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Interview: Jadyn Maria – Singer and Songwriter

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For the past ten years, Jadyn Maria has yearned to make her big break in the music industry. With her career experiencing numerous fits and starts over the past decade, one can only imagine all of the opportunities Jadyn had to quit and let go of her musical dreams. But had she done so, she would have never toured the world with Ne-Yo (or signed to the singer’s label, Compound Entertainment). In addition, she would have never had the opportunity to befriend Katy Perry, whose life story is eerily similar to her own. Thus, the life story of Jadyn Maria, in hindsight, is less about the talents of an extraordinary singer/songwriter, than it is about the rugged determination that led to her eventual success. May her life shine as a testimony to all who are still following the rainbow’s end to find their pot of gold.

Upon the release of Man’s World, Jadyn Maria managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on her transition from Sparrow Records to Universal Motown, her international tour with Ne-Yo, and some insight on “why all the good girls like the bad boys.”

Before signing with Universal Motown, some of your earlier work was released on Sparrow Records. Your first project, a benefit album entitled In the Name of Love: Artists United For Africa, featured your cover of U2’s “With or Without You.” How did you become attached to the project? And what life events led you to Sparrow Records?

Long story short, one day, I was singing at a wedding and someone in the audience knew somebody that was in a group called NewSong. It’s a crazy long story, but I was introduced to their manager, Troy VanLiere, who ended up hooking me up with Sparrow. So that’s how we made that connection. As far as the U2 cover goes, I was simply honored to be a part of the project. I was actually chosen to sing that particular song. Obviously, it’s nothing like the original. But I was honored to do something a little bit different with it and to be a part of a project like that.

Several months after that album’s release, you made quite a bit of a buzz with your first single, “Rock You Senseless.”

You know, technically, “Rock You Senseless” was not a single. It’s just a song that I did for Clairol and their 2004 Herbal Essence campaign. I loved singing that song, because it was a very fun, and pop with elements of rock. That song brings great memories. And I had so much fun shooting for that campaign.

Between 2004 and 2009, there’s a void in your bio and little-to-no information on your professional activities. How did you spend your time during those years? And what did you learn about yourself, as an artist, and the music industry in general?

I definitely learned that it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been pursuing singing since I was 14, and I’m 24, so it’s 10 years that I’ve been pursuing it. Obviously, I grew up in the church. My dad was a pastor. I’m a PK [“preacher’s kid”] and not ashamed of it one bit. At one point, it felt like it was time for me to do something a little bit different. I have no regrets. I feel like everything happened for a reason and you learn from everything in life. I have no regrets there. I grew a lot. I’m grateful for the time I was given. At the time, I was like, “Oh my gosh, why isn’t it happening?” Now, in retrospect, I am a much stronger person. I live life a little bit more. You know what? Today, I’m still in the beginning stages. That’s what’s crazy.

A lot of people know that you and Katy Perry are good friends and you have similar backgrounds in regards to your transitions to secular music labels. What advice or words of encouragement has she given you?

Yeah, we definitely have similar backgrounds. We both grew up as PKs in the church, in the Christian music industry. That was a part of both of our lives. We met about six years ago. We’ve been friends ever since. Between her and Ne-Yo, though, I definitely feel like I have great mentors in the business. Both of them have separately told me to always be true to yourself and never let what people say or write about you affect you, which is really, really hard. I’m already learning that. It’s crazy. I admit, I’ve read some things. There can be 100 great comments and there’s that one negative one and it’s like that’s the one you walk away being bummed about. It really is best to not be a part of that, not read every single opinion. Katy and Ne-Yo have both encouraged me not do that and I think that’s really good advice.

Speaking of Ne-Yo, you served as one of the support acts for his Year of the Gentleman tour. As you made your musical trek around the globe, what memories shine bright? And how did the experience help you evolve as a performer?

As a new artist, you expect to perform in front of a couple of hundred people. Ne-Yo, on the other hand, pulled me out right in the middle of his set. I remember performing at the O2 with 20,000 people in the audience. It was ridiculous. I was really nervous when I went out there. By the time I got out there and start performing, those nerves turned into adrenaline and excitement. I had such a good time. With each night, I got even more comfortable. That’s the key, I think, with being onstage. You have to be comfortable. I’m still learning it but I definitely got more comfortable with each night. As far as memories go and fun times, obviously, sharing the stage with Ne-Yo. You know, when you hang out with him all the time as one of your great friends, you forget how huge he is. There were a couple of nights where I got up to perform and we’re doing our duet and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m standing onstage with Ne-Yo in front of 20,000 people. Who would’ve thought this a couple of years ago?” It’s such a dream come true.

