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We caught up with the rising R&B star to discuss her roots, new music, and working with other artists:
1. Of all the artists you’ve toured and performed with, who has been your favorite?
I’ve had the pleasure of performing with many extremely talented artists, so it’s difficult to mention just one. Goapele is such a beautiful person and has a wonderful spirit; Eric Benét is an amazingly gifted vocalist and songwriter; Johnny Gill is such a captivating performer. I could go on and on about countless others. I’ve been very blessed.
2. Did your college education in music help you launch your career as a solo artist?
Absolutely! I first studied Classical Vocal Performance, which really attributed to the vocal endurance and discipline I’ve grown to have. In more recent years, I studied Music Production and that really allowed me to capture my creativity on a higher level. In fact I wrote, arranged and engineered each of the songs featured on my forthcoming album.
3. What inspired your first single “Sometimes”?
“Sometimes” was written during a time when one of my producers and I were both transitioning from being in relationships to being single. We were in the studio just vibing, and he’d come up with a chord progression that he really liked. So as he played the guitar, I started singing lyrics I’d come up with a few days prior and they fit together perfectly. In total, we spent about 10 minutes working through the song before it was ready to be recorded. It was just one of those beautifully captured moments that was “meant to be”, I’d say.
4. What do you hope to accomplish with your singing career?
I’ve loved making music since I first began. I started playing the saxophone and piano at a young age, and was always dancing and singing around the house and with family and friends. I’ve written many songs for both myself and others, and have toured with many more playing a supporting role in their artistry. As I embark upon my solo career now, my intention is to take the collection of my personal and professional experiences and create music that people relate to, enjoy, and are inspired by.
5. Will there be a certain theme to your upcoming “Hearts & Daggers” release?
“Hearts & Daggers” is about the simple, complicated, beautiful, ugly and in-betweens of love. There are many playful, painful and prideful moments captured in the album that anyone who’s ever truly experienced love can relate to.
6. Are you close to finishing up the album and is there a song you’re most excited for people to hear?
The album has been complete for a while now, and I’m excited to share it in its entirety. You won’t find any “fillers” on this one. Each song has its unique way of showcasing my musicianship/songwriting abilities and versatility, and embraces many of the ever-evolving dynamics of music culture.
7. Has standing out been a challenge in a music market that is currently saturated with R&B artists?
I think, perhaps, it could be difficult for anyone to stand out in an over-saturated market as “just another addition” to the matrix. I’ve never created with the intent to fit a mold. Instead, I’ve come to understand the importance of staying informed of changes and trends because that heightened sense of awareness leads to trendsetting and monetization of products. That doesn’t equate to “selling out” or being a follower. Instead, its an empowering state of mind that allows an artist to create while staying ahead of the curve. Those people never struggle to stand out.
8. What artist do you look up to the most?
Of all of the artists I’ve met and/or worked with in some capacity, I’d say that both Teddy Riley and Johnny Gill have offered some of the most incredible advice and feedback. They’ve taken my calls, listened to my music, shared a few laughs and always encouraged me to stay true to myself. Those moments will always remain priceless.
9. Did growing up in Detroit inspire your craft as an artist?
As much as I love Detroit, I actually grew up in Sacramento, CA. I visit my family in Detroit many times each year these days, but my parents and I moved to Sacramento when I was a young girl. It’s always been inspiring to know that my grandparents, aunts, and uncles grew up with some of Motown’s biggest artists and sang with many of them as well. But when I think of the city that pushed, stretched and shaped me as a musician, it’s Sacramento; it’s my high school band teacher Mr. Mazzaferro and an extremely talented group of peers; the local radio stations and DJs; the young children and adults who studied voice under my instruction. That’s what I call my inspiration, and I am both honored and grateful.
10. Where do you see your career In the next 5 years?
Five years from now, I see a few more albums under my belt and music that’s making a global impact; organizations established to feed and educate those in need; a non-profit music program for underprivileged children; my own radio program and much more. I see lights, camera, action, fireworks…and lots of coffee too!
Check out Jessica’s latest Single “Want You” Below: