The Philadelphia-born songstress Jazmine Sullivan is receiving a well-deserved wave of recognition after the release of her critically acclaimed album Heaux Tales Jan. 8 and the announcement of a Super Bowl performance Feb. 7. Here, we’ve compiled a list of what you need to know about the talented vocalist and songwriter who has been making waves in Philly long before her mainstream success. Where, as a teenager, she performed at the popular Black Lily performance space alongside stars of Philly’s neo-soul era.
Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Sullivan spent part of her upbringing in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Fairmount Park, where her father worked as a curator. It was during this time when she began to hone her craft as a songwriter. Her biggest sources of inspiration? Disney films and works by her mother, a playwright, and her grandmother, who was a poet.
Over the span of her career, Sullivan has released an impressive collection of albums including Fearless (2008), Love Me Back (2010), Reality Show (2015), and Heaux Tales (2021). Arguably, her most recognized hit comes from her debut album. The track “Bust Your Windows” tells the story of a woman scorned by a cheating lover who exacts revenge by smashing the window of his car. It received massive radio play and was later named one of the best songs of 2008 by Rolling Stone.
Although she is just reaching a new height of mainstream success, Sullivan has been recognized by the music industry for her talents as a vocalist and musician since the beginning of her career. She has received a slew of award nominations, and has a whopping 12 Grammy nominations under her belt. These include a “Best New Artist” nomination in 2009 and “Best R&B Album” in 2016 for Reality Show.
Well-known for her breath-taking vocal prowess, Sullivan’s range and musicality has been celebrated as one of the best of this generation. With formal performance training from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts where she was a vocal music major, Sullivan’s mezzo-soprano range allows her impressive vocal agility in her low and high registers. Critics have coined her tone as having an old school hip-hop sound with influence from modern R&B to 1980's new jack swing.
Recent and Upcoming Work
Coming off the massive success of her project Heaux Tales, Sullivan has produced a selection of live performances including a session at NPR Tiny Desk, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and an HBO Max special to perform new and old songs. Sullivan is also in talks of producing a show entitled “Girl Talks” that was inspired by Heaux Tales.