Were you surprised by the audience’s reception of your music?

Well, I only performed two songs: my single “Good Girls Like Bad Boys” and “The Little Things.” I knew people would get excited about “The Little Things,” because it’s a duet with Ne-Yo. All of those people paid to come see Ne-Yo, so I expected the deer-in-headlights look, like, “Okay, what did you do with Ne-Yo? Bring him back.” I was really grateful and pleasantly surprised that the fans were accepting of me and willing to listen to my music. I made sure to thank them every night for being so accepting of me. That was really, really cool for me.

“Good Girls Like Bad Boys” — [laughing] — do you think that’s reminiscent of your personal life? And why do you think good girls tend to always go for the bad boy?

Well you know, I wrote that song and I definitely consider myself a good girl. I don’t know why but I just think inevitably we’re drawn to what we’re not supposed to have or want. So it can be different for every girl. For me, it could be the guy with a cocky attitude and has tattoos everywhere. Whatever you consider to be a bad boy, it’s like good girls are drawn to them. I can’t explain it, that’s why I left the chorus open. I left it a question: Why do good girls like the bad boys?

Flo Rida makes an appearance on the track. How did you go about selecting him for a guest spot?

Obviously, working with Ne-Yo and my team, they know everybody. We all collectively felt like Flo would bring really great energy to the song. We had already written it. It was done and we thought “You know what? He would be really cool in it.” So my team went and asked him if he would be interested. I was really honored that he said yes because I’m brand, brand new. He’s established. He easily could’ve had an ego or could have just said no, but he was willing to take a chance on me, a new artist. That means a lot to me. I thought he brought a wonderful energy to the track.

This song is the perfect set-up for your debut album, Man’s World. I’m curious to know the message behind the title, however.

It’s very woman-empowering but not man-bashing. Whether or not ladies feel we live in a man’s world, I just feel like we are strong enough to not let that be an excuse for anything. We are very capable and strong enough to do anything we put our minds to. I am partly inspired by this movie called My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I thought that the mom in the movie nailed it. She said, “The man is the head of the home but it’s the woman that’s the neck which turns the head.” I think that’s so true. I think that women are much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. I actually brought in Katy Perry to write on that song, with the idea of "Man’s World" being the theme of the album. On the production side, I worked a lot with Dee Smith as well.

During a recent BBC interview, I was able to preview a track called “Trench Coat and Shades.” What details can you share about that track?

That song came in at the last minute. We already had the track and the core idea done. But when I heard it, I absolutely fell in love with it. I thought it was so much fun. I’m sure most girls who have dated had reached a situation where maybe they thought, “Hmm, I wonder if my guy is being true to me.” It’s basically that idea but I felt like the take on it was less serious and more playful. I’m going to put on my trench coat and my shades and black high heels and just go undercover detective for just a moment.

As you prepare for your release, what are you looking forward to the most?

I am an avid Wal-Mart shopper! So going to Wal-Mart and seeing my face somewhere on the shelf is going to be ridiculous! [laughing] I can’t imagine what that’s like [laughing continues]. I’m still looking forward to touring because this wasn’t my tour. I was so honored to be a part of Ne-Yo’s and it was just enough to give me a taste. Expect Man’s World this fall and follow me on MySpace and Twitter. I just learned how to do the “twit pic” thing, so we’re getting a little carried away with that.

Why is it so important for you to stay connected with your fans through these online channels?

You know what? The music industry is changing so much. I just think now more than ever fans just want to know that you’re tangible. You may see a star onstage but at the end of the day, they’re humans just like you are. I forgot who it was – it might have been my grandma – that said “Everyone puts on their underwear one leg at a time.” At the end of the day, we’re all human. I think that fans like to see that side of you, that tangible, real, raw side of you. I think that’s why Twitter and MySpace are so important and so wonderful and it gives the artist a chance to connect with the fans. I love being able to ask people questions on Twitter and just get feedback. It’s good for both sides of the fence. It’s good for me; it’s good for the fans.

For more information on Jadyn Maria, visit her official MySpace page.

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About Clayton Perry