Jazmine Sullivan

Jazmine Sullivan

Jazmine Sullivan, Beverly Hills, California on June 25, 2015
Background information
Born (1987-04-09) April 9, 1987
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres R&B, soul, pop, reggae
Occupation(s) Recording artist, songwriter, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2007—present
Labels J Records, Arista, RCA
Website jazminesullivanmusic.com

Jazmine Marie Sullivan (born April 9, 1987) is a Grammy-nominated American singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut single "Need U Bad," produced by Missy Elliott, reached number one on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, while her second single, "Bust Your Windows," produced by Salaam Remi, peaked at number four. Elements of R&B, reggae, dub, pop, jazz, neo soul and doo-wop can be heard in her work. Jazmine cites singers Changing Faces, Kim Burrell, Lauryn Hill, and Dorinda Clark-Cole as her main influences and inspirations.[1]

Early life

Jazmine Sullivan was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother Pam is a former backup singer for Philadelphia International Records. When she was five years old, her father landed a position as a curator for the city's Historic Strawberry Mansion in the Strawberry Mansion section, and her family moved into the historical landmark. She is a 2005 graduate of the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts where she was a vocal music major.[2] Sullivan began singing as a contralto in the children’s choir, then a few years later in the adult choir. Sullivan’s exposure to secular music was initially limited, "I was doing solos in church and someone wanted me to sign to a gospel label when I was eleven but I wasn’t ready to do that," she recalls. "Then when McDonald’s had a competition for kids in major cities, I got a chance to perform 'Accept What God Allows' on It's Showtime at the Apollo and the audience responded really well".[3] She sang with Stevie Wonder at his grandson's birthday at the age of 13. Sullivan was initially signed to Jive records at the age 15. There, she recorded an entire album, but the album was never released. Sullivan was eventually dropped from the label. She maintained a working relationship with Missy Elliott, who produced a number of the tracks for her debut project, including the buzz single "Backstabbers"—produced by Timbaland and written by Elliott. While unsigned, Sullivan took songwriting into her own hands, and would later re-team with Elliott for her first two studio albums after being signed to J Records in 2007.


Sonically, Sullivan alternates between modern productions and an 1980s sound which gives her old school sound. She's a singer with a contralto vocal range[4][5] and takes vocal inspiration from singers Kim Burrell, Lauryn Hill,[6] and Brandy particularly their "thundering voices" and "smooth runs." Jazmine has a voice with a metallic and raspy ring to it in her upper chest. The lower register remains warm and airy, while still being supported. Her range spans all the way to an A2, while still being clearly audible, to a C6. Jazmine's versatility is also surprising considering how thick her tone is. She can carry all her weight up to G5, while doing some extremely complicated (almost coloratura) runs and melismas. She's often mistaken for a Mezzo Soprano due to her dark, rich and slightly androgynous voice in the lower register. Nonetheless, the middle register remains "bright" but "fragile".[7] She describes her writing style as "flashbacks", in reference to her songs about failed relationships that were both physically and emotionally abusive. Her music displays her responses to these relationships famously with the song Bust Your Windows. She writes just how she is feeling, which in turn, taking a day or up to a month to complete. During the recording of the album Reality Show, Sullivan spent so much time revising and re-recording, that the producers had to force her to release the album to prevent a delayed release. But this only contributes to her perfectionist personality that she puts in the composition of her songs. Sullivan is well known for penning her songs which in turn, receive universal critical acclaim from critics and fans.

Music career

Songwriting and career beginnings (2003–present)

Jazmine's first recorded appearance was a guest appearance on Kindred the Family Soul's song "I Am"[8] as well as background vocals on the song "Party's Over" and the title track to their 2003 debut Surrender to Love.[9] Before releasing her debut album, a song that Jazmine had written and recorded with producers Cool & Dre titled "Say I" was given to Dre's then-girlfriend Christina Milian for her third album, So Amazin'. The song became the lead single, peaking at #13 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as well as #21 on the Hot 100. After achieving her own success (she co-wrote her entire debut), Jazmine went on to pen songs for Jennifer Hudson, Tamia, Monica and Fantasia Barrino. She produced the result of the completion of the sessions an album titled Break My Little Heart in 2004 but she was dropped and it remains unreleased.

