JRDN is a man of many talents. From swimming competitively as a child to playing basketball in university, it might have come as a surprise that he wanted to pursue a music career.
Even JRDN didn’t know music was his calling until later in life. While he always knew that he loved singing, he didn’t always want to be in the limelight.
“When I was younger, I’d sing around a lot of my peers and my community and they would make fun of me and call me names so I (would) only sing around people I was comfortable with,” he said.
Born Jordon Croucher, the singer grew up in Toronto and Halifax — the the two cities he says helped him discover his love for music and basketball.
In Toronto, he was neighbours with King Lou, a member of a local rap group called the Dream Warriors, who opened him to hip hop culture and breakdancing. Living in the east coast, he was introduced to basketball because “In Halifax, if you didn’t play football, you played basketball.”
He only started singing during his years at St. Francis University, first as a means to meet girls.
“My roommate knew I could sing. He came in the room one day and he said, ‘Yo! They got karaoke, man! We gotta go meet some girls, we gotta go sing some songs!’ So I did it and I fell in love with the stage.”
In his third year of university, he became the lead in a band that performed Michael Jackson, D’Angelo and even some Van Morrison covers. Of course, that was still five years before JRDN decided to fully commit to music. He was still chasing his dream of playing in the NBA. In fact, his success on the court eventually led him to play the sport professionally in France for a year.
It was only in 2004 when the now 34-year-old singer decided to put away his basketball shoes and move back to Halifax where he was offered a job helping high school kids in the community. He also started recording music at the same time, but it took a while for him to eventually find breakthrough success.
Before he got on the airwaves with hits like “U Can Have It All” and “Like Magic,” he auditioned for the third season of Canadian Idol. Although he failed to make the top 32, the singer says he feels relieved about the elimination.“It was actually a blessing in disguise,” he explains. “I knew I could have competed but I wasn’t seasoned enough. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have enough experience.”
But not one to give up, a producer from Idol encouraged him to go for the now-cancelled Much 911, a Muchmusic show that would make a contestant’s wildest dream come true. To this day, JRDN says he still gets recognized for appearing on an episode.
“That kind of solidified me as an up and coming R&B singer,” he says of the experience. “It was great that I had the room to grow as an artist instead of just being thrown into the spotlight.”
Almost 10 years later, JRDN has since opened for Nas and Rihanna and has worked with the likes of Kardinal Offishall and Classified. But of all the big-named celebs that have crossed his path, he says meeting Ne-Yo was one of the best moments of his career so far. “He was really humble and down-to-earth,” JRDN says of the R&B hitmaker, who told him to stay grounded and to “keep his circle small.”
It was also Ne-Yo who directed the singer to go out for open-mic nights in New York City. That advice led him to the Village Underground, where his performance was warmly received. “It was amazing. I sang and I got an encore. (30 Rock actor) Tracy Morgan was there and he started the encore. It was really cool that that happened for me.”
Currently, JRDN is taking steps to finish his third album. He just wrapped up a music video with Kardinal Offishall for their single ‘Can’t Choose,’ which they took a trip down to Belize to film.
JRDN says he would love to work with artists like Jay Z, Pharrell, Alicia Keys and Drake but he says he’s always up for experimenting with different genres.
“I don’t think music has a limit on it. I’m definitely not opposed to other genres and collaborating with other artists,” he says. “One of my goals is to try to make a song from at least every genre. To try everything.”
JRDN’s Can’t Choose ft. Kardinal Offishall is now available on iTunes!