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Jamaica finds its way to the World Cup

Published:Sunday | July 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM
From left: Thierry Henry, Jules Dougall and Akon are all smiles on the set of 'Oh Africa' in Johannesburg, South Africa. - Contributed

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

As the teams battle it out in the ongoing FIFA World Cup, Jamaican Julia 'Jules' Dougall has already scored her goal and is heading on to new and exciting avenues. At only 24 years old, Dougall is almost a veteran in the music business as the woman behind creating Pepsi's World Cup campaign.

Dougall was the creative force behind Akon and Keri Hilson's Oh Africa, which is being used as the song for the 2010 Pepsi World Cup commercial.

With a music video out and the commercial in constant rotation globally, the catchy African-drum-heavy Oh Africa is one of two songs that World Cup lovers are being bombarded with throughout the competition.

While it may seem like easy magic to listeners, Oh Africa, for Dougall, was a year and a half of work in the making.

When Dougall spoke with The Sunday Gleaner from her home in Los Angeles, where she recently relocated, the bubbly youngster was enthused about her success. According to Dougall, she had heard about Pepsi's campaign from a friend in a company she had worked with. She went ahead and decided to test her hand at finding the "right" song for their campaign.

Brokering a deal

It was Dougall who brokered the Oh Africa deal by getting together songwriting duo Rock City, who had written with the likes of the Pussy Cat Dolls and Jennifer Hudson to name a few, and producer AJ, who has worked with Usher.

She said, "We went into the studio together and within 25 minutes we had the song. Rock City wrote it and AJ built the beat. I sent it to my friend at Pepsi who thought it was amazing. She then went to battle for me with the Pepsi heads for the song."

After months of selling the song to Pepsi they soon caught the bait and bought the song from Dougall, who then searched for the talent to perform the song.

Having managed Tami Chynn, who had recently done work with African singer Akon and his Konvict Muzik, Dougall realised, Akon was a likely fit for the song.

"Akon was a hands-down choice. He's African and the song is very African drum-based, plus he's known internationally and I've worked with him and thought he'd be perfect," she said.

After working for months again, Akon was signed, leaving the role for the female part open. Dougall then turned to friend, Keri Hilson, who she thought had the right R&B sound for the song.

After more months of work ,it was a done deal and Oh Africa was created. Dougall said, "At the time, I didn't realise what a dope deal it was and the kinda response I would be getting from people and how proud people were.

"For a Jamaican to do something like this and we're such a small country, it was really amazing."

While she was to be present at the World Cup competition, Dougall soon had to prioritise, though she tries to catch a game now and again. The entrepreneur recently moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles where she will be working alongside Keri Hilson, who is starting her own production company to develop artistes and producers.

Other projects

Dougall will also be working with Ethiopia Habtemariam, whose company, Fakework, has some of the top producers and writers in the business.

"I'm also working on more endorsement deals such as Pepsi's music campaign for 2011, which involves making the music for the commercials and the campaigns," she said.

The youngster has come a long way in the business having loved acting and cosmetology growing up. Having gone to McGill's University for a year and a half, Dougall dropped out to pursue more exciting ventures, returning for cosmetology school and eventually came back to Jamaica to work.

While here, she met up with Tami Chynn, became her manager and eventually part ways when Chynn moved back to Jamaica and broke away from Universal Records.

Dougall's journey has taken her a long way but, now she has found her niche brokering endorsements and working with producers and writers. She hopes to one day have her own business, making sunglasses, among other things.