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  • Smooth Jazz Network

Rebecca Jade: Behind the Beats

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Rebecca Jade.

Rebecca Jade is 2022's Breakout Artist of the Year! We interviewed Rebecca in our annual BEATS magazine about the accomplishment. Check out the magazine article below but keep scrolling for the extended version of our interview.

Read the rest of the BEATS magazine here.

Rebecca, we are loving your new single “Show Me”! I know you have released music in the past, but this single is really getting a lot of buzz in the smooth jazz world. Tell us how this single and new project came about.

Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be sharing my brand new music! This album is very special to me and has been in the works for a long time, thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about it. I remember that I had some of these lyrics and song concepts in a notebook that I carried around with me for many years. I had been part of various bands and collaborated on different projects with other people, but I felt like I was missing something. I didn’t know who I was as an artist and I didn't consider myself a songwriter for a long time. I didn’t know what style of writing would come out, but I felt such a strong urge to find my own creative voice.

I had been looking for someone to help put the music to my lyrics. I had tried working with various people, but most of them just weren’t the right connection. Then, in 2016, I met Carnell Harrell. He’s an amazing pianist, arranger, and producer, and we became fast friends and seemed to be on the same wavelength musically. I asked him if he’d be willing to work on a song together and he agreed, and it was a great experience! He ended up being exactly the person I was looking to collaborate with. He helped bring some of the songs from my notebook to life and we also created new songs, and one song turned into practically a whole album, with nine songs under our belt.

The 10th song on the album was with another friend of Carnell’s and mine, Timothy Bailey, and it was a song that we created around the same time as Carnell and I were working on our first song. Timothy is an incredible bassist and producer too, and I’m so grateful he and I were able to get a song on the record, as well! I challenged myself to write all the lyrics for and to co-produce this record, which was a big undertaking for me personally because I had never done either of those things before. I co-wrote the lyrics with a friend of mine, Veronica May, for one of the songs and it wasn’t even supposed to be a song on the album, but I fell in love with what we wrote and asked her if she would be ok with me putting our song on my album and she gave me her blessing! The creation of this full record has definitely been a process and I’m so happy with the final outcome and to have gone on the journey to search for my own voice.

Dave Koz had some very complimentary things to say about you and he is a huge fan! How did you connect with Dave?

Aww, Dave is the best! It has truly been a blessing that our paths have crossed, and he is the kindest man with the biggest heart. In 2016, I was invited to be on the “Dave Koz & Friends at Sea” Cruise as a member of the party band. That’s also when I met Carnell Harrell and Timothy Bailey, as we were brought together to be in the band. After that first cruise, I have been invited back every year, with more stage experiences and responsibilities each year, and each experience has helped me grow in my comfort as an artist. It’s truly been an incredible journey and I’ve been able to live my dream of traveling the world doing music, with a big part of that because of Dave Koz. He’s changed my life for the better and I am and will be forever grateful.

And you were amazing while performing on his Dave Koz and Friends at Sea cruise…

Thank you so much! I feel so grateful to be building a lifetime of wonderful memories and friendships on the Dave’s Cruise, and I can’t wait to create more! It is truly a family and just like any organization, the culture starts at the top and extends all the way out. And there is no exception here. Dave has built a team of wonderful people who all have the common goal of creating an amazing experience for each patron who comes along on the musical journey, and I’m so blessed and grateful to be able to add my own contributions to the experiences and learn from so many of the greats!

And over the years you have performed with everyone from Sir Elton John to Will Downing, Boney James and Sheila E! Tell us how these experiences have shaped you as an artist.

I love learning and observing, and I try to watch and pick up any tips that I can make my own and add to my performance “toolbox”. I respect all of these incredible artists so much with whom I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage, and these experiences have truly expanded me creatively as I come into my own as a solo artist. I never take that for granted.

And now you are stepping onto center stage! This is truly a breakout year for you I imagine… It feels wonderful to be stepping into my own as an artist! It’s truly a dream that is coming true, and I’m enjoying the journey and the learning process. I reflect back on all the musical experiences I have had leading up to this point that have helped shape the artist I am today, and they were all necessary, even when it wasn’t obvious. I encourage any other up-and-coming artists to just trust the process and know that everything contributes to your growth, the good, the bad, and the seemingly unimportant. It all matters.

You have a very generous personality as shown in your work on behalf of other singers and I have witnessed it personally. Tell us a little about your general outlook on life.

My general outlook on life is pretty inquisitive, and mostly pretty positive. I try to see the good in people and have been told I’m too nice, almost to a fault. Also, I grew up being involved in both athletics and the arts, so a lot of those qualities from being an athlete cross over to my artistic side and even just in regular life, like teamwork, a healthy competitiveness, and strong work ethic (not that you can’t have those qualities and not have been involved in sports; they just seem to manifest themselves a little differently in athletes). I also believe that you get out of life what you put into it, so invest in you, envision what you want for yourself and go for your goals.

You started singing at a very early age. Tell us about music in your life while growing up.

I can’t recall any time in my life that music wasn’t somehow involved. My mom has a picture of me when I was about 5 years old, and I’m holding a mic and it looks like I’m singing a solo. I come from generations of singers and musicians on both sides of my family - my mom has been singing professionally for a good portion of her life (she joined a touring band while in college, and also sang professionally when we lived in Puerto Rico when I was a kid and now sings in church and in the San Diego Master Chorale), and she used to sing with her father and brother when she was growing up; my dad isn’t a singer per se, but he can carry a tune pretty well and he writes lyrics and poetry, and his mother played piano and accordion - so I truly believe music is engrained in my DNA.

My mom also exposed to me to a lot of music while growing up, so I knew about Billie Holiday, Patti Labelle, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder and many other artists from a very early age. Also, having grown up partly in Puerto Rico, Latin music also played an important role in my musical influences. And my mom and I would sing together while driving everywhere, so she helped me fine tune my harmony ear, also at a very early age. Looking back, all of these things strongly contributed to the artist I am today.

And I hear that you’ve got some skills on the basketball court…

Thanks! I earned a full basketball scholarship to play for UC Berkeley, and am so grateful for the role that sports - basketball in particular - has played in my life. I’ve always been involved with sports and was very athletic and physically active as a kid, but was also very involved in music, acting and modeling, so I truly led a dichotomous life, going between athletics and the arts pretty equally. As I got older, I wasn’t sure in which direction my life was going to go, but a chance car accident seemed to change the trajectory of my life and I’m grateful that music ultimately became my path, and being an athlete has contributed greatly to that artistic side of me, so it’s still a win-win in my mind!

I understand that you are also an actor! That is also my 2nd career, haha. How is that part of your creative life going?

I am! And so cool that you are, too! Well, to continue on in the same pattern as when I was growing up: while I was in college playing basketball, I was working towards and eventually earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre & Performance Studies. I was able to work with a Theatre company right after college for a few years, and as I transitioned into doing music full time, I still wanted to keep acting and was able to get an agent to do commercials, industrials and voice-over work from time to time. I’m so happy that I can still be involved in acting, while still doing music. They contribute to each other, in my opinion, so being involved with acting strengthens my musical side and vice versa. I’m grateful to be in love with different facets of the Arts.

Well, on the music side, I’d say you have a lock on being nominated as one of our Breakout Artist of the year nominees. Best of luck with this single, the current project and all of your endeavors moving ahead!

Aw, that would be amazing! Whether it happens or not, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity to share my story and my music. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I’m excited for this new phase of my musical journey, and thank YOU for being a part of it!

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kimberly sisk
kimberly sisk
5 days ago

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