Ja’Shaelyn Sees the Beauty in Being “Unknown”
Written by Vocalo Radio on September 22, 2020
Coming from a family of musicians, Ja’Shaelyn was raised on the divas both past and present. We’re talking Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Beyoncé, Minnie Riperton.
You can hear the influence so clearly on her debut EP Triphecta – whose opening track “Forever” was featured on our “In Rotation” playlist this month.
We’d love to understand your background as an artist, how long you’ve been making music, who your biggest inspirations are?
I’ve been performing and singing since I could remember. My mom quickly learned that I was talented when she would play Whitney Houston songs and I’d go all in. I think at 3 years old, “Waiting to Exhale” was my favorite song. As I got older I started to realize that my extended family was actually very talented. My paternal grandmother and her three siblings had a quartet growing up and all of them played instruments. Throughout my childhood I performed as an actress and singer in stage plays and musicals, and it was the musicals that exposed me to more classics and old school music. Those tunes and sounds resonated so warmly in my soul. Evidently I am very inspired by the divas: Beyoncé, Rihanna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and so many others! It would likely surprise people to know that Earth, Wind, and Fire are my favorite band.
You’re from Dallas, how does that city influence your work?
Dallas is huge on stage plays, musicals and live instruments! On another side, twerk and jig culture is also big here. I am a Pisces and, therefore, I am big on feelings. I like for my music to tell stories, convey a message and a vibe, while giving rawness sprinkled with a little ratchet flare.
You released a tribute to the late great Minnie Riperton earlier this year, what is it about Riperton that inspired you to pay her tribute?
Oh my, Minnie Riperton is a pure Godly talent. Her vocal range inspired me to challenge my voice to reach heights. Furthermore, her music is nonstop emotion. I would put on Minnie Riperton’s catalog on Saturdays while cleaning the house and everything I heard made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to. Think of “Les Fleurs” by Minnie Riperton; she deserves more recognition and credit than she’s given.
You’ve got so much range in the sounds you bring, how do you work with producers to make songs that span your sonic range?
I’m very hands-on with my music in every step of the process. I can recall being challenged by the producers with not doing “too much” with my tunes. It’s important to know when and how to let the song breathe as well as being current with the times, and making my sounds unique and personal to me. My favorite way to use my range is in my background vocals. Stacking harmonies really allowed me to flex a little bit.
Triphecta was released early February, just before the stay-at-home order. Have you been working on a new project since? How do you stay creatively engaged throughout this challenging time?
I am always creating. My brain is full of ideas which really excites me and never lets me rest. Since public performances have tremendously decreased, I’ve been using this time to train and expose myself to more parts of the world bit by bit. I’ve been using music review shows as a way to gain exposure and supporters. It also allows me to hear where music is going because underground artists are the next mainstream artists.
Do you have any advice for up and coming artists looking to find their sound or become engaged with music making?
Do not stop. When life knocks you down, keep going in the midst of your downs. Trust what’s within you.
What is next for you? Any particular plans or hopes for what the future may bring?
Music videos and remixes. Considering my many musical influences and inspirations, I’m excited to do more and give you all more. I’ve learned to see the beauty in being unknown. This allows me to keep pushing Triphecta over a longer period of time without it becoming old news. That’s what’s so great about being a new artist. No one knows you and it takes time for people to get to know you. Use it to your advantage.
Ja’Shaelyn provided us with a few songs meaningful to her.
Give it a listen below!
Interview edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca.