ARTIST PROFILE

Jazmine Sullivan

Name: Jazmine Marie Sullivan

Birthday: April 9th 1987

Fav Dish: Beef Sliders

Jazmine Marie Sullivan is an American singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut single “Need U Bad”, produced by Missy Elliott, reached #1 on Billboards Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, while her second single, “Bust Your Windows”, produced by Salaam Remi, peaked at #4. Elements of R&B, reggae, dub, pop, jazz, neo soul and doo-wop can be heard in her work. Sullivan cites singers Brandy, Changing Faces, Kim Burrell, Lauryn Hill, and Dorinda Clark-Cole as her main influences and inspirations.

Jazmine Sullivan was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother Pam is a former backup singer for Philadelphia International Records. When she was five years old, her father landed a position as a curator for the city’s Historic Strawberry Mansion in the Strawberry Mansion section, and her family moved into the historical landmark. She is a 2005 graduate of the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts where she was a vocal music major.

Sullivan began singing as a contralto in the children’s choir, and later in the adult choir. Sullivan’s exposure to secular music was initially limited: “I was doing solos in church and someone wanted me to sign to a gospel label when I was eleven but I wasn’t ready to do that,” she recalls. “Then when McDonald’s had a competition for kids in major cities, I got a chance to perform ‘Accept What God Allows’ on It’s Showtime at the Apollo and the audience responded really well”. At thirteen, she sang with Stevie Wonder at his grandson’s birthday.

At fifteen, Sullivan signed to Jive records. She recorded an album, which was never released, and she was eventually dropped from the label. She maintained a working relationship with Missy Elliott, who produced a number of the tracks for her debut project, including the buzz single “Backstabbers”—produced by Timbaland and written by Elliott. While unsigned, Sullivan took songwriting into her own hands, and would later re-team with Elliott for her first two studio albums after being signed to J Records in 2007.

Sullivan’s first recorded appearance was a guest appearance on Kindred the Family Soul’s song “I Am”, as well as background vocals on the song “Party’s Over”, and the title track to their 2003 debut Surrender to Love. Before releasing her debut album, a song that Sullivan had written and recorded with producers Cool & Dre titled “Say I” was given to Dre’s then-girlfriend Christina Milian for her third album, So Amazin’. The song became the lead single, peaking at #13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as well as #21 on the Hot 100. After achieving her own success (she co-wrote her entire debut), Sullivan went on to pen songs for Jennifer Hudson, Tamia, Monica, and Fantasia Barrino. She recorded and produced an album titled Break My Little Heart in 2004 but she was dropped and it remains unreleased.

Sullivan first appeared on the mainstream music scene with her debut single “Need U Bad”, released in May 2008. The song, which featured additional vocals by Missy Elliott and Sandy “Pepa” Denton of Salt-n-Pepa fame, went to #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and peaked at #37 on the Hot 100.

Sullivan’s debut album Fearless was released on September 23, 2008. She wrote every song and served as the album’s executive producer alongside Missy Elliott, Salaam Remi and Peter Edge. The album received production from Elliott, Remi, Stargate, Carvin & Ivan, Jack Splash, and Fisticuffs. Fearless debuted at #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and at #6 on the Billboard 200.

Sullivan followed her successful debut single with the release of the second single from Fearless, “Bust Your Windows”, which reached #4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and #31 on the Hot 100, becoming her most successful single on that chart to date. “Bust Your Windows” appeared on the debut episode of the Fox hit television show Glee and was also nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song. In 2014, Stevie Wonder claimed he considered “Bust Your Windows” a classic song.

“Lions, Tigers & Bears” was released as the album’s third single in December 2008. It scored her third consecutive top ten on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, reaching #10, and garnered some mainstream success by reaching #74 on the Hot 100.

Sullivan later pursued success in the UK when she released “Dream Big” as her first official UK single in February 2009, though it failed to chart there. The song was later released as the fourth US single from the album in April 2009, but also failed to chart there. The album’s fifth and final single, “In Love with Another Man”, was released in August 2009 and was only moderately successful by reaching #37 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. A sixth single, “Switch!”, was set to be released in November 2009, though its release was later cancelled. The album received Gold certification by the RIAA, and has sold more than 510,000 copies in the United States so far.

Sullivan was featured on a song entitled “Smoking Gun” with Jadakiss on his 2009 album The Last Kiss. She was also a supporting act for R&B singer Maxwell on his highly successful 2008 U.S. tour and was the opening act for Ne-Yo’s 2009 Year of the Gentleman Tour. She additionally appeared on Ace Hood’s second album, Ruthless, on the song “Champion”. She went on to headline a few dates with Ryan Leslie, before participating in the Essence Music Festival in June 2009. That same year, Sullivan appeared in commercials for Cotton Incorporated. Additionally, Sullivan made a guest appearance on Snoop Dogg’s tenth studio album Malice n Wonderland on the song “Different Languages”.

Sullivan began working on her second album, Love Me Back, in 2009. Producers contributing to the album included Missy Elliott, Lamb, Ne-Yo, Anthony Bell, Los da Mystro, Ryan Leslie, and Salaam Remi, who was also a major contributor to Fearless. Songs recorded for the album include “Love You Long Time”, “Don’t Make Me Wait” (a tribute to Prince), “Redemption”, “Excuse Me”, “Good Enough”, and the reported sequel to “Bust Your Windows” titled “You Get On My Nerves”, which was co-written by Ne-Yo.

The album was completed in June 2010 and released on November 30, 2010. The album’s lead single, “Holding You Down (Goin’ in Circles)”, was released on July 10, 2010. The song reached #3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

The album’s second single, “10 Seconds”, was released to radio in late September, and peaked at #31 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song, originally set to be released on October 25, was ultimately released on November 22. The music video for the single was released on November 12.

In early December 2010, Billboard honoured Sullivan as the ‘Rising Star’ for 2010.

In January 2011, Sullivan announced via Twitter that she was indefinitely leaving the music industry saying, “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”.

In 2014, she returned to music with the announcement of her new album, Reality Show. In an interview with Billboard, Sullivan described her return as inevitable, saying she “…can’t escape [her] calling”. She based Reality Show on watching reality shows during her hiatus which inspired the namesake. The album consists of 14 songs, and features production from Key Wane and Salaam Remi. The first official single is called “Dumb”, featuring Meek Mill, and was released on May 12, 2014, to favorable reviews.

On January 13, 2015, Jazmine Sullivan released Reality Show to widespread critical acclaim, with the album reaching #1 on the Billboard R&B Albums and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Reality Show sold 30,000 copies in its first week. Slant Magazine commented, “Despite what the rasp in her voice might suggest, Sullivan clearly sees herself as something other than R&B’s next great queen of pain. Her central themes—love and self-image—don’t stray far from genre convention, but her musical versatility and keenly observed characters make her one of the most captivating artists in R&B today.” The album has recently earned Sullivan three Grammy Award nominations for Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album

In 2016, Sullivan was featured in the visual album “Endless” by Frank Ocean, with whom she had been eager to collaborate. Sullivan lent her vocals to four songs from the album: “Alabama”, “Wither”, “Hublots”, and “Rushes”.

In 2017, Sullivan was the lead writer for these four songs on Mary J. Blige’s album Strength of a Woman, and sang backup vocals on the first three of them: “Thick of It”, “Set Me Free”, “Glow Up”, and “Thank You.”

 

Close