Jason Derulo has launched the Just For You Foundation to raise funds to promote education, provide shelter to orphans and families and feed the homeless globally. Its inaugural event, the Heart of Haiti Gala, gives Derulo — who is of Haitian descent — an opportunity to support a country close to his own heart.
“I almost feel responsible to make a change,” says Derulo. “Why not let it start with this one event? I was searching for the thing that I was going to do to aid with what is going in Haiti, but throughout the year, just searching for the perfect moment, the perfect foundation, it just ended up [that] time was passing with nothing being done. Finally, I was just like, ‘I need to start today.’”
Taking place on Sept. 6 at a private estate in Beverly Hills, the evening will feature performances from Derulo, Florida Georgia Line‘s Tyler Hubbard and Shaggy. Additionally, the roughly 200 guests in attendance will be treated to cuisine curated by Guy Fieri and may bid on experiences offered by Celine Dion, Zedd, and KC And The Sunshine Band.
Derulo is the first to admit that pulling the event together has been no easy feat. “[It was] a lot of work, let me tell you,” he says. “I called a hundred people in hopes to just get a few. It took a lot of sending out invitations — I was constantly on the phone making those personal calls.”
His passion and love for Haiti, which he began visiting in his youth, is quickly apparent in conversation — he laughs when recalling a little ice cream cart there that would come around daily, with a person ringing a bell and screaming to let others know of its arrival. The music video for his 2018 FIFA World Cup anthem for Coca-Cola, “Colors,” was filmed in Haiti, in part. He also visited the country this year with Sean Penn’s non-profit, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, to witness the group’s work firsthand and take notes for the future.
“I wanted to see what things that they were doing so that I could take some ideas, see where the successes were, see where the struggles were,” he says. “It started being a mentoring situation. You can kind of look at it as a big brother, little brother thing. That sums up how he has taken us under his wing.”
He also added that the relationship now functions like a partnership, in a sense. He has pledged a large donation from the gala to Penn’s organization. With the two groups working together, Derulo’s ultimate goal of raising a lofty $2 million dollars at the event appears attainable. Penn, who is expected to attend Thursday’s event, has been a leader in rebuilding Haiti, whose citizens, between natural disasters and economic and political issues, have been left in chronic poverty with severe infrastructure issues.
“I want to support what he is doing, and they definitely support what I’m doing. It’s all about not having any kind of egos involved and coming together for the greater good.”
In addition to the gala, Derulo continues to stay busy on the music front. Last week, 769 Entertainment announced the upcoming release of four singles to honor the late Michael Jackson. The first, titled “Let’s Shut Up and Dance” (named after an unreleased MJ track), features Derulo, K-pop boy band NCT 127, and Lay Zhang, a Chinese soloist and member of K-pop boy band EXO. As someone who remembers always keeping his white socks on as a kid in order to be able to moonwalk through the kitchen and hallways, Derulo took his time writing the track, wanting to properly honor the King of Pop.
“I wrote a couple of songs, and I finally landed on one that I really liked that sounded modern, but still had some really cool dance flavor. At the end of the day, it’s the dance and the performance aspect that I wanted to showcase,” he says. “That’s kind of a lost art.”
The Warner Bros. artist also recently teamed with David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Willy William for his new single, “Goodbye.” Knowing that he wanted a back-and-forth dialogue with a female, Derulo had his sights set on Minaj from the start. “She had to be able to sing the chorus, but also get down and dirty on the verses. There was only one girl that I could think of that would be able to murder that,” he says.
For more information about the Just For You Foundation and the Heart of Haiti Gala, visit www.justforyoufoundation.org.