Jayna thinks her story is typical. Like most musicians, she started singing in the church as a little girl, but her story is far from being typical.
She is originally from Cleveland Ohio. A transplant to Oakland California as a teenager she began singing professionally in the 90s as a background singer for Barron Edwards and he was the one who encouraged her to step outside of the church and share her talent. She began traveling with his show band and was one of the first singers of his “Motown Review” in 1999. The Motown & Mo Show was the first of its kind in the Bay Area, there has been many copycat shows since that time. As a matter of fact most of the artists that you see doing Motown reviews were performers in the Motown and Mo Shows.
She considers herself a “Cubby” and when she first started singing she went on a couple of interviews as a front band. She never had the opportunity to audition because the producer took one look at her and decided she wasn’t the right look. It was a devastating blow and she even considered not singing anymore. It took her some time to get the courage to step out of the box and began again performing background vocals and fronting bands.
New Year’s Eve, 2001 and in a spare moment, she put an ad on Craigslist. Subsequently, the band that ended up nurturing and teaching her in her music ventures found her in the listing. Not knowing anything from anything going into the audition, they took one look at her and asked her if she could sing like Aretha Franklin. Even then not knowing that the band played more blues and rock ‘n roll she was prepared but actually had never performed that particular genre of music. They were all willing to learn from one another, and she was able to open them up to R&B. She led that band and sang lead vocals for that event and ended up managing the band for three years. They turned themselves from a garage band to a corporate band, and they performed corporate gigs and weddings. They played to their audience, so if the crowd was rock ‘n roll, they sang and played rock ‘n roll. If the audience was R&B, they sang and played R&B. She was able to develop her singing skills fronting Thrilltrain. Even though she was singing with Thrilltrain, she was still singing backup for the Motown shows and supporting local artists doing background. She had created a niche for herself.
As a Bay Area local artist, unity in the music world is very important. Her musical counterparts are more than happy to support her as long as she was doing background vocals, but once she stepped outside the background and begin to blossom, she noticed that a lot of artists that she used to support were not being very supportive of her. She’s working on building new alliances with new artists. Reaching out to artists that she hasn’t had the opportunity to work with yet and the response has been very positive. “I would love to do a show in Sacramento. You guys are doing it out there”. Jayna has worked with Bay Area artists such as; Nicole Butter Pearson, she’s been backing her for about 15 years now. Along with Niecy Robinson, and they are like the Three Musketeers. They have developed a relationship that goes beyond the stage.
She’s also performed with Tracy Ellington, and the group Talk of the Town in San Francisco which includes Carl Douglas. Singing background for so many artists she’s had the opportunity to open for Howard Hewitt, Ledisi, and Goapele during some festivals and fair events.
She’s currently writing new music and has an EP planned for the near future. Her writing talent include songs from her life experiences and the things that people in the audience are experiencing. “There’s something in my heart right now to create a song about what’s going on in our community. The black community, the injustices that are going on in our community”, explains Jayna. “Love, unity, friendship and relationships, that’s what I like to sing about, you will be hearing a lot of that from me”.
A friend Kenneth, started Currency Kingz in 2006. ” Ken is a hip hop writer. Period”. The first time he had ever written any R&B was for Jayna. She joined the ranks in 2013/ 2014, and that the time she did know anything about recording. He made her a recording artist, Pres. and First Lady of the label. For those 2 1/2 years she’s been learning the business, learning the label, learning the industry. Currency Kingz has had a lot of positive vibes come their way. Jayna and Kenneth combine their creative talents and merge them into one successful venture. Her current project, Diamond J is her own baby and will be listed under Currency Kingz umbrella.
“You know, three years ago I wasn’t thinking about becoming a recording artist. I was happy in my own little world singing my songs and doing my background for people. It wasn’t until Ken and I crossed paths, that the idea of recording came about”, explains Jayna.
Being in this industry, she wants her family to know, especially her children, that you can make anything happen as long as you put the drive and the grind behind it. “You can dream it, you can conceive it but you have to work for it”.
She is the mother of five children ranging in ages from 22 to 8 years old. Four girls and one boy and has been a single mom since the passing of their father three years ago this coming October 2016. “He was very supportive of me doing music. He loved music and would come out to the shows a lot. Now it’s just me, them, and the music”. They love their mom being a singer, two of the girls actually sing also. “It’s pretty cool to see them do that because it lets me know I’ve been an inspiration”. Just like Jayna, her mother was the spark that created the love of music in her growing up. “She just had this love of music that resonated throughout our house when I was growing up”. Her mother has since passed away but Jayna knows that she would fully approve. She always expected this is exactly what Jayna become with her music. Jayna had the opportunity to perform one of her mother’s favorite songs, What You Gonna Do with My Lov’in by Stephanie Mills and dedicated it to her at one of her shows.
“When I grew, I blossomed and it caused me to step out of a box I thought I had on lock and it pushed me to become someone that three years ago I didn’t know I would be, this wasn’t even part of my dreams”.
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