2008–2009: Fearless

Sullivan first appeared on the music mainstream scene with her debut single "Need U Bad", released in May 2008. The song, which featured additional vocals by Missy Elliott and Sandy "Pepa" Denton of Salt-n-Pepa fame, went to number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and also peaked at number thirty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100. Sullivan's debut album Fearless was released on September 23, 2008. Sullivan wrote every song on the album, and she served as the album's executive producer alongside Missy Elliott, Salaam Remi and Peter Edge. The album received production from Elliott, Remi, Stargate, Carvin & Ivan, Jack Splash, and Fisticuffs. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and debuted at number six on the Billboard 200.

Sullivan followed up her successful debut single with the second single from Fearless, "Bust Your Windows", which was released in September 2008 and reached number four on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number thirty-one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her most successful single on that chart to date. "Bust Your Windows" appeared on the debut episode of the Fox hit television show Glee and was also nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song, though it did not win the award. A couple years later, in 2014, Stevie Wonder claimed he considered "Bust Your Windows" a classic song. "Lions, Tigers & Bears" was released as the album's third single in December 2008. It scored her third consecutive top ten on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, reaching number ten on that chart, and garnered some mainstream success by reaching number seventy-four on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sullivan later pursued success in the UK when she released "Dream Big" as her first official UK single in February 2009, though it failed to chart there. The song was later released as the fourth US single from the album in April 2009, but also failed to chart there. The album's fifth and final single, "In Love with Another Man", was released in August 2009 and was only moderately successful by reaching number thirty-seven on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. A sixth single, "Switch!", was going to be released in November 2009, though its release was later cancelled. The album received Gold certification by the RIAA, and has sold more than 510,000 copies in the United States so far.

Sullivan was featured on a song entitled "Smoking Gun" with Jadakiss on his 2009 album The Last Kiss. She was also a supporting act for R&B singer Maxwell on his highly successful 2008 U.S. tour and was the opening act for Ne-Yo's 2009 Year of the Gentleman Tour. She additionally appeared on Ace Hood's second album, Ruthless, on a song called "Champion". She also participated in the Essence Music Festival in June 2009 and headlined a few dates leading up to her Essence Festival performance with support from R&B singer/producer Ryan Leslie. In 2009, Sullivan appeared in commercials for Cotton Incorporated. Additionally, Sullivan made a guest appearance on Snoop Dogg's tenth studio album Malice n Wonderland on the song "Different Languages".

2009–11: Love Me Back

Sullivan began working on her second album, Love Me Back, in 2009.[10] Producers contributing to the album included Missy Elliott,[11] Lamb, Ne-Yo, Anthony Bell, Los da Mystro, Ryan Leslie, and Salaam Remi, who was also a major contributor to Fearless. Songs recorded for the album include "Love You Long Time,"Don't Make Me Wait" (a tribute to Prince), "Redemption," "Excuse Me," "Good Enough" and the reported sequel to "Bust Your Windows" titled "You Get On My Nerves", which was co-written by Ne-Yo.[11] The album was completed in June 2010 and released on November 30, 2010.[10] The album's lead single, "Holding You Down (Goin' in Circles)", was released on July 10, 2010. The song reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album's second single, "10 Seconds", was released to radio in late September, and peaked at 31 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was originally set to be released on October 25, but was eventually released on November 22 ; the music video for the single was released on November 12. In early December 2010, Billboard honoured Sullivan as the 'Rising Star' for 2010.[12]

2011–present: Return with new album Reality Show

In January 2011, Sullivan announced via Twitter that she was indefinitely leaving the music industry saying, "I promised myself when it wasn't fun anymore I wouldn't do it. And, here I am. I'm not saying I won't ever sing again in my life because I don't believe that. But in this moment… right now… [I] got some things to figure out".[13] In 2014, she announced her new album Reality Show.

In a 2014 interview with Billboard, Sullivan described her return as inevitable say she "...can't escape [her] calling.".[14] In May 21, 2014, Sullivan came out of her "musical retirement" after having a reason to sing again. She based Reality Show on watching reality shows during her hiatus which inspired the namesake. The album consisting of 14 songs, and featuring production from Key Wane and Salaam Remi.[14] The first official single is called "Dumb", featuring Meek Mill, and was released on May 12, 2014, to favorable reviews.

