Today we’d like to introduce you to Naarai Jacobs.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Naarai. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born into a musical family in Sarasota, FL. My entire family sings, parents, cousins; everybody! Because I grew up around so many great singers, I never thought I was that great of a singer. Some where around middle school I started focusing on acting. From elementary school to high school, I performed in school productions and professional theater. I vowed I would never sing professionally. I couldn’t have been more wrong lol. Midway through college, at Howard University, I hit a wall and found myself really depressed. I felt God calling me to focus on my musical gifts and I was SO not here for it. I believe in saying yes to God- even when you don’t really understanding what He’s doing. God is sovereign; when He says something, He speaking to you with his plan for your life in mind. I found healing in music. I started to really understand who I am and my purpose when I fell back in love with music. For the last seven years, I’ve focused on my singing and growing my musical gifts, and by the grace of God, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing artists: Beyonce, Pharrell, Kanye West and several others. I say “by the grace of God”, because I’ve done all of this with no manager, no agent and very few auditions. And now, I’m preparing to release my own original music in 2020!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely NOT been a smooth road. Nothing worth having comes easily. I’ve had financial struggles. I moved here with no job or opportunities lined up; I don’t suggest that to anyone. I moved here on a word from God, but that does not mean anything came easily. Fear has been my biggest struggle. I moved here from a small, Southern town in Florida. For years, I’ve struggled with the idea that I couldn’t do anything substantial in LA, because the market is saturated with so many talented people. I’ve struggled with comparison. I don’t look or sound like anyone else. Now, I see this as my superpower, but that’s a recent revelation. I’m an independent artist, so not having a team can be very frustrating. I do almost everything on my own. I reach out to other creatives for input, but creating budgets, finding funds, wardrobe etc; that’s me! I try not to focus on the difficulties because that’ll make you want to quit. I just keep moving. I know God is with me. I know He’s given me everything I need. Even if I don’t know how it’ll work out, I pray and keep moving! I also know that this will all pay off. I’m sowing seeds right now. One day I’ll have a dedicated staff and an abundance of funds. Not just for me but enough to invest in other creatives. I’m working towards a goal; I have to keep that in mind!
What should we know about your work? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my…just kidding! Truthfully is the best way to define all that I am is artist. I’m a singer, actor, songwriter, arranger, vocal coach, etc. I, also, think like a director; thats a gift I’m just starting to tap into, but I know that’s going to be a part of it all. I once thought I could only do one thing. I thought people had to give me permission to use my gifts. But God doesn’t put me in a box, so I don’t and I sure as hell won’t let anyone else! As a songwriter, I love to talk about love. All of the different aspects, perspectives, experiences, etc. I believe the world needs more love, but I believe it’s agape love. That God love. That’s what I talk about in my music. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
OPPORTUNITIES! This industry was built for wealthy white men to succeed. Anyone who doesn’t fit that criteria is sure to find a LOT of roadblocks. Being that I’m an independent, Black female artist, I definitely experience many challenges. There’s still a tremendous amount of sexism and racism in this industry. Though we are more aware and “woke” nowadays, the infrastructure of the entertainment industry hasn’t fully changed. I believe that we, as women of color, have to create our own platforms and opportunities. The time for time of waiting for permission is over! You have to create something no one can take from you. The goal is to create a platform large enough that you can bring others along with you. You want to be on a TV show? Create it! You want to release an album? Do it! You are the one you’re waiting for. This is the era of the entrepreneur. We are a “do it yourself” generation. It’s very difficult, but if you have an innovative idea (and a great marketing strategy), it can be very rewarding. I draw inspiration from Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Chance the Rapper. They are “do it yourself” people and so am I!
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