Published Feb 04, 2015"Just living for a while. Just getting my life back together." That's how Philly-raised R&B songstress Jazmine Sullivan describes her return from a near-five-year semi-retirement. After working with artists like Missy Elliott on hit single "Need U Bad" and getting a Grammy nod for 2008 debut Fearless, Sullivan caused a stir when she withdrew from the industry altogether, citing professional and personal issues. A cryptic tweet sent out at the time revealed her disillusioned mindset: "I'm not saying I won't ever sing again in my life, because I don't believe that… [I] got some things to figure out."
The singer-songwriter says a return after dealing with a past physically and emotionally abusive relationship, body image struggles and being frustrated with the level of industry support in the mid-2000s has been "therapeutic." The sonically pleasing new Reality Show is the result of her growing as a person, stemming from downtime figuring out her next life moves while watching silly "unscripted drama" shows on television. Sullivan plays with the reality show theme to explore themes of authenticity from many angles — love, life, pain and all points in between — with tongue firmly in cheek.
Her third studio album has already topped the Billboard R&B albums chart, a testament to her skilful songwriting and ability to deliver a unique take on contemporary R&B. Coming back involved a bit of fear as well, she says, adding that she had to overcome a fear of singing live again. This time out, however, Sullivan is measured in her expectations, wiser in understanding who she is as an artist, and excited about the future.
"I'm able to record and do what I love. Success is getting to be able to do what I want musically. I don't have people telling me what I should do or this is how I should sound. I feel successful because I am free."