Jully Black is one of Canada’s most successful female R&B performers. She’s ripped across stages around the globe and hosted national television programs. But there’s so much more to her than one might expect – and that’s why when I was offered the chance to speak with this iconic lady, I had to dive right in.
What do you feel are some of the things that need to change?
I’ll go back to listening. First of all, there are reserves and parts of Canada where Indigenous communities don’t have clean running water, this is 2021. How does anybody not have clean water in North America to drink like that in itself? There’s some of the audacities where I think that we need to believe what disenfranchised people are actually saying, I’m a black woman, I’ve said things, I’ve spoken up in different arenas, where it even comes to the entertainment business.
I was labeled a Diva for standing up for my band or standing up for myself, you know, labeled difficult, like no, because you ask for something that is right, you’re right. Why is it that we’ve been labeled and judged, but I think we’re in a time where the fear is gone. You’re finding we’re not able to confirm and find, because my manager is indigenous. And he said to me, as I was helping him to rewrite the script slightly for Lights on July 1.
He said, You know, this isn’t a discovery. This isn’t like somebody that discovered some new piece of land, this is confirmed. So even though the language that we’re using, it’s not like we’ve discovered No, you’ve confirmed what the Indigenous community already knew existed.
It was great to see you back on the Juno stage with Liberty Silver. We spoke with Liberty about her incredible career journey and that was an amazing story that people need to hear. Tell me about your journey from when you started to where you are today.
I’m giving you such a hopscotch because I’m writing a book. In fact, I just got a book deal. So it’s going to be all in my book, but from where I am now, I’ll give you a summary. My mom passed away three and a half years ago, and it really taught me a lot. It’s taught me a lot about fearing less.
There’s one thing some people don’t want; to be fearless. It’s like, we don’t want to be fearless, we have to fear less. And really be able to start to understand that we matter. And all of the things that mean something to us, do mean something to us, if you want to pursue, knitting, then pursue it with all of your heart and soul. So I’m on a mission. If you could see it, I got this tattoo. It’s a bridge. I realized that I’ve been given a very strong gift, connecting people, and helping people even through my social media, to be empowered women and girls, to love the skin that you’re in. So my music in the beginning has given my validation, so to speak.
But now, my significance really lies in sitting here with you, and taking this opportunity to have a conversation. I want to know what your dreams are. I want to know you, you’re here to interview me. But you’re equally as important, and I’m absolutely nothing without you. So that’s where I’m at.
I’m at a place where there’s still music, I have a new album that’s been mixed and mastered right now called “Three Rocks and a Slingshot”. It’s an ode to David and Goliath, because all it takes is you got three ideas even, that you just can really stand behind or your three emotions, whether you’re full of love or full peace, full of forgiveness, just find your three, and put on your slingshot. And when that negativity or that doubt, or those limiting beliefs start to creep up your way, know we’re humans, it’ll happen, you put that slingshot and you hit it with some love. So that’s where I’m at in my life.
How important was it for you to be on that 50th Anniversary Juno stage with Liberty?
That moment, it was very interesting, because there’s a big gap between our careers. I feel like she’d never got her flowers just like people say to me, I didn’t get my flowers. It’s interesting. Now with social media, there’s a bit of Canadians and Canadian artists and R&B and Hip Hop, whether it’s Drake or the Weeknd, or Alessia Cara, or Jessie Reyez, now the world is starting to get to know Canadian urban artists more. But me coming up, there wasn’t social media the way it is now.
I could offer her more empathy than when I was younger. I was like, okay, as a bridge, that was cool. But I was really thinking about me. And now I see the next generation. And they give me some flowers. But now I’m like, you know what? Without a Liberty, there’ll be no Jully. Without Jully, there’d be no Jessie or Alessia. Without Deborah Cox, there’d be no others. We have to really start to celebrate one another more. So it was very important. I’m glad I got the call to be up there with her and to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Hip Hop.
To some, your appearance at the Junos was a bit of a comeback. Is Jully back and ready to kick ass?
I didn’t go anywhere. So that’s my answer. People like to come back, come back from where? So that’s something that I’m on a mission to eradicate as well. The music business could be so superficial and unlike, you know who’s gone away, or who’s in the Hall of Fame, or who’s washed up.
You don’t say that about doctors or lawyers or nurses and musicians are the ultimate physicians. We are the physicians of the world. I think, it’s important for especially the media, to start to re-brand and start to rephrase that type of labeling where it’s like, hey, whoa, like where you been? Well, hey, my mom had pancreatic cancer. So I was taking care of her. You know, there’s things where it’s like, I’m honored to be able to.
Back in the day, you could put out an album every three, four years. It’s not a comeback. It just happens to be when you’re writing your songs. But because we live in a time where the attention span is so short, society’s like, Oh, is this a comeback? I didn’t go anywhere.
When I hear your name, I automatically go back to a concert with you opening for Black Eyed Peas in Saskatoon. That was such an incredible show. I will never forget you chanting “When I Say Jully, You Say Black.” I still want to do that every time I hear your name. How did you get to the point where people started chanting your name after you – that process couldn’t have been easy?
To be honest with you, I started by saying when I say peace, you say love. Right. So that was the entry point. I wanted to associate peace and love with my name, Jully Black. So once I start off, she’ll say love. And then when I say you, Jully, I’ll say Black. It’s like you’re still saying peace and love. Right? So that’s how I got it to happen.
I wanted to ask about the song “Seven Day Fool”. What does that song mean to you today?
Ah, that’s a very good question. You’re going deep. Today, I would say that it makes me realize that my mother’s generation, grandmother’s and beyond thought they had the rule to basically submit only. I’m down with taking care of your man, your family. It can be the role of the woman. But I’m of two minds. One is, I like that. It represents a woman that saying, Hey, I have your back. I’m going to be the matriarch of this family, and wash and cook and clean and do all the things and know that my family is taken care of.
On the other hand, I recognize that sometimes the songs of the 50s, 60s even 70s that were written by men for women, because Berry Gordy Jr. wrote that song for Etta James, you start to realize the role the male writers were putting women in. Even Aretha Franklin has songs that were written by Otis Redding, you know what I mean? So I started to kind of do my research and when Smokey Robinson wrote that song for The Supremes, his viewpoint on what women should do, or where they should be, was from a male perspective. So it’s very interesting.
I wanted to close the interview chatting about your last single “Mi No Fraid”. Tell me about the song.
Yeah, it’s interesting because it’s out, but it’s not officially out. So we’re going to be shooting our video and all that. So, in a nutshell, and maybe you can relate to this with anybody in life. Have you ever had that person in your life or people where they’d be like, Oh, I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know if you could handle it, or I thought I would hurt your feelings. Or I didn’t know it was too much for you to handle, like anything not even talked about romantically. Have you ever experienced that before?
So the song is basically saying, Hey, give me the option. Give me more credit than having a bit more backbone, that you could share anything with me. So “Mi No Fraid” means I’m not scared basically in the Jamaican dialect, like, Hey, I would rather if it’s romantically, I’d rather you tell me this relationship isn’t working out, then you cheat on me.