After a few hours of brain storming, I couldn’t find an accurate way to describe Jully Black and her contribution to the entertainment industry. Words cycled through my head. Innovator. Trendsetter. Diva. Icon. Dynamic. Intelligent. The list went on. Her career speaks for itself. She has her own entertainment company. She has worked with the brightest musical stars in the industry. She has performed in the theatre. And now, after four years, she is dropping her much anticipated fourth album. Jully took some time to speak with OCR about upcoming projects.
OCR: You have an impressive resume filled with solo CD’s, collaborations, stage productions, and countless TV appearances. What do you do in your diminutive down time?
JB: I haven’t had much downtime since taking over managing my career plus building the “Jully Black Entertainment Inc.” empire, however, I do find time to cook, exercise and spend time with my friends and family. I am close friends with my entire team so work doesn’t ever feel like work. I’m long overdue for a sweet massage!
OCR: In 2005, you starred in the theatre production, “Da Kink in My Hair.” How does acting on stage differ from performing music on stage? Which feels more natural?
JB: Acting on stage during Da Kink was like no other acting I’ve experienced. I realized early that I was on assignment by God to tell the stories of my ancestors with honesty, class, and grace for all 106 shows and couldn’t ever allow my life to interfere with that mission. Performing my music on stage is all about serving my audience a different but familiar experience every night. I am way more natural and comfortable telling my own story especially since I know that people can relate to them which provides a level of healing.
OCR: You have successfully bridged together a music career with other artistically driven talents. What other domains do you hope to break into? Do you ever have reservations about trying new things?
JB: I love experiencing new things and hope to break into managing artists via my company, releasing albums, producing TV, film and theatre, writing books, hosting TV and radio plus acting in major motion pictures, my own sitcom and variety show. I also hope to have my own fragrance and endorse a few brands that fit who I am and who I am becoming plus so much more! The sky is too low, the Heavens are the limit!
OCR: You opened for Celine Dion for the Jamaica Jazz Festival in Montego Bay. Did you have an opportunity to sing with the fellow Canadian songstress? Did the performances from the various Jamaican Jazz musicians peak your musical curiosity?
JB: I didn’t get to sing with her but feel I will one day. It was a great experience to be a peer but also a student amongst such amazing artists. My musical curiosity was at an all time high!
OCR: Your fifth album, (8)ight, is in the midst if being released. Can you pinpoint a musical growth or departure from your other albums captured in this collection of songs?
JB: Well, I actually recently changed the name of my album to reflect my journey and to profess how honored and proud I am to have had Canada have my back for all these years. So (drum roll please) my new album 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! It is four years in the making and what the world needs right now. My producer Young Pete Alexander hit the mark dead on with this album. I wouldn’t say there has been a musical departure but rather a bit of re-routing back to my soulful roots. I am a Woman with real life experiences that I am ready to sing about. I realize via making this album that at the end of the day, we all just want to be loved and be able to love freely.
From the instrumentation, to the subject matter, to how I am singing, this album will is the one that will bring all ages and all walks of life together.
OCR: In anticipation of your new album, you have released a free mix tape called “Dropping W(8)” online. How do you feel web-based formats help you reach new audiences outside of Canada and keep old fans engaged? What is the significance of the number eight?
JB: Dropping W(8) was a bit of science project for me as I come from the school of tradition where music is not to be free ; however, I realized that with a four year lull in releasing music it was necessary to empower myself by releasing new music via web-based formats. This album was truly me “dropping the weight” of all these songs I recorded plus not have the fans “wait” any longer for music.
The significance of the number is a play on the Infinite symbol. I believe in spite of all I’ve been through my music is here to stay! I am also born on November 8th, and I’m the 8th child born. Plus my producer is born on December 8th.
OCR: When you were younger, did you sit by the radio and feverishly press the record and stop buttons to make your own personal mixtapes?
JB: Oh Lord did I ever! It was all about Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Bob Marley, Tina Turner, New Edition, Boy George, Run DMC and so much more. Music and radio wasn’t as segregated as it is now. My mixtape was basically the audio version of the United Colors of Benniton.
OCR: You’ve performed for the Queen and busted out a high-energy performance at the 2012 Vancouver Olympics. With such high profile gigs and collaborations already under your belt, what other dream performances are you aspiring for?
JB: Oh boy, I have too many major aspirations to type! As for performances, I treat every opportunity as high profile now because you never know who you may be sitting beside. I would love to perform on all the major US, European, and Asian Award shows. Like the Grammys, Oscars, MTV, and Brit awards.
I am also affirming having my song “Tidal Wave” chosen as the theme song for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, 2015 Panam Games, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. I still have yet to release a Platinum and Diamond album so that’s at the top of the list to have my album “perform” well and so much more.
OCR: Songs like “Running” and “I Travelled” have uplifting undertones of self-worth and unity. What is the main message you try to evoke through your music?
JB: Thank you. I intend to have all my songs be able to make people feel hopeful again. I feel so many of us have lost hope and when you lose hope you lose everything. I want the people of the world to be able to rely on my music to make them feel good no matter the subject matter. My responsibility is to echo God’s words and message through my music.
OCR: Ever since I could remember, you stood out as a Canadian diva with jaw dropping style and larger than life glamour! What are some of your favourite accessories and clothing trends? Have you considered starting your own boutique?
JB: Oh wow! I am totally humbled! I owe all my style to my good friend and stylist of 10 years Peter Papapetrou. He calls me his “Chocolate Doll!” I was a tomboy growing up so all the glamour, although it is now naturally me, it took me developing a trusting, loving relationship with him for me to get over my body image issues that only I saw and for me to actually feel and believe I am beautiful inside and out.
My favourite accessories are my little angelic Swarovski studs that I wear almost everyday and my mother’s wedding ring that she gave to me when I graduated from college. Peter puts me in amazing accessories but these two pieces are the most meaningful. Now if you asked me about make-up I would tell you about all the lip gloss I have. It’s a bit of a strange addiction! As for a boutique, I never thought of that before now. Hmmm, good idea!
OCR: What’s next for Jully Black?
I’m in the process of truly realizing all my dreams by tapping into a life driven by purpose. Follow me on twitter @jullyblack for up to the minute happenings! On the not so deep level, I am putting final touches on my fourth album as well as writing my first book and so much more!