Jazmine Sullivan has had an incredible year. After dropping her critically-acclaimed R&B album, Heaux Tales, after a 5 year hiatus and landing a number one single with “Pick Up Your Feelings”, the singer-songwriter doesn’t plan on letting up any time soon.
Because Sullivan will be headlining Essence Fest, it was only right for her to also grace the cover of Essence Magazine’s ‘Festival of Culture’ issue.
Aside from her looking incredible, the cover is extra special because it comes as a collaboration with another black woman who is an absolute powerhouse in her own regard—Issa Rae.
The beloved creatives found time to talk about what it means to create safe spaces for black women to speak their truths, therapy, and authentic storytelling.
Read some of Jazmine Sullivan’s amazing interview with Essence and Issa Rae below.
On the creative process behind her debut album ‘Fearless’:
“I wish I could say I had a master plan, but I really didn’t. I was just doing what felt natural, and luckily I had gotten with a record company and with people who allowed me to do that. But for me, I just wanted to express myself in the most natural way, and that means me writing my stories. So many of the songs at that time came from a lot of the childish stuff I was going through.”
Sullivan on what inspires her the most when writing songs:
“It’s about being inspired to do it. I don’t want to believe that I’m my best when I’m heartbroken, but a lot of inspiration does come from heartbreak. And it hits a different way if you are going through things personally. Especially if that’s what you like to write about—and I do write a lot of heartbreak songs, because I’ve been in a lot of bad relationships that just gave me material. Then there’s when the label says, “B–ch, it’s been six years. Just write a damn album!””
On who she aims to represent with her music:
“Before now, I had really just been concerned about expressing myself and getting [the story of Jazmine Sullivan] out there—and people have connected to that. But for this project, it was important for me to share the stories of the women I love and hold dear to my heart. I feel like they are just as banging and dynamic as me. And I want to give space and opportunity to women, period. I feel like we get caught up in thinking there’s “only one” of us.”
Sullivan on how she classifies her project, Heaux Tales:
“It’s an EP, but it’s changing for me now. I feel like now it’s more of a project or an album, just based on the effect it’s having on women. I called it an EP at first because I felt like it was too short. I had been away for six years. I was like, I can’t come in and just call it an album. But from the response—what it has turned into for women and what it’s doing for women, how it’s empowering them—it’s like an album.”
On needing to develop a sense of community within your craft:
“[They say that] there can only be one R&B superstar; there can only be one rap girl at a time. That’s not true. God was not stingy when He was giving out gifts. And you’re not the only person. There are many other women, especially Black women, who can do what you do. And let’s all create spaces for each other to get out there and do that. ”
Read more of this lovely interview between Issa Rae and Jazmine Sullivan here.