Artist Spotlight: Jazmine Sullivan
If you’re a fan of R&B music, you have likely listened to or even belted out the lyrics to the iconic breakup ballad “Bust Your Windows” by powerhouse vocalist Jazmine Sullivan. Her second single off her debut album, Fearless, brought her recognition back in 2008 and kickstarted the career of one of the most authentic voices in R&B music in the past decade.
Now, 14 years and 15 Grammy nominations later, Jazmine finally picked up two of the coveted trophies for her work on her most recent album, Heaux Tales, last week at the 64th Grammy Awards. In the past year, she has also added a BET Award, two Soul Train Awards, and two NAACP Image Awards to her collection. Her newest hits, such as “Pick Up Your Feelings” and “Girl Like Me” have gone viral on Tik Tok, and she just concluded her nationwide tour supporting Heaux Tales.
It has been quite the journey for the 35-year-old singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sullivan gained musical experience at a young age in children’s choirs and local singing competitions. At age 15, she signed her first record deal with Jive Records, though she never released an album with the label and was eventually dropped.
Finding a new home at J Records (now RCA Records), Sullivan released her debut, Fearless, to widespread acclaim in 2008, followed by her second album, Love Me Back, in 2010. Despite finding commercial and critical success, she announced a hiatus from the music industry via her Twitter page in 2011, stating, “I promised myself when it wasn’t fun anymore I wouldn’t do it. And, here I am. I’m not saying I won’t ever sing again in my life because I don’t believe that. But in this moment… right now… got some things to figure out.”
But a voice as distinctly vulnerable and powerful as hers was not to be gone for long. In 2015, Jazmine Sullivan returned to the music scene with her third album, Reality Show, which debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s R&B Albums list and gained three Grammy nominations.
Though another hiatus would follow before her next release, 2021’s Heaux Tales has proven to be well worth the wait. The conceptual record is unique in that it includes recordings of personal stories told by Sullivan’s girlfriends about their varying experiences with love and relationships – an album created for and by Black women.
“The tales are the meat of the project,” Sullivan explained to RCA Records. “Even if you can’t connect with the songs, you can connect with the words someone is telling you about their life and the conversations and stories we have as women.”