If Des’ree’s deliciously hypnotic top 10 single ”You Gotta Be” sounds like a mini-motivational seminar, it’s because the London-based singer-songwriter is a walking testament to the power of positive thinking. Consider the genesis of her record deal: ”I woke up one morning with an oddly positive feeling,” recalls Des’ree, ”and I told my manager to send my demo over to the chap who signed Terence Trent D’Arby to CBS [now Sony]. Only he would understand my music.” A week later, the young singer with no connections in the music business had been signed by Sony 550/Epic; her debut album, Mind Adventures, was released in 1992.
Des’ree Weekes, 25, took the road less traveled early on. Her West Indian parents moved the family from London to Barbados when she was 10. ”My father was a musician, so I learned to love the free and creative spirit of jazz,” says Des’ree, who, as a child, used to sing along to Bob Marley records. ”He was proud of who he was,” she says of her idol. ”He had humor, and his spiritual message was so pungent.”
It was the painful demise of a relationship that prompted Des’ree to read Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization, which in turn inspired her to write ”You Gotta Be” for her second album, I Ain’t Movin’. ”I’ve always been blindly optimistic, and that helped me rise from my melancholia,” says the singer, who swears by daily affirmations.
Now that self-love ”has saved the day,” she’s gotta be thinking about her next project. ”Spike Lee asked me to write a song for [Clockers], a movie he is making with Martin Scorsese. I scribble lyrics whenever they come to me — on toothpaste boxes, airline airsickness bags, and napkins,” laughs Des’ree. ”I walk into the recording studio with what looks like garbage.” No doubt she’ll turn it into treasure.