On January 13, 2015 Jazmine Sullivan released Reality Show to widespread critical acclaim which garnered a No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and No. 2 on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[14] The album sold 30,000 copies in its first week. Slant Magazine recognized Sullivan as, "Despite what the rasp in her voice might suggest, Sullivan clearly sees herself as something other than R&B's next great queen of pain. Her central themes—love and self-image—don't stray far from genre convention, but her musical versatility and keenly observed characters make her one of the most captivating artists in R&B today." [15] The album has recently earned Sullivan three Grammy Award nominations for Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album [16]

In 2016, Sullivan was featured in the visual album "Endless" by Frank Ocean, whom she had already expressed several times the immense desire to collaborate with musically. Jazmine lent her vocals to four songs from the album: "Alabama", "Wither", "Hublots" and "Rushes".


Awards and nominations

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2010 Jazmine Sullivan Rising Star Award Won
Year Nominee/work Award Result
2009 Jazmine Sullivan Best New Artist Nominated
Best Female R&B Artist Nominated
BET Centric Award Won
2015 "Dumb" (feat. Meek Mill) BET Centric Award Nominated
Year Nominee/work Award Result
2009 Jazmine Sullivan Best New Artist Nominated
"Need U Bad" Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
"In Love With Another Man" Best Traditional R&B Performance Nominated
"Bust Your Windows" Best R&B Song Nominated
Fearless Best Contemporary R&B Album Nominated
2010 "Lions, Tigers & Bears" Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
Best R&B Song Nominated
2011 "Holding You Down (Goin' in Circles)" Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
2016 "Let It Burn" Best Traditional R&B Performance Nominated
Best R&B Song Nominated
Reality Show Best R&B Album Nominated
Year Nominee/work Award Result
2009 Jazmine Sullivan Outstanding New Artist Nominated
Year Nominee/work Award Result
2009 Jazmine Sullivan Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist Nominated
"Lions, Tigers and Bears" Best R&B/Soul Single, Female Nominated
Year Nominee/work Award Result
2011 "Holding You Down (Goin' In Circles)" R&B/Hip Hop Song Won
"Everything to Me" (as songwriter) Won


  1. "All About Jazmine (In the Mix)". Blogs.phillynews.com. 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
  2. Archived August 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Jazmine Sullivan performs "Accept What God Allows" on Apollo". YouTube. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  4. Ani, Ivie. "Jazmine Sullivan: Reality Show (Album Review)". Dopeness. 2 February 2015. http://dopenessmag.com/articles/album_rev/jazmine-sullivan-reality-show-album-review/
  5. "Women That Rock- Jazmine Sullivan". I Hear That Girl. 19 February 2015. http://www.ihearthatgirl.com/women-rock-jasmine-sullivan/
  6. Morin, Natalie. "Jazmine Sullivan is the Body-Positive Voice R&B needs". Music.Mic. 19 May 2015. http://m.mic.com/articles/118264/jazmine-sullivan-is-the-body-positive-voice-r-b-needs#.oakjTwqUA
  7. "[Vocal Profile/Range] Jazmine Sullivan". Diva Devotee. 11 March 2013. http://www.divadevotee.com/2013/03/Vocal-Profile-Range-Jazmine-Sullivan.html?m=1
  8. Iandoli, Kathy. "Jazmine Sullivan: More Than the Next Lauryn Hill". allhiphop.com. All Hip Hop. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
  9. Kindred The Family Soul - Surrender To Love (CD liner notes). Hidden Beach Recordings/Epic Records. EK 86491
  10. 1 2 Archived July 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. 1 2 Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Published Friday, Dec 3 2010, 20:17 GMT (2010-12-03). "Fergie named 'Billboard Woman Of The Year' - Showbiz News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
  13. Cline, Georgette (3 January 2011). "Jazmine Sullivan Announces Departure From Music Career". Theboombox.com. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 "Billboard/ Jazmine Sullivan Is 'Completely Finished' With 'Reality Show' Album; Talks 3-Year Hiatus: Exclusive". Billboard.com. 2014-05-19. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  15. "Jazmine Sullivan Album Review'".
  16. "2016 Grammys: Complete List of Nominees". E! Online. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jazmine Sullivan.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lady Gaga
Billboard Rising Star Award
Succeeded by
Nicki Minaj
Preceded by
Jamie Foxx
ASCAP Best R&B Song
Succeeded by
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