Janice Turner meticulously prepared tripe and beans for her celebrated son, Sean Kingston, last Saturday and if and when he desires ackee and saltfish, stew peas or pig’s tail, she will don her apron without hesitation.
Two months ago, Turner, daughter of the legendary Jack Ruby and mother of Sean Kingston, was serving time for tax evasion, an offence for which she served over two years in prison.
“Now I am playing catch up,” she remarked demurely, the precursor of a larger-than-life smile that shows off pearly white teeth and a good-natured personality.
Two stressful years behind bars and she returns to find her son’s career has shot to the top of the charts in the United States, sitting pretty with stardom on his doorsteps, months after releasing his first hit, Beautiful Girls.
For Turner, part of the job in playing catch up is to correct the name of the song, which she says, matter-of-factly, “is not titled Suicidal, many people have been using that name mistakenly.
In fact, Turner is in tune with the nonchalant attitude of many detractors when Kingston made his successful debut, when words such ‘fluke’ and ‘is a one song’ were uttered.
Overcome with emotion
But, today, she is able to sympathise with those who made those statements, as many have since eaten their words after he released the song Dry Your Eyes.
She said she was overcome and cried after he recorded Dry Your Eyes, which was dedicated to her.
“He did Beautiful Girls for me on the phone while I was incarcerated and I screamed and said, Kisean (his real name) that’s a hit.”
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner from the comfort of her living room in South Florida, the former mortgage broker who is now personal manager of her son’s career and who was released from confinement two months ago, said she left Jamaica in 1978 at 12 years old.
A daughter of Ocho Rios, St. Ann, she grew up around musicians. Her father, the late Jack Ruby, famed Jamaican producer, always had musicians at the house, each bringing their unique sound.
Yet, for her, there was no automatic involvement in music. However, Kingston was exposed to music and carried that passion with him.
“This is a ‘big’ music family. Sean would be involved in music because of his love for music at an early age. It was inevitable that he would be a musician, as both mom and dad have a passion for it.”
The first inkling she had that there was musical talent within her household was while Kingston was three years old.
“He sang a Whitney Houston with so much compassion I knew he had potential.”
Chanting Whitney Houston’s songs was really the beginning of Sean Kingston’s love affair with music, and throughout his life Turner was forced to make regular trips to a number of principals’ offices at the schools he attended. Instead of schoolwork, Kingston’s notebooks became songbooks.
“He knew he would be big one day and he wasn’t about to give up on that,” remarked the mother of three.
Outside of school, she said the 17-year-old found time to make CDs from the compilation of songs he would write. He would then hand them out in the malls.
“He never went to the movies like other kids; he wanted to go to recording studios or target the younger audience in the malls.”
Kingston’s determination has paid off royally, and today he is a megastar, but he will tell you that he prayed every single night.
” ‘God give me an album’, I would pray,” he reminisced.
Finally, the lord answered his prayers, and his life and the life of everyone in his household has changed dramatically.
“We are no longer normal people, we barely get to see Sean because he literally lives on the road and the media is constantly in our faces,” his mother said.
In a state of happiness, Turner’s face flushed with pride as she spoke about her son’s drive, ambition and achievements.
“I didn’t expect fame at such an early age, but I knew it would happen at some point in his life because of his love for music and his drive.”
Throughout this transformation, Turner said her son remains committed to his Jamaican culture.
“He speaks Jamaican, doesn’t eat American food, the colour scheme he uses whenever he performs is Jamaican, including the necklace he wears.”
So what does Sean have to say about the woman he calls the rock in his family? The woman he hugged playfully on arrival at home in South Florida last Saturday?
“We had a mentality in this family that she was never ever gonna go away, so when it happened (her imprisonment), it cut everyone into who they are. We were so stressed out,” he disclosed, admitting that at 15 years old when it happened, he was a mama’s boy.
On Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, Kingston makes his Jamaican debut at Bucksfield in Ocho Rios, and his wish is to become Jamaica’s ambassador, the way Acorn is to Africa.
He shares centre stage with the likes of Jimmy Riley, Vybz Kartel, Busy Signal, Rootz Underground, Fantan Mojah, Sasha, D’Angel, George Nooks and Little Hero.