I grew up performing. As a young girl, I would put on shows with my best friend in her backyard. I would spend hours on the phone with my friend Jill thinking of lyrics to our song that would be a hit. I even sang at the White House while still in high school. You can ask my mom how many times she would have to come into my room and ask me to stop practicing on any given day. I wouldn’t stop. I loved it too much.

That love continued into college, where I paid my way working 4 jobs, created my own major at Northeastern University in collaboration with New England Conservatory. I had double the course load of anyone I knew, but I didn’t care. I was constantly performing and honing my craft. I was exploring new ways to create shows, and even co-produced (and performed ) in the John Coltrane Memorial Concert. At such a young age, I was performing with musical giants and had no idea how I got to be so fortunate.

But as time went on, so did my education. Though I had more and more opportunities come my way, the demand to perfect my instrument hung over me like the only rain cloud on a sunny day. Nothing was right or perfect or good enough. However, that part did not bother me in the slightest. Anyone who knows me knows that I am never happy with my creative work and that I am constantly striving to make it better. To be great at what I do.

The obstacle was the system and the lack of creativity and artistry that was allowed, yet alone encouraged. Instead of having the ability to play; to explore a role and see where it could go, I was pummelled by vocal opinions that had no artistic bearing whatsoever. I was up against a system that wanted to produce the “ideal young opera singer,” instead of cultivating young artists and allowing them the incubation time that their voices need in order to mature. So, after struggling for so long to find my creative place in this world, I gave up and have barely performed in 6 years. It would always pain me when people would ask, “Why aren’t you performing anymore? I miss going to your shows.” I missed them too, but found that licking my wounds in a corner seemed like a better solution.

But recently, something has changed. I’ve changed. I no longer care what people think when it comes to the art I produce. I have let go of their opinions. Yes, just like that. Like a light switch that is now permanently on.  I wish I knew how to explain it. It is like a child who has been trying for years to seek the approval of his parents and finally he doesn’t feel that he needs it any longer. I feel the same. I create because I have to; because that is who I am. Even during my hiatus, I found the creative process manifesting itself in various ways, though I didn’t realize it. From books to road trips to businesses-I’m constantly creating something. And come 2013, you can count performing more in that mix.

ja-nae-motivational speaker

This is me no longer caring about the opinions of others when it comes to my art.

I will give details about that within the following days and weeks to come. Until then, if you want a little taste of an oldie, but a goodie, here is “Santa Baby” from my first solo album. Want to check it out? Click here. I figured it might keep you company on during this chilly season.

As I plan my 2013 musical adventures, I will have updates on shows and projects. If you know of any collaborators who may be cool to work with, let me know. I am also game for an idea.

And thank you to all of you who believe in me and push me to be more than who I am today. You guys rock!

Love you guys!



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11 Responses

  1. Karen Hyams

    I have some things in common with you. The biggest is returning to my discipline after a long hiatus. My reasons for both leaving and returning are my own, but your story strikes a chord with me.

    Enjoy your rediscovered creative life!

    • Ja-Naé

      Thanks for sharing, Karen. Sometimes we need to leave in order to come back and fully appreciate what we have. Kudos to you.

  2. Sangeetha

    Maybe our “sister” talk wasn’t too far off. I stopped singing for years, tried to pick it back up over the summer and was swallowed by my own pride in pharmacy school. I got lost AGAIN. On top of it, I battled professors telling me to go back to music, that i’m too old to pursue a second career of this choice and to do something I’m “good at.” truth be told, I had a perfect score in a couple classes -the classes of these professors….their comments shattered me, made reflect and accept who I am today is artistic within my new scientific world.

    If I could walk around with a personal caption it’d be, “you can take the girl outta the opera, butcha can’t take the opera outta this girl.”

    I would love to collaborate with you in the coming year. It would mean the world to me if you kept me in mind.(I’m not limited to opera. I’d love to hit up some jazz….God knows I finally have something to truly sing about….)

    • Ja-Naé

      Hey girl!

      Yes, it sounds like we need to catch up. I didn’t realize that you left pharmacy school and are back to singing. Let’s try in the new year. 🙂

  3. Aunt Susan

    This is wonderful Ja-Naé! Your voice is such a wonderful gift! I cannot wait to enjoy that gift again!!!!! Love you! 🙂

  4. Carol

    Love what you have written! I look forward to what 2013 will bring. Love to you and Steven.

  5. Richie Demailman

    you’ve always had a beautiful talent and gifts. the gift of your voice and the gift to spread joy threw your possitive additude. I am not a professional critic, but there job is to critize. I am a layman. just some one that would hear your voice while I was working on your street, and have to stop and sit on your steps just to hear you sing the notes and scale. and the people you should listen to are the people that give you aploads after you sing and put them in awe. I am looking forward to listening and seeing you enterain me and a packed house. and your other endevours seem to be doing great too. your the most famous smiley person I’ve ha dthe pleasure of meeting. have a great 2013

    • Ja-Naé

      Oh Richie!

      It is so great to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate them. I hope you’re well. 🙂


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