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Jean Baylor: My Testimony

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Jean Baylor: My Testimony

Jean Baylor: Rhode Island born, South Jersey raised, and formally of the Billboard winning, fashion forward duo Zhane. Baylor is ready to bring back the heat as a solo artist with her debut album Testimony: My Life Story. With a new look, a new last name, and the same sensually soft sound – the crooner’s first single, “Morning Time” is sure to leave fans longing for more.

Singersroom: How does it feel to be back?

Jean Baylor: It’s been great. I [have to] get used to the spot light a little more. I’m just excited to get back into the swing of things, get back out there, reintroduce myself to the old audience, [as well as the] new audience. I’m really excited about it.

Singersroom: What inspired you to come back?

Jean Baylor: I took a long break, left the group and just lived a regular life. Music is one of those things I don’t think you can easily put down and let go. Especially if it’s a passion, a love and a career. I did need some time on my own though. But it was time for me to come back and get some of that music out there. [I needed] to have that outlet to be able to express myself through music.

Singersroom: Why did you decide to go solo?

Jean Baylor: It wasn’t so much a decision to go solo as it was a decision to break from the group situation. Right after [the break up] I had some ideas down, but it took a long time to actually get to a place where I [felt] that I was actually ready to come out with a solo album. It was the year 2000 and I had gotten to a place where I was hungry and desiring to have that space that you have as a solo artist. The space to write, create, and do whatever it is you want to do. That is sometimes very difficult in a group setting. Especially in our situation because Renee (former group member) and I are both songwriters, we both play piano, and we both produce. So it was virtually impossible to get out all you want to get on an album. But it was definitely my decision to break away from the group. I just think there is a time, a season, and a place for all things, and that was the time and a season for Zhane. We had a great time, but I think now is the time for us to do our individual projects.

Singersroom: So how do you plan to reintroduce yourself to the public?

Jean Baylor: I’m just gonna let the music speak for itself. I think that’s one of the best things that recording artists can do these days. Of course there’s the industry side of things. We have a great team that is working diligently to get the product out there and to get people to hear about the album and me as an artist. At the end of the day, I’m going to let the music speak for itself.

Singersroom: Looking back on Zhane’s image, I don’t know if you knew how impactful it was for the two of you to wear natural hair before it was even trendy. Black women face a great deal of controversy and pressure regarding their hair and image. Was your hair something you consciously considered before you came out?

Jean Baylor: Nope! We didn’t think two seconds about it. We were in college at the time, and I used to play lacrosse. It was hard to keep my hair right. I remember telling Renee, ‘you know what? I need a change. I gotta do something to this hair.’ But it was too expensive to get it done. She came up with the bright idea of me chopping all my hair off. I was like, are you crazy! But we ended up doing it anyway. I remember she took me to [NYC] for the weekend to a well known natural hair care place, and they cut all my hair off. Renee got the S-curl because it was coming into style back then. When it was time to get our image together we were like, we don’t really have an image. We look totally different. She’s tall, I’m short and we’re different complexions. We just decided maybe we should keep our hair short. Low and behold, it became this big trend. We had no intentions of doing that. But it worked out to our advantage.

Jean Baylor

Singersroom: What was the best part about working on your first solo album?

Jean Baylor: Definitely the creative part, even though [it] gets frustrating sometimes. The business part is a pain! (laugh). I don’t like to be in the studio, which is crazy because I’m a recording artist. I don’t like to be in there for more than, like, two hours. I’m like, get me out of here! I want to go outside and be in the sun! (laugh) The cool part [was] getting the mixing and mastering done. That was like wow, this thing is really coming to life.

Singersroom: What do you want your fans to take away from this album?

Jean Baylor: There’s such a purpose to this album, its not like I just came up with a bunch of words and lyrics and wrote them down and put them out. This album really talks about my life and everything before during and after the whole process of having time to live on my own. The most important thing I want people to take away from this album is what God has done in my life and some of the experiences I’ve had. Things in your life can line up with God’s will for your life and what he has for you.

Singersroom: Is there a tour in the future?

Jean Baylor: Yes absolutely. That’s the fun part of it. You know, getting up, doing what you love to do. We’re actually putting together some things now…different shows. I have some things coming up in [late spring]. You know The Roots have their Black Lily Open Mic Night for years. It’s been so successful. Now this is their first year of “Black Lily Film and Music Festival” in Philly, so I’m really excited that I’m going to be apart of that. We’ve got some other promotional performances with some of the major radio stations coming up. We’ve got some other things pending, but I don’t want to say it until it’s already done.

Singersroom: What else do you have on the horizon?

Jean Baylor: Right now, the project is absolutely the focus because it is a lot of work! It takes up a lot of time and energy. But in the future, beyond this album I think they’ll be other albums. My husband is a drummer with the jazz group called “The Yellow Jackets.” He co-produced this album with me. I know he’s going to want to do his own solo project sometime soon so we’re gonna work on that. I really want to explore other areas of entertainment. Also, when I have the resources, I want to start some sort of charity organization. Not exactly sure what kind, not something that’s just giving away money…but something that can help build up communities. Something that has to do with real estate and ownership. Something that’s helping inner city black communities. I want to do something to help build them up in some ways. Those are the things that I’d like to get into.

For more on Jean Baylor visit her website at www.jeanbaylor.com —— By: Interview By Waine Youn

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