Jaime Woods : Ground Support Cafe, SoHo : New York, USA
“I’m finally in a place where I’m okay with singing background cause I’m actually working on my own stuff too. ‘Cause it’s hard when you know that you’re meant to be in the front stage but you’re always supporting someone else’s vision. And I’m very, very down to the do that, but when you have music inside of you that you want to get out also, it can become very frustrating. But now I’m in a place where I can do both and it feels amazing”
From the moment you meet Jaime, you are immediately engaged by her positive demeanour and effortless like-ability. You want to hear what she has to say about her personal path to date and where she’s steering her career, and it comes as no surprise that when she talks of her dreams and ultimate ambition it involves leading and helping others. Like many R&B vocalists from the U.S. her roots are firmly planted in the church, having spent her childhood in the south side of Chicago with a very religious upbringing. Since the age of 14 she has involved herself in any musical outlet available, from church singing to gospel groups, which has defined the approach to her writing, performing and broader creative process.
“The church that I went to refused to pay musicians to hold praise and worship, and my brother and I were like “Well, we’re here and we like praise and music, so I guess we’ll do it”. And because of that I’m a very communal type of performer; the way I like to perform is to include everyone, be it emotionally or actually having people sing. That’s just my thing”.
Understanding the lack of opportunities that came with growing up on the south side of Chicago, paired a strict faith-based upbringing and an overdue need for a change of scenery, she leaped at the opportunity to study music in Boston at the acclaimed Berklee College Of Music. But what should have been a positive shift both personally and artistically simply wasn’t a great fit, and this challenging time would ultimately be rewarded in the long run when the decision to move to New York was made two years ago; a hugely positive shift in Jaime’s life.
“Since I’ve been here things have taken off, and I’m really grateful. I’ve been around the States a lot touring with different artists from singing backup to Emily King and singing in a band called Gizmo. And that has lead to relationships…connections with a lot of people like Bilal to Lalah Hathaway and toured with The Tedeschi Trucks Band…I’ve done a lot of things…been to Africa for some shows… I believe in the idea that your gifts will take you far; and that’s manifesting. I’m really grateful for it”.
Jaime wants to be a success in the music industry; that’s understandably clear. She wants people to know her name and hear her voice. But the underlying motivation is one of selflessness; to use her craft to a point where she’s able to give back to her community and her roots. She talks of a survivor’s guilt, having gotten out of south side Chicago “hood”, and talks openly and emotionally about having found herself with options that this environment seldom provides.
“Situations aren’t necessarily as great as mine are right now just because of lack of opportunity, or lack of knowing of opportunities, and I want to be able to provide what I didn’t have growing up; because I just got lucky. That’s my dream, to be with kids and to work with kids; I want music and that career to be lucrative and amazing so I can fund things like this”.
And with that in mind, her energy is focussed on continuing to develop her music, drawing from inspired artists like Stevie Wonder, Jazmine Sullivan, India Arie and Whitney Houston; all ingested and returned in her own self-described vibey/soul sound. And the EP is next. Jaime’s chance to show the world what she can deliver; to lay that first stone in what will inevitably be a path to another successful and positive shift for her.
“I have to finish the EP…cause there are people that are waiting for it, so that’s awesome; but I just have to have it done. But it’s all going to work out, I’m not worried. You can’t worry about things cause you’ll never get anything done”.
Jaime’s setting her own pace; a pace the belies her age of 25 when, for most of us, it’s about the shortest route for the fastest outcome. Her decisions are calculated and tinged with subtle but confident self-belief. She’s a woman with music that yearns to be heard and nothing’s going to get in the way of that.
Whether it’s front of stage or in vocal production, Jaime’s in no hurry to rush her journey; and when bursting with this much talent and creativity at 25, why would she be? She’s already proving that she has what it takes to get noticed in the most musically-competitive city in the world, and you can only hope that she is paid appropriate attention by the right people to allow her vision to be fulfilled. If not just for her, then for the countless young lives that she may inevitably change through her music, her attitude, and her inherent need to give back. And most admirably, not because it’s what she “should” do; but because it’s what she wants to do.
Jaime’s EP is now available on iTunes; click here and buy it today!
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