Canada is blessed with so many amazing people and talents of all kinds, including one woman who has inspired so many; a woman who learned that ‘weakness’ was not an excuse when it came to enduring painful situations. A woman who knows her purpose on this Earth and is living it fully every day of her life. And that woman is the one, the only, miss Jully Black.
Jully has not only brought music into our lives, she has brought her soul, and shares it with us to ‘give’ what she was brought here to give, “Motivation and Inspiration”. With songs like, “Between Me & U”, “Rally’n”, “I Travelled” (which always brings me to tears no matter how many times I hear it), “This is Me”, “Sweat of Your Brow” to her version of Etta James’ “Seven Day Fool”, her list of hits is long and powerful and continuously growing! She has written incredible ballads, creative hooks and lyrics for artists such as Nas, Kardinal Offishall and Destiny’s Child just to name a few. She will reach into your heart and make you FEEL exactly what you are meant to feel from each one of her creations. Her heart is as strong as her Faith, and Family, Friends and Fans mean the absolute world to her. She has made us laugh, whether it be her joking on one of her many TV appearances, like the time she ‘licked’ Russell Peters face at the ending of the 2008 Juno Awards broadcast. In all my years of being in entertainment, interviewing and writing, I can honestly say I’ve never cried, laughed and laughed so hard that I cried again…all in one interview!
Jully Black! Recently named one of the 25 Greatest Canadian Singers ever by CBC.ca (not like we needed them to tell us), how do you feel overall at this point in your life; spiritually, mentally and all around?
To say I was humbled and taken aback about being named one of Canada’s greatest singers of all time is an understatement, especially because I know that my gift of song was given to me by God to serve others. I’m told my music has helped people get through their pain, their losses, celebrate life, inspire change and more.
Overall, at this point in my life spiritually I am so thirsty to know God in ways I haven’t before.
I’ve been through a lot as a child and made decisions as a teen that made me hold my head down for many, many years but through Gods grace, an incredibly loving mother and super supportive friends, I have used my experiences to help others heal. We think forgiving others is a challenge, but I found that forgiving myself was even harder. But now I LOVE me some Jully! Mentally I am more aware of my triggers so by using the power of positive thinking my life has begun to change for the better. The music business is one that you have to be of sound mind, a loving spirit and have the patience of men who ride donkeys to stick with it. But I’m here to stay no matter the trial or tribulation!
Going back to that church stage at such a young age, did you know then that music was going to play such a powerful role in your life?
At age 6, I knew after my first time singing in church that I was born to sing. It felt so good and I realized how much joy my little voice brought to people, and what better way to get attention being the baby of 9 children?
Being the youngest of 9 children and being raised by such a powerful woman, I can already feel the closeness your family must have. How did you deal with and overcome the loss of your sister, who brought you to the light of music? Do you feel her with you every step of the way?
As a child my mother was the centre piece, the nucleus, the pillar that kept us all together. She still is. By the time my Sister Sharon died, she already buried my sister Colleen who was 11 years old. She died back home in Jamaica and my twin brother who only lived for about a half an hour. His untimely death was such a shock that my parents never did name him…All and all my mother showed us how to accept God’s plans for your life by never showing weakness. She kept loving harder and encouraging us to realize our dreams.
Losing Sharon was really hard on me. She was like a mother figure to me and the one I wanted to be like. She was an incredible singer, incomparable visual artist, a high honor student, a triathlete and the BEST sister one could ask for. I would hear her sing while she painted and would just drink her voice in. What’s crazy is she didn’t aspire to be a singer, it was all about her art! Her death was sudden and it took about 16 years for me to go visit her grave site. I keep her with me and have had amazing dreams about her as an angel and that keeps me going. It has been about a year or so since she visited so hopefully she will come back soon.
Inspired by Etta James and Tina Turner, you have combined these sounds into your own distinct, rhythmic & eclectic blend of music. When would you say it was that you truly found “your signature sound”?
I used to say “If Etta and Tina had a baby it would be ‘Jully Black!'” When did I find my signature sound??? I’d say over the past 4 years my signature sound was birthed. It pretty much came through adversity because I was trying so hard to write the right records and sing the right songs to appease the powers that I suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage and almost lost my voice forever! It took me being in rehab for three months where I was only allowed to speak for 15 minutes per hour and be on a strict diet to nurse it back to health. After such a devastating time I surrendered it all to God and started writing what felt good to me and singing in the tone and range that came from my heart and beamed right into the listeners soul. Now I’m a force. I realized recently that I am special and that this music is my ministry and in order to influence change I have to become successful enough to be the voice of those without influence. I love my sound. It is soulful.
