Ephrem J
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The story begins in Curacao, the Dutch Caribbean. Ephrem Jonathan Ocalia was born on November 24, 1984. His father, Ephrem Ocalia Sr., sang and was his first inspiration as a child. Ephrem J, often encouraged by his father, started his singing try-outs participating in local talent shows. He was soon discovered as a talented singer by local bands and got guidance by more experienced singers, although he remains a largely self-taught singer. Soon he became the lead singer of the local band Guess, singing mostly “ritmo kombiná”, a local music genre comparable to Kadans. At the end of 2006 Ephrem J was the most credited local young singer in Curacao. He received several awards for best male vocalist and local singer of the year. Highly inspired by singers as Luther Vandross and other American and Latin American singers like Ricardo Arjona and Marc Anthony, Ephrem J quit the band Guess, only to start his solo career early 2007. Ephrem felt comfort in meshing romantic lyrics that the Latin American and Caribbean audience listens to with lite adult contemporary music arrangements provided by local musicians Gregory Colina and Gedion Chandler and soon released his first album. Both the song “Speransa” (Hope), and “Stimabu So” (‘Love you so’) reached very high on the local charts and became soon women of all ages sing along hits. A 10.000+ audience cheering and swinging at Ephrem J’s performance at one of the local biggest concerts, the Big Shot Concert, in October 2007 was just another defining moment of his career. “This is the kind of music that some women totally swoon over because it's very romantic and sweet”, according to Kyler England from www.wearelistening.org. At the end of 2007 he received several awards, one of which was the “Edgar Supriano-award” as singer of the year by the national association of musicians and artists. In February 2008 he participated at the carnival’s Tumba contest with Gio Fuertisimo and got awarded as the third finalist among more than 60 participants. His solo career took another step forward when he performed the song “Atrobe” (meaning Again) with the Marineband of the Royal Marines (a harmonic orchestra) of the Netherlands, consisting of 50 musicians. He kept reaping the fruits of his first album when the song “Stimabu So” was selected as a runner-up and finalist in the 100% Music Songwriter Contest and the World of Music Awards (www.wearelistening.org). In December 2008 Ephrem J released his second album “Latin Evolution” with Latin songs, once again showing his multi-talents as a singer and songwriter. Issa Wilson from Latin Music Artists wrote: “The lead vocal has character and has the star quality that a lot of the great performers have.” Recently Ephrem J received the award for Most Popular Singer of 2008 by Premio Karabela, a local youth organization and the award for Singer of the Year by Latino y Locales, a Dutch-Caribbean-Latin organization recognizing Latinos in Curacao and locals efforts during the year. In January 2009 the song “Mala Suerte” from this album was named as one of Top 5 for “Song of the Month” selection while Ephrem J was named as one of the Top 5 artists for the “Vocalist of the Month” by Dale Kawashima of www.singeruniverse.com.