21 year old R&B singer-songwriter Jada Michael is a positive force to be reckoned with in the music world, with a message that calls for body positivity, sex positivity and self-positivity. Her music has garnered over 2 million streams and her songs “Beautiful” and “Special” caught the attention of high profile Grammy Award-winning producers and musicians including the late LaShawn “Big Shiz” Daniels [Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez], Novel, Adrian “Drop” Santella [Diddy, Pitbull, Kanye West], and Bart Schoudel [Selena Gomez]. Born in Reno and based in Miami, Michael empowers her audiences by being courageous in showing her true self, striving to represent plus-sized, LGBTQ and black women and hoping her listeners will feel confidence in themselves through her music. She stared singing at the age of 3 and counts artists such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncè, Rhianna and Ella Fitzgerald as influences. Moving to Miami at the age of twelve, she divided her time between choir and musical theater, penning her first songs in junior year of high school. Studying Jazz Voice at The New School in New York City, she carefully crafted a style of her own upon returning home. Her latest single “Freak”, written about an intimate night with her boo, is out today! You can follow Jada Michael and stay up-to-date with all upcoming music, artists and tour news, as well as stream and purchase her music, via the following links. Check out “Freak” below.
Your music has a very body-positive, sex-positive and self-positive message. You have mentioned that moving to Miami at the age of 12 helped you to find the confidence that you project through your music. What can you tell me about that message and and what it was about living in Miami that helped you to develop that positive self-image?
I think it was just kind-of coming together with different aspects of people and seeing images of the kind of person I was. When I came from Reno, there were not a lot of people of color or much plus-size representation, and to find that representation when I came to Miami was honestly life-changing. Aside from the move and the way that impacted me, over time I became more grateful for the body that I have and the health that I have. It was really the gratitude that helped me come into my confidence more than anything.
What has your experience been like in representing plus-sized, LGBTQ and black women in the music industry? What have some of your biggest challenges been and how have you gone about trying to combat the often-times negative perceptions that go along with those representations?
Absolutely! At first, I didn’t know I was going to experience as much push back as I did because every one on my team were people I knew through connections or had personal relationships with. When I started getting the push back, about say having a female love interest in a video or having plus-sized dancers, it was really weird to see how much of a push back there was for it. I’m just proud to say that I made a decision to be assertive and put my most authentic foot forward. There are so many people in the community city who don’t have the opportunity to wear all of their colors on their sleeve the way they want to and I just want to be a voice for showing my real self in my music and videos.
Who would you say some of your biggest influences and role models have been?
Um…Beyoncé is the queen of my life forever! She was one of the first people who made me feel that star struck feeling and really understand the power that an entertainer and songwriter can hold. Lady Gaga has been really important to me, as far as helping me to embrace who I am and using my differences to my advantage, instead of trying to shy away from things that could make people uncomfortable. Lady Gaga has definitely had another huge impact on me.
You studied Jazz voice, opera and musical theater The New School in NYC after high school. How do you feel that helped you to craft your own style as an artist? What was your experience like there?
It was amazing, honestly. The New School was the most unique experience I’ve ever had in my life. As soon as I visited that school, I was so set on it. Just the talent around me was wild and humbling. It was enlightening musically to be able to hear so many different sounds and experiences through people’s music. Being all around and being able to go to different kinds of territories is really important to me. I wanna do Pop and Jazz and R&B, so being at that school just solidified that for me even more.
You started writing songs during your junior year of high school. What was that early process like for you and how do you feel it has evolved over the years, if at all?
It’s definitely evolved. There were a lot of years where I felt that I wasn’t a songwriter, and that every time I wrote something, I didn’t like how it came out. I finally just let down those walls and started writing. It’s really for me just about letting those boundaries down. That’s the way to make the most powerful music. As I evolved as a person, it definitely has shown in my songwriting. I’m excited to record some new music, because spiritually and emotionally, there have been so many things going on, just in the beginning ing of 2020. I excited to be able to share that.
As you’ve written songs and released singles, you have said that your sound and vision has become clearer. What has that process been like for you?
