Though life kept getting in the way, Jamaican-American R&B artist, Dante Labelle always seemed to find his way back to music, fueled by determination to rise up through hardships and overcome uncertainties.
Born and raised in a large family in Uniondale, New York, Dante began singing at 10-years-old, after stumbling upon a CBS Michael Jackson concert on TV. Infatuated with Jackson’s performance and electrifying dance moves, a musical inspiration ignited in Dante and he began to use Garageband on his school computer to create his own beats, which he would sing over.
At age 11, Dante officially began performing in front of crowds when he joined his church choir. After the choir leader head Dante sing, he saw Dante’s potential and decided to start giving him leads and solos, which always warranted a standing ovation. Given the positive response, Dante began taking it upon himself to write and perform his own original music at church, testing it out for the public.
When Dante entered high school, he began sports began to take priority for Dante – he refocused his energy toward sports, he grew distracted from music. After a wrestling coach recognized Dante’s athletic abilities, Dante found himself in the sports scene – delving more heavily involved as media began to acknowledge his successes as an athlete.
Dante only continued to further his career as an athlete when he changed schools – now, not only a member of the wrestling team, but the football team as well after being asked to join. Though Dante continued his involvement in sports in his new school, his musical talent was too undeniable to go unrecognized – he was being asked to perform at events and in the choir. However, having become a high school wrestling phenomenon with colleges reaching out for recruitment, music had to sit on the backburner until his senior year.
In his senior year, Dante continued to wrestle but also picked back up on his music more intensely, running late to practices in an attempt to balance his two passions. Trying to find balance while being unhappy in a classroom and going through tough times at home with his family recently evicted, Dante was mentally exhausted and decided to drop out of school.
He began working in his mother’s hair salon, where he was also living and sleeping along with his uncle and grandmother, to help his family with income to keep a roof over their heads.
Working at the salon to fill the days, Dante wanted more for himself and family and reconnected with an old friend from the church choir who had a basic studio in hopes of picking back up on his music. As his friend’s studio began expanding and doing better, Dante felt an urge to take music more seriously and put money toward recording. Releasing covers were not his thing, Dante started to record more and more original music.
At 20, Dante decided to go back to school to get his GED. In the midst of doing so and trying to manage his music career, Dante’s greatest inspiration, his grandmother passed away – the woman who was serving as Dante’s passion and drive that needed to pursue his music career, to ensure that she would never have to sleep in the back of a hair salon again. Between his grandmother’s passing and now being forcing to live in hotel rooms with his family and sleep in the back of his jeep – struggling with money, transportation and jobs, his music career yet again was at an unwilling halt.
Upon completing his GED, Dante was offered a job doing maintenance at an air-traffic building – an opportunity he didn’t pass up because he needed the income, part of which he was able to use to get back into the studio and finally work on creating to the best of his abilities and jump starting his music career.
Dante’s purpose in his music is to use it as his personal meditation and medication, with hopes that it provides the same therapeutic feeling for others.
He is currently recording and building himself as an artist. For more information on Dante Labelle, visit his Instagram @DanteLabelle.