R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan took the stage in London this week, belting out her hit songs “Need U Bad,” “Lions, Tigers & Bears” and “Bust Your Windows,” reminding fans of what they’ve been missing during her extended hiatus. Her return has been met with warm responses from many R&B fans who fell in love with the young woman from Philadelphia with the big voice. After performing several of her songs—and a cover of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky”—she announced that she’s also working on a new album called Mona Lisa.
To be certain, this is not the return of an iconic superstar— it’s more like reconnecting with an old friend. Sullivan’s ability to relate was always her greatest asset. She could be your sister, your girlfriend—she could be anyone.
After releasing two albums in 2008 and 2010, Sullivan appeared poised to sit at the head of the new class of R&B divas. With older vocalists like Mary J. Blige going middle-of-the-road, Kelly Price on reality television and Jill Scott focused on acting, Sullivan seemed to represent for the new school of ’round-the-way girls—equal parts vulnerable and volatile, sweet and sassy. But back in 2011, Sullivan said that she needed to take time for herself.
“I’m making an official announcement that I am taking a break from music. I’m trying to figure out who I am … without a mic, paper or pen. I promised myself that when it wasn’t fun anymore, I wouldn’t do it; and here I am. I’m not saying I won’t ever sing again in my life because I don’t believe that. But, in this moment … right now … I got some things to figure out.”
Since Sullivan went silent, more new faces have emerged. Elle Varner, Sevyn Streeter, Jhene Aiko and even Melanie Fiona, (who was already around) have gained more attention over the last couple of years. So, it remains to be seen if Sullivan’s perspective is as fresh as it seemed back in 2008 and 2009.