There’s such a huge focus on branding right now, and I feel very connected to a lot of different aspects of my identity. It was a little bit hard for me, because sometimes I feel very connected with R&B and a sultry sound and image, and sometimes I am just in a different mental space. It was a little bit difficult, but really, I think that what I’ve come in tune with is just the fact that you have to embrace all of them…all of the sides of yourself. I’m trying to show different parts of who I am and all of my music and videos. It takes a long time to be able to express yourself properly. Every time I record something, I learn something.
I read that you love to be behind the camera, directing your music videos. What do you enjoy about directing and creating visual representations of your music? What do you find most inspiring about the process?
Well, I actually haven’t had the opportunity to direct a music video yet. I’ve done a small personal project that I didn’t really do too much promotion with. For the most part, I haven’t yet directed but it’s something I very much aspire to do. My experiences so far have definitely led me to now feel able to make that step. It’s just hard to remain completely authentic when you’re not the one who’s directing the image. There’s always miscommunication and I always feel like it could be an interesting experience to see what I bring to the table, and what better way to discover things about your brand than to direct as many things as you can.
You have discussed your battle with the role that social media plays in your life. How have you gone about finding that balance between staying present in the moment, but also sharing your music and forming a deeper connection with your fans? How do you keep the toxic aspects of social media at bay?
Right! Honestly girl, I don’t know what to tell you about that (laughs)! Social media is to me such a powerful energy stealer. I don’t know. I want to use it to my benefit, because you really can connect with people. I can totally see the beauty in it, but just being able to review other people’s lives and scrutinize what your own reality is looking like based on how it comes across on a screen…it just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m still working on it. At the end of the day, showing my music to as many people as possible is important to me and representing being an image that people can relate to is important to me. I’m still making sure that I’m moving in the right direction.
You have worked with some high profile producers and musicians, so what do you feel that you’ve learned about yourself as an artist and of the ins and outs of the industry from working with these people? What do love the most about collaborating with others?
Honestly, every person that I meet and get to spend intimate musical time with…you literally completely change who you are as a musician every time. It’s wild. Every person has left such a different impact on me. Some people teach me things about projecting my voice and therefore being confident in myself as a musician, and they bring that to the table. Some people are more focused on the production and helping me connect to the rhythm. Everyone I have worked with has just made such a huge impact on me. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a musician…just being able to absorb the energy from other creators.
Along with being a musician, you also have aspirations to be a model and an activist. How have you gone about trying to achieve those goals? What are some of the organizations you support in your activism?
I definitely want to be able to branch out. Doing the modeling, for me, also connects with being an activist. Just as far as my personal experience and not always being confident within myself and knowing what a huge impact people who relate to me and seeing them on social media and on ads, it impacted me in such a huge way. I’m working with JAG Models and they just have such an amazing outreach and some really groundbreaking photographers and fashion designers and stuff. I’m just trying to get my foot in, to be recognized as someone who can help young girls relate to an image of themselves.
You will be releasing your new single “Freak” on March 13th! What can you tell me about the song and the idea and inspiration behind the video you will be releasing with it?
I love this song, honestly. It’s just fun and good for dancing and plays good in the car. It’s good catch-a-vibe kind-of music. It’s just sexy and I just wanted to go to a personal, laid back place. The song pretty much just wrote itself. There were so many good vibes and good people in the studio while we were recording it. The inspiration is just, you know, being with your person and the mood hits and you’re talking shit basically! It’s a good dance song and in the video, I’m representing the LGBTQ community. I wanted it to be a reflection of what my life is and how I feel when I’m being intimate with my partner. It was really awesome to shoot! The director’s name is Tragik and she’s amazing.
With your goal of just projecting body positivity and being a part of the LGBTQ community, have you had any particularly inspiring interactions with fans who have been helped by your music?
I haven’t had too many in person interactions. The fanbase is definitely still growing and developing. It’s pretty early on. But definitely over social media, just the comments about people saying that they feel good about themselves when they are on my Instagram. They see what I’m doing and the fact that sometimes it takes a little bit of resilience to express yourself freely. Getting those kinds of comments on Instagram always mean a lot.
Aside from the upcoming release of your new single “Freak”, what’s next for you? What are some of your goals for your music going forward?
After this single, I think there may be one more single. I’m really eager to record an album and hopefully direct and shoot a couple of videos for songs off of the album. Some of the music I think I already have done. I have a lot of music sitting. I also want to record new stuff, based off of the experiences I’ve had so far. I’m excited for that for sure!
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today!
I appreciate the opportunity!