exclusive-jazmine-sullivans-reality-show-fears-singer-talks-about-third-album-during-intimate-listening-session

After taking a break from music in 2011, Jazmine Sullivan returned to recording in 2014 and released her now Grammy-nominated (Best R&B Album) album, Reality Show in January 2015. Sullivan is also nominated for two more Grammys– Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for her single “Let It Burn”. In 2015, Grown Folks Music spoke with Jazmine Sullivan about Reality Show. Read Below.

GFM: About your new album, Reality Show you said in an interview, “Reality Show for me is a perfect time capsule of modern society and even shows how I’ve been affected by this culture,” “From my language, to the choice of beats, for the most part it’s very ‘now.’ I’ll probably look back on it and say ‘WTF was I thinking?’ Hopefully we all do. Hopefully from here, we’ll grow into greater human beings and years later can look back at Reality Show as the soundtrack to the way we were.”

Is Reality Show your What’s Going On album? Talk about the things you address on this album that are specific to today’s culture and how it has affected you.

JS: The album is entitled Reality Show and it’s entitled that because I watch a lot of reality TV ’cause that’s pretty much all that’s offered on TV now. I remember a time when there wasn’t any reality tv and now that’s all there is. I watch all of them and I’m affected by it. “Mascara” was one of the songs that was inspired by just being on Instagram– on social media– seeing the beautiful video girls and looking at their lives. Once I started looking at everybody’s pages I started seeing that it was very similar. Carbon copy cutouts of lifestyle down to the poses to the type of clothes they wear. Everything was kinda pretty much the same and I thought that’s something that I would want to talk about and want to document. When I was writing the song, I really wasn’t trying to give my view on that situation. I really consider myself just like a reporter. I want people to listen to the song, listen to the lyrics and then come up with their own thoughts about it– their own views. I love that people are having conversations about the matter. And different people are coming up with different things, but I love that about it.

GFM: I know you did a few web episodes in conjunction with the release of the album, but would you ever participate in a reality show?

JS: Now that I don’t know (laughs). I love to watch it. I love to watch the drama for the most part, but I don’t know if I would wanna put my entire life out there. I’m really private. I feel like I share a lot, because I do write all of the songs on all my albums. I share a lot about my own personal life. For the camera… (following me) everywhere? I don’t know about that (laughs). I’m not sure.

GFM: Now we see a lot of artists who are on reality TV because they feel it is a necessary part of building his or her brand. Do you sometimes feel like you have to do additional things for your brand and that sometimes people are more concerned with your personal life or your image as opposed to just your talent?

JS: I think today especially, people want to know so much about the artist. This is like an information era, so people want to have a lot of information about people. I’m not going to say I haven’t thought about the fact that artists can get on reality TV and they are exposed to so many more people and it does help them sell records and stuff like that, so I’ve thought about it. But, I feel like what’s for me is for me and I feel like at the end of the day the music will kind of speak for itself. I choose not to do anything that I feel could compromise me. I don’t know… I just choose not to do certain things.

GFM: You said you watch a lot of reality TV. What’s your favorite reality TV show?

JS: Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta

GFM: About the album, I noticed that Ms. Gladys Knight tweeted out to her fans about your album. She said they wouldn’t be disappointed. I have a two-fold question about that. How does it make you feel that a legend is tweeting about your album and how does it make you feel that she obviously gets it? She gets where you’re going with the album, even though some of things you address on the album aren’t necessarily things her generation had to deal with?

JS: I know! That is so amazing to me. First of all I’m honored when anybody that is a legend like that even acknowledges me. I’m honored by that. But for her to understand where I’m coming from… that makes it even more… that just makes it better. The fact that my writing and my singing is able to cross genres and not only can the younger people understand certain things, but older people can (too), it makes me feel validated in what I’m doing.

GFM: Speaking of artists from other generations, who are some of your musical influences?

JS: Chaka (Khan), Aretha (Franklin), Stevie (Wonder). Last year, a couple of months ago, maybe a month ago, I went to the radio station. I was just going to do work and then I found out as I was going (that) it was his. When I got there they were like, ‘Oh he’s here. He stayed for you.’ That was one of the best moments in my career. I did meet him when I was younger, but to meet him (now that I’m) older and have him talk about “Bust Your Windows” and say it’s a classic song… I never thought I’d hear that “Bust Your Windows” is a classic song from Stevie Wonder. He’s made so many classic songs that I listen to. I’m a fan of music period, but definitely that old, good music.

GFM: How does it feel to carry the mantle and represent Philly Soul? It has such a great legacy.

JS: I happy that I can. I’m happy that I make great music. I definitely was influenced from being in Philly and hearing it. I used to perform at this place called The Black Lily (music series at the Five Spot in Philadelphia) where Jill Scott came… Music Soulchild… Floetry… Kindred. I got a chance to study all of those great live performers very young so I’m just trying to do my thing, but it feels good though.

GFM: Since you’ve taken the time to talk with us this afternoon, we’d like to know what your definition is of Grown Folks Music.

JS: I think it’s just being honest. Being honest and sharing your heart and that’s what I try to do with my songs. Even in the stories that aren’t necessarily something that I’ve experienced, I just try to tell it in the most honest way.

GFM: What’s the one thing you want– now that you’re back making music and have a new album– what’s the one thing that you hope people get, know or associate with Jazmine Sullivan?

JS: I think that I’m just a true, genuine artist. I care about the music. I care about the voice. I care about the lyrics. I’m just trying to make good music. It’s not about anything else. It’s not about, for me, what I look like or any of the star type stuff. It’s just simply about the music. If they happen to get my music, I would really want them to listen to the lyrics. Just listen to the music. It’s just about the music.

Listen to “Let It Burn”

Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.