Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): It has been a few years since our last interview, so this is a much anticipated cover. A lot has taken place with you personally and professionally. Please catch us up.
Desiree Jordan (DJ):Peace, Sis. Ebony and all H2H supporters! I’m so glad to have this opportunity to speak with you again! Since the last interview, I can confidently (and concisely) say that I am in the era of the Phoenix (rebirth). I’ve grown tremendously – spiritually, artistically, personally, professionally. I am in the process of actively recognizing what God designed me to be… shedding away the ‘old’ and unusable parts of me, to access the truth within.
I am really proving to myself, exactly what I am fully capable of. At this time, I have a full-time job, and I teach an Inspirational Choir and two Songwriting classes to high school students on Fridays. I am creating new music (solo and collaboratively). I am mentoring other amazing artists. I am creating performance platforms for myself (live performances, and offering live-online performances for those who can’t physically make it to all of my shows). I am really digging deep into myself, uncovering thousands of truths I’ve repressed for some time, having personal/spiritual Revelations on a regular basis. I’m facing up to and overcoming my fears.
I’ve done a ton of work on myself, and I’m not yet finished. And I’m so excited to share it all with you!
EM: What have the various transitions been like for you as an artist as the industry continues to transition as well? What are some of the challenges and gratifications with that kind of growth?
DJ: I realized that over the years, watching the entertainment industry transition and trying to find a place for myself within both the industry AND its transition, is way more difficult for me to do, as I’m going through my own personal transition, every day.
I’ve stopped measuring my success against the standards of the industry, and I’m fully immersing myself in every bit of creativity I can muster out of myself. This is the best decision I’ve ever made… and for this simple reason: every industry (entertainment, political, technology, fashion, etc) is ALWAYS, ever-evolving. And it would be impossible for me to be the best and most authentic DESIREE JORDAN I could be — if I were paying close attention to and adhering to the standards of other industries, outside of the industry of my own art. I believe that life will present challenges in all forms, but every single situation, opportunity, and even the opportunities-missed, are gratifying. Growth is essential to me, and finding the peace within to grow on my own terms has always been more important to me than fitting in a ‘box’ for money or success.
EM: Tell me a little bit about your new image. What sparked the drastic change? How important is the image of an artist in terms of maintaining longevity and appeal?
DJ: Although I mentioned that I’ve stopped watching the “industry,” I do pay close attention to the evolution of artists individually. I do think it’s important for an artist to reinvent himself or herself, but I believe it should be a reinvention of the art for art’s sake, as opposed to trying different marketing ploys to stay relevant in an ever-evolving day and age.
In the Fall of 2013, I cut all of my hair OFF! All those curls… GONE! I ask myself, “Des, why did you want to do that in the first place?!” And my heart’s response was that I was just ready for change. Just wanted something new. After my birthday in September of 2014, I died my hair BLONDE, and began to shape my hairstyle into a Mohawk! It was a statement of expression for me. It was me finally doing something that *I* wanted to do… since childhood, I’ve always wanted a Mohawk, because it was just funky and cool, and I finally had the guts to do it! And a year later (Fall 2015) – following this idea of the Phoenix within me – I died my hair a Burgundy and Cherry Red ombre. Like FIRE! My spirit is on fire! In a great way. The drastic changes are a part of me redefining who I am.
I look back at my modeling and music photos and see my personal evolution via my hairstyles, and I realize that my hair has paved the way for me to fully embrace any and everything I desire to be. There is freedom in letting go and embracing the unknown. And because I was brave enough to change my outward appearance, I subsequently felt the courage to go within and decipher exactly whom I want to be, and what I want to present myself as, in my art! The music that I’ve been working on is different from the music I have put out in the past. Like my hair, my growing freedom with expression of sound intrigues me.
Although the changes in my appearance keeps the audience interested, I find that the evolution of style is more about the artist, than the audience. For example, Patti LaBelle… That beautiful and talented woman has had more hairstyles over the years that we could count! However, it was a transition of both her musical style and her personal style (as both aspects evolved with the times). We don’t really care what Patti’s hair looks like, as long as she’s SANGIN’, right?!
EM: (Laughs) Right!
Throughout your moments of growth and development, what was most important to keep the same?
DJ: HUMILITY. As people inwardly grow, they can appear outwardly as cocky and arrogant, self-serving and selfish, and beyond. I believe an important constant is to stay humble. People will have all kinds of names for what they don’t understand… “Diva,” “brand new,” the list goes on and on. But as long as I approach my relationships, my interests and my art with humility, what people think ultimately doesn’t matter. I believe the humility keeps us closest to God. But humility should not be confused with being subservient. Those are two entirely different matters. You can be a humble person, with all of the confidence and talent and drive in the world, but do not let anyone run over you. There is immense strength in Humility.
EM: I understand you took some time away from music. Why was this important? What have you learned about yourself as an artist coming out of it?
DJ: I believe an artist is never really away from their art. I’ve been pretty “quiet” in terms of performing and promoting my music when the seasons transitioned into Fall (2015), as I understand and have a respect for how Fall/Winter can be an interesting season of transition and recalibration. I look back over the entirety of 2015, and can see how hard I’ve been pushing not only my latest single, “Misunderstood,” but also performing and promoting myself much more than I ever have, and I’ve found it necessary to quiet my presence, as I rebuild, re-energize my art. I’m still very much working on my music behind-the-scenes. I’ve found this quiet-time to be incredibly important as I move forward into becoming exactly the woman I want to be, and who and what I know God created me for.
EM: What was it like returning to the studio and recording tracks after your sabbatical?
DJ: I spent a year in the studio, working on a project and learning so much about the voice as an instrument in the booth, versus how the voice can be used on-stage. “Misunderstood” is a product of that project, and after having spent that time, I felt tremendous artistic growth. During my latest (outward) sabbatical, I am finding that as I spend time in the studio, working on my own music and collaborating with other artists, I approach music differently now. More freely, and more assertively. I am a singer. I have been for a long time. And it’s refreshing to hear the growth.
EM: What are you most excited about in this segment of your work, brand and artistry?
DJ: I’m excited to be producing my own music now! The ability to play the piano, and having directed church choirs for over 10 years, as well as directing a band to accompany me on stage, is an asset to me because I know what sounds I’m looking for. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to find what ‘lane’ I’m in (musically), because I grew up on Gospel and R&B, but I truly love EDM (electronic dance music), Dubstep, and a host of other genres, so being brave enough to play around with the sounds that move me – without thinking about what genre it would fit into – is beyond exciting to me!
I have been branding myself via social media with the hashtag, #IAmDesireeJordan. This concept was suggested to me around the close of 2014, and I adopted it, not knowing it would change my life forever. As I go deeper into myself, my art, my purpose, I’ve learned that the words “I AM” are the two most powerful words that could ever be uttered. “I AM,” is God. As author David Allen put it, “Your I AM-ness, your Consciousness, is the way in which you change your world. Whatever you attach to I AM, you become.” In declaring I AM DESIREE JORDAN, I am affirming that which I feel myself to be… a unique and epic individual, one-of-one. I AM whatever I want to be, and #IAmDesireeJordan encompasses all of that. It’s very exciting to not limit myself to just a musician, or just a model, or just a teacher/mentor, or just a friend. I Am, That (all of what I wish to be)! I Am!
EM: What are your thoughts regarding activism as an artist and utilizing your platform of music to speak out against injustice? Similarly to what we’ve seen before with hip hop and r&b artists creating songs like ‘Self-destruction’ and ‘What’s going on’…the atmosphere hasn’t changed, yet, there aren’t many artists making conscious music like that. From the inside, why do you think that is the case with more than enough material to do so?
DJ: GREAT QUESTION!! The following is strictly my own opinion:
It’s hard to take a stand on/speak out against injustices when you’re on someone else’s payroll. Entertainers/artists can be at a disadvantage when a label is paying for the marketing and promotion of their art, because someone can always executively decide that a song speaking against injustice can’t or won’t make the tracklist of an album. The label can determine what image and/or message it wants to promote and represent. It can simultaneously silence exactly what it doesn’t want US to hear.
I also think that we, as a people, are struggling not to get lost in the sweeping notion of “self-importance” that social media and the industrial age have us focused on. Whereas the focus during the “What’s Going On” age was more community-based, we are in an age of ‘selfies’, with unlimited access to promoting ourselves individually. And although we have our serious initiatives like #JusticeOrElse and #BlackLivesMatter, there is still a greater push that needs to be made, to bring us back together as a community of PEOPLE – not just a community of hippie artists with a separate community of music enthusiasts or a community of spiritually-awakening people. We are all one.
That being said, I personally have not yet released music speaking on injustices, because for me, it’s a difficult subject to write about. I am, however, in process of finishing a song I’ve started, called “Only Love,” which brings to light that in these tumultuous times, only Love can save us. Stay tuned for that!
The last thing I will say is that with the advent of the Internet, the sheer volume of music that is available at our fingertips also presents a disadvantage, because I am positive that many ‘underground’ (or unsigned artists) truly HAVE voiced an opinion on injustices… we just don’t have the same marketing and promo to highlight those songs that can help bring us back together.
EM: What can listeners anticipate from you in this upcoming project? Also how are you giving back to your existing base of supporters and fans?
DJ: Listeners can expect to always #KeepGoodMusicAlive with me! I’m actually working on a few different projects simultaneously. The point of this is not to be scatter-brained and all-over-the-place, but rather to just put material out there for supporters of this #KGMA crusade to vibe with. 2016 is going to be very exciting!
Free music is available right now on www.Soundcloud.com/IAmDesireeJordan – including audio recordings of live performances, AND studio work with collaborations with fellow artists. The point of it all is to inspire. Video projects are in the works, self-produced music, collaborative music, and so on and so on.
EM: What upcoming appearances, tours, releases are in store for 2016?
DJ: We plan, and God plans. That being said, I’m planning to do a mini-tour, and a number of performances across the country. But what God has in store for me is still a gift that I’m unwrapping every day… I believe much more will happen that I’m not even aware of yet.
Readers, if you’re not already on my e-blast list, sign up now! Visit AND Bookmark www.DesireeJordan.com. I keep my upcoming events current on the site, as well as links to the rest of my Internet presence.
And please, follow me on social media:
EM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DJ: I am forever grateful and thankful for the platform that Hurt2Healing Magazine has offered to me, AGAIN!… with special thanks to Sis. Ebony Muhammad, a beautiful human being whose work is tremendously helping men and women in the melanated community. Although I’m not an official ‘member’ of the Nation of Islam, I have always been a supporter and fellow believer in the God that we all serve. It is an honor, and a privilege, to share my art, opinions, and dreams with anyone reading this, and I pray that at least 1 person is positively affected and inspired by my story and journey.
Keep Good Music Alive, my friends! May you be blessed!
Much love Sister Ebony!
EM: Same to you Sis! Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on EVERYTHING! May Allah continue to bless you!
Check out a live performance by Desiree Jordan as well as her official video to “Misunderstood”!