Jai’Len Josey wants the legacy she leaves on the music industry to warm a cold world. As an artist, Josey is signed to Hillman Grad Records, the same music division founded by Lena Waithe with artists Davion Farris and Siya. As a songwriter, Josey is signed to Sony, where she co-wrote Ari Lennox‘s “Pressure.”
Before a show in her hometown of Atlanta on Aug. 31, Josey spoke to rolling out about her career trajectory from starring in a Spongebob Broadway play to moving back to Atlanta.
You went to high school at Tri-Cities, an art-focused school in East Point, Georgia, that OutKast and Kenan Thompson also attended. How was that?
I think it was the best thing that happened to me. A lot of who I am is from the high school. Everything I do now, I’m like, “Yep, I got that from high school.” I’m happy to be a Tri-Cities alumnus.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to sing?
I was on Broadway, and I was very depressed. I was like, “I need to do a little switcheroo.” I need to come back home and do what I’m supposed to, and that was right in sync.
I had to leave New York. I always knew I wanted to sing professionally. I always knew [it] but [not] in the capacity of how I was going to sing, like Broadway. I had to figure that out myself. Coming home kind of sealed that for me.
For the young girls who aspire to be like you, what would you tell them?
At the end of the day, the first thing you dreamed about should be the thing you go after. You can’t give up on a big dream because it’s big. Obviously, it’s big enough for you because you dreamed it. I’m still trying to accomplish my big dreams.
You have a soulful and easygoing sound. Who were some of the artists you listened to growing up?
Nina Simone, Beyoncé, of course. Alicia Keys, I love me some Outkast, too. I’m a big Paramore girl, too. Bratz’s Rock Angelz, their album they put out back in like 2006? I still bump that to this day. Stevie. Donnie Hathaway.
Who are your dream collaborators?
My dream collaborations are India Shawn, Victoria Monét, I love her. If Nina Simone was still alive, her. When God gives me the platform, Beyoncé. I love Chlöe [Bailey]. I love Doja [Cat] [and] Paramore. I want to make a rock album.
Where can people find your latest project or single?
So my sophomore single is coming in the next month, and my sophomore EP is following right after.
What do you want your lasting legacy in music to be?
I want it to be the warm hug people have been needing. It’s a cold life.
Where can people find you on social media?
You can find me on all social media platforms at Jai’Len Josey.