new hit single Hear Me. It’s part of a newly released five-track EP titled March, produced under the guiding hand of industry heavy hitter Prince Saheb. The ambitious producer is signed to Ray J’s vanity label Knockout Entertainment.
“He’s a prodigy and so young and enthusiastic. He’s just brilliant. He can play every instrument. He knows every aspect of music. He can write sheet music, play piano and guitar, and use the computer to electronically record,” Avaunt said.
March was a concept album that sees her going through the wringer and coming out a stronger woman. It took one year to complete and was conceived during a period of frustration at the music industry.
“I was working so hard, but there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I had just gone through a breakup and I wanted to scream.”
Hear Me became a symbol of the redheaded artist’s frustration.
“Literally, it was ‘hear me world.’ It was me releasing my frustrations on the industry that can be so stupid. People were trying to change me, but if it works, why change who you are?”
At first she attempted to follow advice that was transforming her into a pop clone. But it never felt right and she spoke up.
“I’m an emotional, energetic, open person. It’s not that I don’t have a filter. It’s just that I have drive, confidence and I’m loud.”
Through March, Avaunt developed a soulful electronic brand that travels from Mary Jayne, a happy song about the crazy-in-love Spider-Man’s girlfriend, to Drowning in You, a sad, wallowing, self-pitying song. Out of Reach is a reflective number while March celebrates empowerment.
“It’s an ‘I’ve made it through song and I’m going to conquer the world,’” she says.
Even before hitting California, Avaunt was leaving her trademark on the industry. Honing her talents, she attended the Victoria School of Performing Arts while studying dance for 17 years at the Art of Dance.
A natural performer, she was a favourite at St. Albert Children’s Theatre and at Cindy Oxley’s Musical Mania.
“Musical Mania introduced me to pop singing. St. Albert Children’s Theatre was more Broadway musicals.”
In her spare time she won several trophies and medals for beauty pageants and local modelling projects. She even captured the title of Miss Teen Edmonton.
“I was the kid doing everything in school.”
Avaunt had ambition and higher education soon followed at Ontario’s Sheridan College.
“I was cocky. I thought I knew it all. I learned who I was as a performer. They put you through the wringer. It was a very intense program and it shows you the kind of performer you are. The instructors are open with your faults. They tear you apart and put you back together.”
Avaunt managed to obtain a performance visa for American markets, a process that took about 18 months.
“When I got in, for the first six months I networked like crazy. You have to be confident, otherwise you drown here.”
If anything, Avaunt is floating after an EP release and two professionally filmed videos on YouTube – the bangled Hear Me and the elegant, but deadly Drowning in You.