KELIS’ FORMER HYPE GIRL JADE ALSTON IS STEPPING OUT OF THE BACKGROUND TO BUILD HER CAREER AS A SINGER/SONGWRITER. SHE’S OPENED FOR MANY MAJOR ACTS AND IS NOW READY TO HAVE THE SPOTLIGHT ON HER AS THE HEADLINER. MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS JADE HAS TURNED BEING DUMPED BY HER BOYFRIEND INTO SINGLE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT, A CONTEMPORARY R&B CLASSIC. THEHIPHOPDIVA SPOKE WITH JADE ALSTON ABOUT HER JOURNEY THUS FAR AND WHERE SHE HOPES IT TAKES HER.
HHD (THEHIPHOPDIVA): The past 10 years have been quite a journey for you in your career. You came from humble beginnings to interviewing A-list celebrities to being Kelis’ hype girl to opening for major acts to working with Grammy award winning producers and Grammy nominated writers and now you’re having them work with you on your project. Is this the path you imagined yourself taking?
JA (JADE ALSTON): The way you just ran it down makes me feel like dang, I did do a lot, hunh? I always knew that I wanted to do music. I never really knew what path that would put me on. I just knew that I wanted to do it. So the path that I’ve taken thus far, it’s all unexpected. It’s all a surprise. It’s exciting and hopefully it gets me to the benchmarks I’ve set for myself.
HHD: At the end of this journey where do you hope to end up?
JA: I just want to be able to make a living doing music. If I could pay my bills and raise my family doing music it would be the best thing. How many people can say they make a living doing what they love? That’s a huge blessing. That’s my ultimate goal.
HHD: Musically, who are your influences?
JA: Some of my bigger influences are Toni Braxton, obviously for the tone, Anita Baker for the timing. They have warm, heavier-toned voices yet they were able to make them classic and feminine even though they’re lower. Those are my influences as far as vocals are concerned. As far as the sound, I’d like to think just great R&B in general. I love Drake. I like how he’s really relatable in his lyrics and approach and he’s versatile. I like Kanye because he’s just so soulful, so honest, and so original.
HHD: You’re singing R&B music at a time when so many singers are changing their sound to blend in with pop music and hip hop. Why are you not following the trend?
JA: I will start by saying I love all kinds of music and if the opportunity came for me to sing a pop song and it made sense, then I’d go for it because I just love music in general and would try it. But it was important for me to develop a base of R&B. I can’t deny my voice. My voice is straight up, classic R&B. You can’t get more R&B than Toni Braxton and Anita Baker. So, I’m like that’s my voice, I’m not gonna deny it. I used to hate my voice. I wanted to sound like whoever was hot – Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera. But when I was like okay, I have a low voice and I tried to find sounds to fit my voice this is what came out of it. The music is R&B but it’s not so old school where there’s no edge, no spice to it.
HHD: How did you develop the concept of Single on a Saturday Night?
JA: Girl, I got dumped. I was recently single and my ex had bought me the entire series of “Sex And The City.” I love Carrie Bradshaw. I swear she’s the on TV, white girl character of Jade. I was like, I’m Carrie Bradshaw but Jade Alston. I was like she’s sex and the city; I’m single on a Saturday night.
HHD: As females what do you want us to experience or feel when listening to the project?
JA: I would like anyone listening to the project to remember to feel. I feel like a lot of times we get so caught up in the mundane. It’s like get up, go to school, go to work, pay your bills, feed the kids, and you forget that you’re not only the things that you do but a whole entire person filled with emotions on the inside. More than anything I want people to be able to listen to the music, relate to it, feel good, even if it’s not a happy song but feel good in knowing that life is real.
HHD: Using one word describe Jade Alston the singer/songwriter.
HHD: Are there any female hip hop artists you would like to collaborate with?
JA: I would love to collaborate with, I know everyone says Lauryn Hill, but duh, Lauryn Hill is just amazing. I’d love to collaborate with Beyonce. If I could sit in on a session with her, oh my God, I’ll probably cry the whole time. People are always hating on Beyonce and I don’t understand why, she is really the shit. How do you hate on that? I would love to collaborate with Adele.
HHD: Clearly you’re busy creating music whether you’re writing for yourself or other artists. But, when you’re not working what do you enjoy doing?
JA: I love talking shit with my girls, having Moscato, watching whatever is the funny reality show at the time. “Love & Hip Hop” is what we do on Monday nights now. I spend a lot of time by myself reading books and stuff. I’m a major nerd. I go to the bookstore and spend no money, just sit there, read books, and drink the free water. I spend a lot of time with my family. My mom’s my manager, my sister’s a photographer…we’re all just really close. My dad gives the best advice.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
JA: The first thing that came to my mind was a bad bitch. I’ll give you a more politically correct version, let me think about that. A hip hop diva is a woman that is in tuned with the hip hop lifestyle, who’s just fly and has a great ear for music, an open mind, and a trendsetter who doesn’t care and does her.