(June 2015. I realize that this blog post seems confusing, but I am leaving it as it is, to show the strange journey I took in figuring out things eventually, Just skip over to the bottom of this web page to find the results of what I found).
Jessica Jay is a singer who sang the 1995 Europop hit Casablanca and lots of other dance songs. Most of the songs are in English and simply arranged. I also confess I have no idea who this singer is! Despite the massive amounts of information of the Net and several Youtube videos, I am no closer to finding the answer than I was a few years ago. There still is no confirmed photograph of the singer, so she could be European, Asian or an alien from outer space.
It’s not exactly an obsession. She’s a good singer (and that song Casablanca has a special memory for me; it was the first time I ever danced all night, in 1996, when I was in Vlore, Albania). But at this point I simply feel frustrated. Why is finding information about one singer so hard? For this post, I invite other people searching on google to add information (maybe even Jessica Jay herself!).
Here is what I know so far:
- Most importantly, the Philipino dancer Marian Rivera made this dynamite dance video of one of her songs Chichiquita. (You should probably stop and watch/listen to it now. It’s that good) This song comes from a CD called Marian Rivera Dance Hits (note that Rivera does not sing; she merely performs dance numbers to the song).
- According to this Amazon information, “Jessica Jay first emerged in the music scene with “Broken Hearted Woman” in 1993, which became the biggest song of 1993, selling 1 million copies alone in Thailand and more than 500,000 copies in Asia. After a 6-year break, Jessica is back with a long-awaited new album “My Heart Is Back”.
- There are 2 myspace profile for Jessica Jays (see here and here) but I seriously doubt these people are the real Jessica Jay. They are 20 years and 22 years old and don’t have any mentions of her most famous songs.
- Denpasar Moon is another song of Jessica Jay’s on Youtube which simply shows various beach scenes. (That actually is pretty consistent with the Europop feel of her other songs). Update: Boy, was I wrong! Apparently this is based on an Indonesian song, Denpasar Moon (Denpasar is located in Bali, Indonesia with lots of beaches). Also, see Update #4 below.
- Here’s a youtube karaoke version of Broken-Hearted Woman which suggests Asian distribution of this song. (Broken Hearted Song was on the same cassette as Casablanca when I found it in 1997).
- Here’s a youtube video called Chilly Cha Cha. I cannot confirm that this song is by Jessica Jay, but it would not surprise me (especially given the context of that dance number Chichiquita).
- The language of the commenters on youtube have mystified me. On the Chichiquita song, all the commenters are writing in Tagalog; on the Casablanca song, a lot of the commenters are writing in Albanian (!) ; on another, the commenters are writing in a non-Romance language with the Roman alphabet (Turkish?) This video shows that someone made an avatar animation of the Chilly Cha Cha song also by Philipinos.
- The lyrics for most of her early songs like Casablanca and Broken-Hearted Woman are on the Internet everywhere (leading me to believe that the rush to identify song lyrics far outpaces the rush to learn about the singer).
Up until two I have two working theories: First, perhaps Jessica Jay is a Philipino who sings in English (and somehow managed to make inroads in Thailand and get her song put on a Eurodance CD). Second, Jessica Jay is a woman from Spain who sang in English for marketing reasons (Perhaps she married a Phillipino man?). She retired in the late 1990s and only restarted her career a few months ago. The fact that there are no English articles about this singer tells me that her native language cannot possibly be in English and probably not a European language either. Actually, a lot of singers perform for a few years, disappear for a decade and then suddenly spring into the public eye again. (I had that happen with Texas singer Kathy McCarty a few years ago ). Who knows–maybe Jessica Jay is working under our noses disguised as a normal person.
Ironically, the Chichiquita song may do more to catapult Jessica Jay to fame than her previous dance songs. Come on, readers. Help me out here! I’m really looking forward to finding out the real story. Occasionally I do casual Internet detective work to locate people, and I savor the challenge. I heard the song first in 1996 and had no idea how to find the song when I wrote a former student, Ermelinda Gjika and asked her if she knew anything. She immediately knew the singer “Jessica Jay” and even mailed me a copy of a cassette to me at my new job in Ukraine. I was so grateful for her help, but I think Ermelinda didn’t know much more about the singer than the name.
May 28 Update: One Google link identifies a “Jessica Jey” with SAIFAM music, which looks to be a CD distribution company located in Italy. It looks like they distribute lots of compilation CDs consisting of dance/dj hits. They allegedly have a popup page for “Jessica Jey”. It contains nothing but this photo. Often these kinds of cassettes/cd’s contain generic photos of pretty dancers, but let’s assume it’s correct right now.
May 30 Update #2: Ebay Philipines auction for the latest Jessica Jay CD. Seller comments: “never available anywhere and only Singapore and the Philippines issued this album for fans to get hold of…Made in the Philippines by Universal Records.”
June 4 Update #3: Warner Music Thailand has a page about the My Heart is Back album and for a Jessica Jay Greatest Hits album. But alas, the biography page is completely blank! Damn, you Warner Brothers! The “Jessica Jay” is from Thailand is now the default theory (but I notice that it’s also available on Warner Brothers Singapore, so maybe the nationality isn’t important). I noticed that one of the new songs (My Chiw Chiw Thai Boy) uses a foreign phrase and the music video for Casablanca actually seems to be a tourist-promotional video for a beach resort from Thailand.
June 4 Update #4: Another piece of the puzzle is Colin Bass (aka Sabah Habas Mustapha) who wrote the song Denpasar Moon (which Jessica Jay’s Dempasar Moon is a cover version of). His artist site says: The title song, “Denpasar Moon”, was covered by a singer from the Phillipines called Maribeth and her version became the biggest selling English-language record ever in Indonesia. Over 40 cover versions in different regional styles and languages followed”. Ok, let’s think. Colin Bass is an Asian/European singer who is singing in a dangdut pop music style that fuses Asian and Arabic styles. But he was born in England, traveled all throughout Eastern Europe and then produced the song in 1994 in Indonesia, then had it become an international hit sung by a Philipino singer named Maribeth. Purely by coincidence another singer from that region does a cover version of the song which happens to be a hit in the same region Colin Bass traveled extensively in. I’m not saying the paths of these two singers have crossed, but it would bolster the theory that Jessica Jay is from Philipines/Thailand (and certainly not from Europe).
July 4 Update. According to a person commenting, Jessica Jay is a “disco concept,” with Italo-disco star Dora Carofiglio providing the female vocals. That merits a photo, doesn’t it? Update: Simon says this photo is of the wrong person.
Note to commenters: If you came here through a search engine, I would love to hear where you are from in the world and when you heard her songs! If you have seen her sing in person, then you will receive good karma.
September 2, 2008. According to Simon (see below), Dora Carofiglio was the main Jessica Jay. Looking at this Novecento video (in which Dora actually appears!), you can’t deny the similarity in voice. It’s a David Morales mix, and I feel certain he probably mixed Casablanca and the other songs. Amazingly, I can’t seem to find a photo of Dora, although she clearly appears to be singing in the Novecento video. Dora also sang under the name Valerie Dore
Dec 15 2008/April 28, 2008. Cody points out below an update on the SAIFAM website. Amazingly, the bio uses the word “I” several times. Unless this is a literary trick, my guess is that we are hearing Jessica/Dora actually speak. (Shudders of excitement...)
1993 saw the release of a song called Broken Hearted Woman by a brand new face on the music scene named Jessica Jay.
Broken Hearted Woman took Thailand by storm and became an overnight success. It was well accepted across the country and among the people regardless of sex, age and educational background. The song is included in a compilation album called Broken Hearted Woman and propelled the album to 3 million mark in sale. The sale was largely driven by this sole track. It was quite phenomenal in the international music scene, considering it happened 6 years ago when international music was not as a big market in Thailand as today.
The success of the song was also witnessed by more than 30 local artists doing cover version of Broken Hearted Woman in Thai. The saying of 100 messages, 1 rhythm came after the hype created by Broken Hearted Woman among the Thai artists who did the covers. Although the market was flooded by so many covers of the song, the sales figures of the parent albums did not seem to suffer at all.
It is not unusual an upbeat tune enhanced by strong, yet powerful voice would be embraced and received a massive exposure. There is no denying that Broken Hearted Woman was 1993 Song Of The Year.
But who is Jessica Jay, by the way?
Born and raised in an upper middle class musical family in Europe, Jessica Jay was so into singing that she recorded more than 100 songs. However, she never thought that one of them would become successful somewhere in Asia. I never thought Broken Hearted Woman would become a hit. At that time, I just recorded this song and went home after I was done with it, she said.
Afterwards, she found herself moving to Russia with her family. Once there, she adjusted herself to new surrounding and gave first priority to her study. It took me awhile to get used to the new home. I had to forget singing for quite awhile. I still sang with my friends but recording a song was nowhere near possible. Until now.
Right after graduation, Jessica Jay was back in business doing what she loves and is very good at: singing. I was so glad to be able to sing again, to be able to do what I love again after all these 6 years. And I dont think that the absence should bring about any problem.
Broken Hearted Woman brought an interest in me. It was a shame I didnt have chance to get to know anyone then. But looking on a positive side, I dont think anyone would love to see a little girl sing Broken Hearted Woman. However, if you want to know me better, you already have.
Jessica Jay is back this year with her full length album Chilly Cha Cha which will take you back to the original Cha Cha Cha music as well the dance beat of 90s.
This is definitely going to make you swcat, just like Broken Hearted Woman did before.
The more you listen to Chilly Cha Cha, You Dont Have To Say Love Me, Kiss Me Another, the more you will become certain she was born to sing and make you dance. Who knows Chilly Cha Cha might be covered as much as Broken Hearted Woman was.
April 28, 2009. I’ve heard the song Always before (From Broken-Hearted Woman album), but I have never really HEARD it. It’s great.
April 29, 2009. I will make this offer. If Jessica Jay/Dora Carofiglio is reading this, I would love to have the opportunity to do an interview. Contact me at idiotprogrammer AT fastmailbox.net .
August 11, 2009. You know, it occurs to me that Dora Carofiglio must have discovered this web page by now and found it very funny.
August 20, 2009. It looks like there is a facebook group for Jessica Jay.
November 10, 2009. Someone claiming to be Jessica Jay commented on this post. I sent her an email and will provide updates.
December 15, 2009. Sorry I forgot to update. I emailed the person claiming to be Jessica Jay. She was not “the Jessica Jay” but a woman who has been involved with Jessica Jay in the past. (I believe her story overall). She was involved in the Jessica Jay European tours, but now works in Italian media. Based on what she wrote, I don’t think she was the person whose voice is associated with Jessica Jay songs. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that this woman was the lead singer…if only because the music concept is supposed to deemphasize the role of a single individual and allow for different individuals to take the place of the lead singer if necessary. I think this woman’s correspondence did confirm this fact. In the meantime, I am still not providing a “picture” of Jessica Jay — but if anyone knows of a good photo of Dora Carofiglio, I will use that one.
Jan 16, 2010. Wow, major update! On the facebook group I see this message from someone who worked at SAIFAM named Sascha Alexander Busch:
Jessica Jay featured different singers… The first album was Dora, the Second “Chilly Cha Cha” album featured an unknown Italian singer (often used by SAIFAM) and a British singer, who was also a background vocalist for “The Spice Girls” and often used by SAIFAM, as well. On her last album, they featured the unknown Spanish singer (unreleased songs from the 1998-1999) and the well-known Italian singer Melody Castellari (“Dance Little Lady Dance”, “Broken Hearted Woman 2008″ and so on)… That’s the BIG secret… I worked for SAIFAM, so I know for sure
Now for videos. Here is an early Valerie Dore song The Night (1984!) which are verysoft, moody and low-key. Be kind! It was the 80s! :
Other Valerie Dore songs on youtube: Get Closer, Guinevere, On the Run. Wait, are you ready for this? A fan site lists about 30 different songs on youtube which Dora performed with Novocento and other bands! See Leaving Now for example. The Dora fan site also lists other names that Dora has been singing under.
First, here is Dora’s photo gallery, with more galleries than you know what to do with!
Additional Thoughts. I am guessing that performers with Saifam/Jessica Jay must agree never to talk about their Jessica Jay singing. Who knows what musicians must think of these arrangments? (Hopefully the money was good). I just think those performers should know that even corporate rock bands like Jessica Jay still manage to touch people from all over the world.
June 26, 2014: News Flash! After checking google and wikipedia, I see that the Jessica Jay song “Casablanca” is actually a cover version of a Bertie Higgins song (here). Bertie Higgins wrote and performed slow ballads in the 1980s, and Casablanca came from his first album Just Another Day in Paradise. This actually makes sense because I thought the lyrics were too smart to be written by a non-native speaker. The original song’s style is more of a slow dream ballad with greater emphasis on synthesizer and lush arrangements (that sort of fade into the sunset at the end). Jessica Jay’s faster and more rhythmic version of the same song definitely has a Euro disco feel while retaining the original tropical feel of the original song. I have always loved that pulsating (but understated) interlude with the synthesizer in the middle of the Jessica Jay version.
June 10, 2015 update . Lately I have been listening to all the Novecento recordings and have figured a few things out. Dora Nicolosi (who used to be Carofiglio) sang with Novecento, but she also did some extra projects, perhaps for the fun of it, perhaps to pay the bills. She participated in Valerie Dore as lead singer during the early days of Ital0-Disco, but it seemed ludicrous not to get the credit, but to instead give it to Monica Stucchi who was the face (but not the voice) of the band. Contrast that with Novecento which Dora participated in fully with 3 members of the Nicolosi family — and indeed, she married one of them. Jessica Jay was another project she dabbled in when she wasn’t doing Novecento stuff. Novecento seemed more tranquil and jazzy, while Jessica Jay was just straight pop. I suspect that in the 80s and 90s, it was pretty common in Italy to have band concepts where singers came and went and people performed and toured who may have been different than the people who originally sang the song. (This pitchfork article about 80s Italo-disco by Andy Beta provides the historical context). The advantage to this arrangement is that the brand was a familiar launching point for new blood; the disadvantage was that you lose your identity and perhaps were too controlled by the label. I’ve seen examples of this in the US and England. (The Pussy Cat dolls and the Sugarbabes come to mind). Lately it seems that Nicolosi Productions probably keeps Dora and family busy enough.
By the way, I have been listening to all the Novecento albums. I’ve been enjoying them, especially Dreamland, Necessary and Secret. The 80s stuff is typical Italo-disco, while the more recent stuff is slower, jazzier, more serene. How nice to see a group evolving over time.