Soul Sista 

Jully Black is wearing Canada’s R&B crown with pride

Who: Jully Black

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Wednesday, June 25

They say it takes 10 years to become an overnight sensation and Jully Black – Canada’s First Lady of Soul – is definitely testament to that. The sensual and super smart goddess of Toronto’s R&B urban community has been doing business with names like Shaggy, Dan Hill, Destiny’s Child and even appearing on a compilation alongside fellow soul sisters Angie Stone, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige.

Well known on the Canadian urban scene for her hip hop collaborations with Choclair, Kardinall Offishall and Saukrates, it wasn’t long before the movers and shakers on the major labels started sniffing. She was snapped up by MCA Records, which promptly took her off to see their stable of successful producers and songwriters.

However Black was no manufactured pop princess looking to be a one-hit wonder. She’d been writing and singing for a lot longer than her youthful looks would suggest. The 25-year-old beauty stood her ground, equating the early days of making her debut album with being on blind dates.

"I was sent to writing teams that had bunches of songs all ready for me but I didn’t know these people, they didn’t know me. I didn’t feel comfortable with the songs and it just didn’t feel right. It’s so much easier to sing with conviction when you write your own words and work with people you’re comfortable with."

Black decided to trick the label into trusting her ability. She wrote a song and performed it for them – without telling them it was her work.

"They loved it and they finally got me. I’ve now written on 10 of the album’s songs, with the other four written for me by people who heard my music and spent a couple of days vibing with me to understand where I was coming from," she said.

Enter a mix of old friends, producers and co-writers, including DJ Nastee, Little Stevie (B2K), Saukrates, and Megahertz, plus a track called Material Things, featuring U.S. rapper Nas, and the product is something she’s damn proud of.

Her debut album, I Travelled, is due out in September.

Pique: What does I Travelled mean to you?

JB: It’s the title track I wrote for my mom. I’ve come a long way to get to this point and my mom came from Jamaica to make a life here in Canada for our family of nine. I’ve since travelled a lot myself and have been singing and songwriting for over 10 years. It’s also about the journey from girlhood to womanhood.

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