Clerel grew up in Douala, Cameroon, grooving to the sounds from his parents’ stereo, ranging from from french variété to church hymns.
Early on, Clerel developed a habit of singing his favorite songs to himself as a way to “listen” to them whenever he desired, an exercise that helped him hone his vocal control.
A family move in his late teens brought him to Ohio, where he studied chemistry and picked up the acoustic guitar from a college roommate. A life-changing visit to famed Stax Records Museum of American Soul around the same time introduced him to the soulful style within which he began finding his own voice.
Relocating to Montreal after his university studies, he started performing in open mics, where his spirited renditions of Motown and R&B classics led to lead vocalist gigs in local working R&B bands, covering the likes of Marvin Gaye or The Staple Singers.