Jimetta Rose: Exclusive Interview with the Light Bearer
Jimetta Rose has presence. She is the type of person who draws energy towards herself and those that see it are rewarded with warmth, intuitiveness and realness that is both familiar and refreshing. She is a light bearer and as any light bearer worth their salt has the uncanny ability to reflect your energy to you in an enlightened form filled with compassion. Elevated. It’s rare and dope as hell.
What inspires you to create? What does the process look like?
I am inspired to create by every moment of this living that I get to witness and also many events that transpired long before I took my first breath. I have been synthesizing my experience of the world around me into melodies and words for as long as I can remember. The process for me looks a lot like breathing I guess since it is something that I innately do, I don't remember becoming a "creator”; I think we all come here this way. I inhale and exhale experiences - my own and those that I witness- collecting the emotions and the impressions that they leave on my heart. I am constantly reshaping my perspective anew in response to life than trying to capture that in a melody or on a page.
Who are your influences? How do you hope to influence others? What do you want your legacy to be?
I am greatly influenced by growing up in the sanctified C.O.G.I.C. church during my childhood years. I think the spirit I witnessed as a youth, the joy of the presence of God is always an ingredient in my musical musings. Some of my favorite vocalists however are Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Elis Regina and Nina Simone. I love the afro futurism of Sun-Ra as well as the great years of black theater and black poetry being more mainstream and culturally focused, the drama and surrealism of that time when juxtaposed against the hard truths of living is in my opinion a powerful tool for change and definitely elements that I intend to incorporate in my art. I hope to influence others to continue to believe in their right to dream of better tomorrows, better ways of being and coexisting with one another. I hope to be a catalyst for love, joy, and authenticity within the hearts of every person my music is able to touch. I hope my legacy will be a testament to black excellence and the divine feminine energy that holds and supports all life which is flowing through me.
What piece have you created that you feel captures your essence as a musician?
I wrote a song with Shafiq Husayn that may never be released called "My Story of Love" for his project "The Loop". The full project lost its legs somehow but I remember writing that song and feeling excited about the growth in my vocal arrangement skills and lyricism. The song "Inshallah" that I wrote with Carlos Nino started off as a radio edit he had in his vast collection of sounds; well when I began writing the song it came out as a prayer. It was the first time that my praying heart and my thinking mind collaborated on writing a song and it blew my mind. I was like "oh snap Jimetta we writing songs that are prayers now what's this life about to be!?!" The song "Echoes of One" that I wrote for Josef Leimberg's debut release entitled "Astral Progressions" is to date one of the most authentic representations of me as an artist and writer; it shows clearly where I was at the time of the song's creation but also hints at where I am going sonically in the future, with a hint of opera dashed in at the end. I am working now on crafting an entire project that will embody me fully song for song, figuring out ways to incorporate my writings and spiritual epiphanies into the music and overall experience of the listener.
What led to your journey into music as a professional?
I literally can't remember a time when I didn't know that music was what I was on this planet to do, so from a very young age I was always trying to find ways to share it. When I was young I would write stage plays and musicals for the youth department at my church. I'd also write them at home and perform them with my stuffed animals using the space beneath the monkey bars on my swing set as the stage.
The journey to professionalism was definitely influenced and shaped by participating in church, school, and community art events. Performing Arts magnet training in high school as well as participating in the community organization Jammin 4 Kids Sake run by Mrs. Sheila Ferguson from age 11-17 years old helped to strengthen my work ethic and got me into the habit of long rehearsals as well as widening my artistic network through collaboration with other artists in the different showcases. Professionalism is something that grows within the artist overtime I believe, initially it begins with a talent that is wild and free but that must be partnered with discipline to render any stability or reward for its owner. Embracing discipline and establishing a healthy respect for systems already in place that have been tried and proven helped me feel more professional about my art.
What projects or events are you working on that excite you?
I'm working on a full-length album with my music partner Toly Ramirez that will be infused with my poetry, and my taste for world rhythms, classical horn and string arrangements, and spiritual jazz. I am most excited about that project out of all that I am working on because in my mind it is an official introduction to me as an artist. I am always working...idle mind bide your time to depression lol, so I have lots of features coming up with some great musicians and friends such as Elusive Beats, MED, T'eamir, Shafiq Husayn and The Dove Society, Josef Leimberg, and more. I am happy to be feeling excited about my music journey in general now, it's hard believing in the art especially when it becomes your source of livelihood and the ebb and flow turns drastic. It's difficult to remember that it is your purpose but when I did have that realization for myself all my joy began to return. The joy of creating, the joy of living and breathing, being able to respond to all the beauty and the ugly that is there. So yeah, I'm excited again in general! yay.
What direction would you like to see your career take in the future? How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I hope to expand into writing books and of course more music. I'd like to perform around the world creating music wherever I roam with musicians there; a sort of musical ethnologist. I have a theory of resonance that I'd like to prove through music and expression. I believe that we each have the blessing of a perspective - a unique and singular way of seeing the world- that is defined and clarified not just through the observance of the world around us but by the resonance or discord with the multitude of perspectives around us. I call this the value of contrast and would like to use this as a building block in teaching society more tolerance and actual reverence for "the other". After all without the other to say that which we are not, how would we know who we are, how would we mold who we are becoming? My music like me is constantly becoming more. That's how I'd describe it to someone who's never heard it.
You have collaborated across many genres, when it comes to your own sound, how would you classify it?
I'd classify my sound as limitless. I'd like my voice to remain free of genre able to respond and resound with the truth that I am feeling. I don't want to be constrained to one sound. I may want to do a whole album with no words only voice as a sonic healing experiment. I want to do that if I can. From straight soul to jazz to opera to whatever you want to name it. It's always simply my soul trying to find a way out my body and into a listening ear, so that I can whisper a word of love or revolution, of peace or pain.
You often integrate spoken word into your live shows, is that where music begins for you, or is it the other way around?
The two are my first loves. Melody and language as a child had me mesmerized. I love writing, always have it feels like seeing your imagination become tangible on the page. I guess it's a symbiotic relationship. I love them both the same.
How do you feel about the upswing of jazz music right now? Do you think it is sustainable? How do you see yourself positioned within the scene?
I'm ecstatic about it! I've been saying for a long time now that it's a renaissance happening. Each year is showing that this resurgence of jazz is not by chance and is here to stay. At this point the London jazz scene is hitting heavy for me with acts like Shabaka Hutchings and the Sons of Kemet, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, and Ezra Collective as well as Yazmin Lacey. It feels good to hear so many creatives opening their hearts and staying true to the art. I see myself as a participant in the renaissance for sure, doing my best to make every single breath I get count.
What does the future hold for you and your sound?
Things are getting better and better.
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