Earlier in the week I was having a conversation with a colleague about modern day communication. We both are close in age, have had similar experiences and have also seen great technological changes over the same twenty year period. I got my start in the print media industry twenty years ago. The world has changed dramatically since 1994. Hard copies of newspapers and magazines have almost completely given way to digital media formats that can be viewed on computers and now mobile components. In fact, even though much of my accomplishments came within print media, all of you reading this post are doing so via computer, tablet or mobile telephone. Because of the scientific developments there are many, many more avenues available for communication. That means that news that traveled fast twenty years ago, travels hundreds times faster today. Good news and bad, gets around the world and is discussed almost as soon as it happens. As my colleague and I continued our conversation he wanted to know how I went about choosing whom to feature each week. I explained that there are several artists and stories from which I could decide, because there are literally hundreds of topics surrounding music industry professionals. However, some news just stands out above the rest! For example, early last month I received what I felt was great news; the return of singer/songwriter Jazmine Sullivan.
I realize some of you reading may not be familiar with Jazmine Sullivan’s music, and may not understand what I mean when I say she has returned. From where? Well, in order for everyone to grasp why this is very good news, we should discuss the Philadelphia native’s career from the years 2004 through 2011.
First of all Jazmine comes from a musical family as her mother Pam is a former background singer for Philadelphia International Records. Like so many R & B performers Jazmine Sullivan got her start singing in the church, and even received a recording contract offer at age eleven by a gospel label. She got an opportunity to successfully perform on Its Showtime at the Apollo and also sang with Stevie Wonder at his grandson’s birthday party at age thirteen. Jazmine’s signed her first recording contract with Jive Records at sixteen years old. Although her debut album Break My Little Heart was shelved and she was dropped by Jive Records, Sullivan’s songwriting career would take off with great success. Jazmine went on to pen songs for Jennifer Hudson, Tamia, Monica and Fantasia Barrino.
Sullivan’s debut album Fearless was released on September 23, 2008 on J Records. Sullivan wrote every song on the album, and she served as the album’s executive producer alongside Missy Elliott, Salaam Remi and Peter Edge. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and debuted at number six on the Billboard 200. The album also received much critical acclaim as Jazmine Sullivan went to the 2009 Grammy Awards with six nominations (one of the nominations was for “I’m His Only Woman” performed by Jennifer Hudson & Fantasia – Jazmine Sullivan songwriter). Jazmine released her second studio album and one of my personal favorites Love Me Back November 30, 2010. Sullivan again hit the Billboard charts successfully and it led to the Billboard honor of Rising Star of 2010.
Toward the end of 2010 it seemed that Jazmine Sullivan was well on her way to an illustrious musical career both as a singer and songwriter. The twenty-three year old artist was certain to become a mainstay at award shows with major demand for her music. Then January 2, 2011 came the messages to her fans via twitter, “i’m making an official announcement that i am taking a break from music,” she tweeted. “i’m trying to figure out who i am… w/out a mike, paper or pen. i promised myself when it wasn’t fun anymore i wouldn’t do it. and here i am. “i love u all and appreciate u soooooo much,” Sullivan shared. “u have no idea how much u’ve inspired me and fed my ego. but the truth is that i have to believe in me whether you all do or not. and thats what i’m lookin for. that belief in myself. me. I. i love us. thanks for being here for me and riding with me on this journey. let us continue.”
The announcement came as quite a shock to her growing fan base, but somehow I could understand. Jazmine Sullivan proved to be a super talented musician. As I have explained to others, most of us – even other musicians – have no idea what it’s like to be as gifted as artists like Jazmine Sullivan. It seems that all such artists become disillusioned with the business side of the industry at some point. It just might have happened with Jazmine Sullivan a little earlier than some of the others. Some have also suggested maybe she needed time away because of personal issues. Nevertheless, the twenty-seven year old artist is back and hopefully ready to create with more control over her career and music. As Sullivan said during her London performance last month, “It’s been a while.” Indeed it has.