Tuesday, July 15, 2008
BGG Chats with R&B Singer Jazmine Sullivan!
Just when you were afraid that great soul singing was a thing of the past, R&B newcomer, Jazmine Sullivan, is here to put all of your fears to rest. This 21-year-old Philadelphia native is heating up the airwaves with her soulful, reggae-infused hit single, "Need U Bad," from her forthcoming debut disc, Fearless. Signed to J Records, Jazmine's poignant, strong and sultry voice is sure to get noticed. With production by Missy Elliott, Salaam Remi, Jack Splash, Tricky, Wyclef, Stargate and more, Fearless, will definitely be the album that everyone is talking about it.
I recently had a chance to interview the budding superstar diva.
Check out our Q&A:
BGG: When did you know that you wanted to become a professional singer? Did you sing in church while growing up?
JS: Yes, I started when I was about 5 or 6. My actual earliest memory of singing was in my mom’s plays at church. She used to throw plays at church. But I decided to sing R&B professionally at the age of 12. My parents were very supportive even though my mother was really strict; we didn’t listen to a lot of R&B.
BGG: Did you grow up in a large family?
JS: I guess it’s considered large, but it doesn’t seem that large to me. They’re not a lot of singers either. My mom sang when she was younger and her sister did a bit too, but now I’m pretty much the only one who sings. They supported me with the decision to sing so my mom got me hooked up with an organization called, The Black Lily, in Philadelphia, which was started by the Jazzy Phat Nasties. It was a place for female singers to get their chance to shine. So I sang there like every other Tuesday so I would go there, sing at night and then get up early the next morning and go to school. It was crazy! (laughing)
BGG: I’m sure it was worth it since you were doing what you loved.
JS: Yeah, it was! I got a chance to watch and learn from performers like Floetry, Kindred…I got a chance to soak up all of the things that they do that make them great. I got signed when I was 16 to Jive Records…(long pause) It didn’t work out! (laughing) I think the main reason was because I was so young and I didn’t really know who I was as an artist and the vision they had for me wasn’t what I wanted. In the end, it ended up being a blessing in itself because it gave me time to grow and I got better at my writing, which eventually led me to getting signed to J (Records)!
BGG: What do you think about the constant comparisons between your voice and Lauryn Hill’s? I know you’ve heard that so many times!
JS: Yes, I’ve heard it a million times! I never thought before this song came out that I’d be compared to Lauryn because I didn’t think that we sounded anything alike. But it’s not a bad thing, Lauryn’s a great artist, I love her, I listen to her! I listened to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill about a million times so it’s safe to say that she’s influenced me; but I think because of the reggae vibe of the first single, it’s easy to make that comparison, but once people hear the rest of the album, they’ll be like, “She’s nothing like Lauryn Hill.” I mean it’s cool; she’s a great artist.
BGG: What inspired the hit, “Need U Bad?”
JS: It was a feeling thing. I was in the studio working with Missy (Elliott) and she presented the track and it just felt good. Lyrically the song speaks to me. The sound made me want to write something to it. The track made me want to sing “need u bad.” Once we did it and actually while we were doing it, we realized that it was special.
BGG: What was it like shooting your first music video? Was it what you expected?
JS: Yeah, it was really everything that I expected. Long hours, tiring, work, but it was fun. I had a wonderful director, Jonathan Mannion, who coached me through it realizing that it was my first video. It was not a lot of pressure on set; it was kind of like, “go ahead, do your thing.” The way he filmed it made it easier. Filming me doing things that I’m used to doing in my element like, which is either recording or performing live so it was cool.
BGG: Where did you shoot it?
JS: We shot it in Brooklyn.
Check out her debut video below:
BGG: How would you describe your forthcoming debut CD?
JS: Different. It’s different from anything else. It’s real and relatable. The subjects that I’m speaking about, people feel and I don’t think a lot of people touch on the subjects that I talk about on my album. Musically, it’s all things that I’ve been influenced by so far so there’s a bit of hip-hop, of course R&B, jazz, reggae, pop, it’s everything in there.
BGG: What are some of the subjects that you talk about?
JS: What subjects don’t I talk about! (laughing) There’s one song that seems to be getting good feedback called, “Bust Your Windows.” I’m not really promoting violence or really busting somebody’s windows out. The main message in that song is about there being consequences to infidelity on anybody’s part. You know, love can really make you do some really crazy things, but know that there are always consequences to your actions.
BGG: I know that you’ve been singing since you were 5-years-old, but do you ever get nervous while performing? If so, what do you do to get over the butterflies?
JS: No, not really. I guess it’s because I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s become second nature. I just get so much love (when I’m on stage) that it just feels good to just release.
BGG: What makes your sound unique from the other R&B female artists on the airwaves today?
JS: I think first my voice, I don’t think there are a lot of people who sound like me. Secondly, I’d say my lyrics. I personally, don’t hear many females speaking about the things I speak about sets me apart. Plus, the fact that I’m a writer too; I’ve written my whole album.
BGG: I know that you’ve penned songs for other artists in the past, such as Christina Milian, are you still writing for other artists? If so, who?
JS: No, I really focus on getting my stuff out. I’ve been on the backburner for so long so I’ve just been focused all on my album. But of course I’d like to write for other artists. I would like to submit a song to Fantasia. I’m actually supposed to.
BGG: If you could choose to do a duet with anyone who would it be? Why?
JS: Andre 3000. He’s creative and I love to be around creative people. Also, Kanye West. I love being around people who aren’t afraid to be different and try different things.
BGG: What’s in the water in Philadelphia? That city has spawned so many great musical acts. Do you think that artists from Philadelphia have a unique sound?
JS: There is a rich history there of soulful music. Gamble & Huff were pioneers of hit records. They were great writers and their songs have stood the test of time and are even relevant today. I think that people who come from Philly, we know that’s what the background is and we want to carry it on.
BGG: What’s next for you? Are you going on a promotional tour?
JS: I’m doing a lot of radio promo right now and I do have a couple of shows lined up. So we’ll be probably going on tour soon.
BGG: What do you want people to know about, Jazmine Sullivan?
JS: Jazmine Sullivan is very thankful for all of the support that she’s been getting. This is what I love to do. I’m just grateful that I have this opportunity. I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long and it’s just overwhelming that I really get to do what I love.
Just keep supporting and I’ll keep making good music.
**While in the process of recording and promoting her album, Jazmine will give fans an inside look into her life by leaving voice mail updates along her journey. Fans can call Jazmine at (215) 789-4753 to hear her updates and leave messages!