In January, Jason Derulo suffered a neck injury that threatened both his career and his life. The accident, sustained during rehearsal for his Future History Tour, forced Derulo to cancel his international tour and was a devastating blow to the rising star’s momentum. Now on the road to recovery, the “Watcha Say” singer is rehabbing and plotting a return to glory with some help from fellow singer and girlfriend Jordin Sparks. His comeback will also be aided by the folks at Coca-Cola and American Idol, who tapped Jason to participate in their Perfect Harmony competition, which invites fans to collaborate with the chart-topping young singer on a track. BET.com caught up with the 22-year-old who’s been around the world and back twice to talk about taking things one day at a time, his time spent abroad and what he has planned for the future.
BET.com: How is the recovery process going?
Jason Derulo: It’s good. It’s been a long one. It’s very different. But through this process the world has been able to slow down a bit and I got a chance to take in everything that’s happened to me — all the blessings — and really focus on what’s important in life, which is my loved ones. It’s been a blessing in disguise because I’m able to tell this story and try to inspire others. Once you get knocked down, it doesn’t mean you’ve gotta stay down. And that’s what the song “Undefeated” is about, and “Perfect Harmony,” in general. Being able to get knocked down and get back up where you left off or going further.
Was there ever a point that you felt like you wouldn’t be able to overcome it?
I mean, yeah. You have those days where it’s just really difficult. You’re in so much pain, and me, personally, I don’t like to put my pain on other people. So a lot of times I’ll hold in my pain so the people are good.
I’m guessing that Jordin Sparks is one of those people. What’s been her role in this process?
Through this process, we’ve gotten much closer. The bulk of our relationship has been in this process — we’ve been dating for about six months and I broke my neck four months ago. So the bulk of our relationship has been through this and she’s been that backbone that I needed. She’s been there every time I needed something… From tying my shoelaces to being there to make me feel confident.
You get just as much, if not more, love abroad as you do here in the United States. How does it feel to be an international star?
It’s always been my dream to share my music with the world. The fact that I can go to all these different countries and get that love has been amazing. To even learn about new cultures. My biggest markets are outside of America, even places that are non-English speaking. Going to places like Japan and seeing all the fans singing my lyrics back to me when they don’t necessarily speak English at all. It’s an incredible feeling. And this whole situation forced me to cancel my tour, which is the hardest part of this whole thing. This was going to be my second tour, it was going to be much bigger and much better and I put so much into it. And I had to cancel it, unfortunately, because of my accident. But everything happens for a reason and I whole-heartedly believe that. And I’m in the studio right now making a new album that I’m really excited about. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
What’s the best memory you’ve kept from your time overseas?
Being in Asia and these girls are coming up to me and they’re totally in tears. Two young girls, and they can’t really speak to me. So I’m trying to show them love back, but I can’t really do anything like that. And then finally someone comes and helps out with the whole situation translating for us. And they were telling me how much my music has touched them and how much my music has helped them through different situations. And that has helped me to see that it’s not necessarily about what the lyrical content may be, but the feeling that the song gives somebody. If the song makes somebody feel good then it touches them on a different level.
Have you spent a lot of your recovery time writing new material?
The bulk of this process has been me in the studio making a new album. I’ve been so inspired by everything so it’s not hard at all. So my music is coming from a different perspective cause I have a different perspective on life. So I feel like this process has helped me to grow up a little bit. And it’s not about the glitz, it’s not about the glamour, it’s not about the fame. It’s about the fans and it’s about the love that I have for what I do.
How will the new perspective come through in your music?
You’ll definitely have a more heartfelt portion of the album. And then you’ll have a celebration part. This is not a tragedy. It’s not that. It’s a difficult time in my life that’s made me stronger. So there’ll be a celebratory side of it as well. The song “Undefeated” talks about that. This whole Perfect Harmony Competition that’s going on with American Idol and Coca-Cola and myself, it’s really cool cause the fans actually get to help me write this song. And like I said, this song is about bouncing back when you’ve been knocked down. So I’m really excited about the competition as a whole because they get to participate in three ways. They can submit lyrics to the song, they can vote on the lyrics that they think would fit best in the song and they get to see me perform it live on the season finale of American Idol.
Do you have any tips for fans who plan to participate in the competition?
The truth always connects the best. Try to make your lines have some truth in it. The most important part is to try to evoke emotion. People want to feel something. People want to laugh, people want to cry, people want to feel something. That’s why we go to the movie theater, that’s why we listen to music. Just try to evoke emotion. Music helps us through everything. Elevators, everyone used to be terrified of elevators. But once they added music to elevators, everyone was OK. That’s why there’s a specific type of music that plays in an elevator.
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(Photo: Michael Becker/Fox)