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MEET THE GRAMMY CLASS: JAZMINE SULLIVAN

At the time you “retired” you said music was no longer fun. What about making Reality Show was fun?
I enjoyed working alone for most of the album. I didn’t have to worry about my hair or how I was dressed; there was no show or anyone I had to impress. There was nothing to distract me, and I enjoyed creating different scenarios and characters. 

Your album title, we believe, comes from the television shows you watched while you were retired. What connects reality TV with your life and music?
The title was influenced by the fact that I watched a lot of reality shows while I was on my break from music. I love the drama. It seems like an artist can’t successfully release an album without revealing their lives on a reality show—fans want so much from the artist now. I’m a very private person, except when it comes to my music. This [album] was a way of bringing people into my reality, playing up the drama, while not actually having to have cameras follow me around.

Babyface is nominated with you in the R&B Song category because of the sample of After 7’s “Ready or Not” in “Let it Burn.” Did that sample kickstart the song or was it something added later? And do you enjoy working with samples?
The sample kickstarted the song. [Producer] Key Wayne had already done the track when I heard it. I recognized the melody as something I had possibly heard before, but I didn’t know it was a Babyface song until months after I recorded it. I finally heard the original song when I was about to do the Soul Train Awards performance with After 7 and loved it. I don’t mind samples if the feel is there. With “Let it Burn” the track felt so good that I couldn’t imagine it without the sample, but I think it helped that I didn’t know the original song.



Considering your time off, what felt new about writing or recording compared to your earlier work?
One of my biggest revelations was that I could create something good on my own creative terms. I put in so much of myself into every song and really shaped the album—I felt powerful and proud when it was over.  I was nervous every step of the way, but there’s no bigger reward than finishing what you set out to accomplish.



What was the process like in co-writing the album? Did you have the songs ready before you went into the studio?
Every time I go to create an album it feels new: I get the same nerves; I have the same doubts about my skill. I completely break down, and then the songs come, one after another, and I believe in myself again. It’s really an unhealthy relationship—lol—but it’s so fulfilling when the project is complete.•

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