When writing songs for artists and groups such as Nas, Sean Paul, Kardinal Official, and Destiny’s Child, do you envision situations that seem to relate to their style when writing, or do they approach you with their specific visions for the project?
When writing for Hip-Hop Artists, they usually have the concept down so I just add the icing to the cake. For Destiny’s Child and others, I basically created a dress for myself that they can fit in.
You have shared the stage with music legends such as Elton John and Etta James and many other great artists. What does it feel like to be performing next to one of your childhood inspirations, like Etta James?
When performing alongside the greats I am there to do one thing and that is bring Glory to God with my gift. Is it an honor to have Patti Labelle take my hand and tell the entire audience that I am a force HELLZ YAH! But I know that I am just as great and singing with them confirms that I’m paying the right dues to earn my place in rock & roll history.
In 2007, your career evolved even more and you were hosting at eTalk on CTV. What was the transition like for you from sharing your music to being a television personality?
eTalk was basically Jully with cameras rolling. I was blessed to be discovered by an amazing woman named Susanne Boyce who basically trusted that I had a natural gift of journalism. It was so much fun and matured me a lot. It also humbled me because there were times when my ego made me feel like I should be the one ‘being interviewed’ and not ‘doing the interview’ but I wouldn’t change a thing because it made me the woman I am today.
I would love to see you host the JUNOS Jully! If…ehem…WHEN they ask you, will you graciously accept?
I’ve been waiting for the call for about 7 years now and would gladly accept. Up until Drake, there hadn’t been a black host ever! I mean, come on even America has a black president. The Grammy’s have had many black hosts including LL Cool J more than once. I just want to see some diversity. Okay, let me calm down. I know if God has that in my cards I would generate the highest ratings in the history of the telecast cause I would have the entire country rolling on the floor laughing and having a good ole time!
If you could create a signature food dish, what type of food would it be and what would you call it?
Hmmm, I have to think about that. I do have a signature drink called “Juicy Jully Juice.” I took a bar tending course for fun and often bar tend at my Juicy Jams. One day I’ll love to have my own cooler with the right liquor company cause it taste good and creeps up on ya! Funny thing is I don’t drink but had 80 people WASTED in my house including my Christian mother who thought it was juice! Lol!
What are your thoughts on today’s music industry, Jully? Do you feel there are ways that it could improve? If so, how?
Today’s music industry is a reflection of the fast-paced society we live in and how concentrated it is. Nobody wants to take the time to make a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice anymore. Nowadays, it’s all about buying that juice box because it’s quick and convenient. There are lots of improvements that need to be done beginning with making room for quality music to be recorded, marketed and aired on radio. I am focused on staying true to my sound because there’s a shift happening for the better thanks to artist being able to reach their fans directly.
I understand that the Queen “hand selected you” to perform for her! What is that like to hear that the Queen has requested you? Were you nervous performing for her?
This is funny because I was like, “I’m honored to have been chosen but please don’t tell me I have to curtsy.” I mean, I love the Queen and all but all that dipping over and over is just a bit much. I was also told to not look at her directly in the eyes so I’m like “Will I turn to stone? What’s up with all the rules? She is a human being right?” Turns out the Queen was MAD cool! I didn’t curtsy and looked at her right in the face, and she and I had some small talk and called it a day!
From “The Black Book”, “This is Me” to “Revival”, the world has gotten to know such a great part of you from your music! Can you talk to us about your fourth studio album?
It is called Jully Black, MADE IN CANADA. This album is my Miseducation to Lauryn Hill. It is my 21 to Adele, my B-Day to Beyonce, my Thriller to Michael Jackson. It is THE ONE! My Producer YoungPete Alexander hit the mark dead on with this album. From the instrumentation, to the subject matter, to how I am singing, it is an album for all ages and all walks of life.
What is your favorite lyric of all time and why?
“Now love is our pen, we’ll write in the stars and heaven will show it.” – The Moment (Made In Canada)
The lyric above is so personal and transparent that it hits so many people to the core.
What can the world expect next from their Jully Black?
You can expect your Jully Black to continue to be open and honest with my fans, to grow professionally and spiritually and inspire others to love hard, be bold and resilient.
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ABOUT D’ANISE MARIE, Contributor to Addicted and eBOSS Canada
Media Personality, Show Creator, Host, Writer, Singer and Personal Manager for Studio Talent Management, Carolyn’s Intl. Models and Carolyn’s Model and Talent, D’Anise Marie is one of the leading ladies in the entertainment business. She has mentored rising talent across Canada on “what it takes to make it in the business.” Managing her own career with hard work, knowledge and talent have earned D’Anise her way onto the red carpet. She has conducted interviews with some of the biggest and rising names in the entertainment industry. E-mail D’Anise at [email protected]