By Ahriel Nari
Christian JaLon is multifaceted generational talent. The Chicago-native singer/songwriter got her start in music in the church. Drawing influence from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, The Clark Sisters, and Beyonce, Christian has forged her own lane in music by blending gospel, jazz, and poetry. Upon the heels of her upcoming visual album, she chatted with me about what’s to come:
How did being raised in Chicago shape you musically?
We are very, very big on jazz. In our Bronzeville neighborhood, we have a big photograph of Nat King Cole on the side of a building. We have statues playing instruments in the middle of the street. Our jazzy tone helps us to cultivate sounds around that. We be steppin’ and stuff like that. We be groovin’ and we smooth with it. Dare I say, some of the greatest artists have come out of Chicago.
Your last album MINE was a nice blend of spoken word, jazz, and R&B. Tell me about what went into the making of it.
One of my homies, Wax, produced all of Vinyled Love. After Vinyled Love, we stayed in contact and he sent me the production for “Mine”, the very first song on MINE. I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t even have a project planned out at that point. I was just like “I really like this” and I was going through heartbreak. Instead of writing so many more songs about this person, this heartbreak, this sentiment, I wanted to write a song to myself. So that song alone is why I decided that the entire project was going to be about me, my God, the way I love people and me being there for other people. I wanted to change the atmosphere for myself and hopefully it reaches somebody else.
You’ve previously discussed that you’re turning Mine into a visual album. How did you come up with this concept?
LEMONADE!!!! I remember when Beyonce released Lemonade. I had a performance of my own that night. I went out and I sang but right after I got done, I rushed home. I stood right in front of the television.
Can you share with us anything that’s coming down the pipeline as far as the visual album?
One of the songs is entitled “Unmoved”. For the visual album, I have decided that my band and I are going to revamp the production. I’m really wanting to step into my rock star bag. So, I want this to be like the introduction to that – like “Oh, she’s rockin’ and rollin’”
You have dope merch that says “Don’t forget to rest”? What is the significance of this phrase to you?
I have a card that I send out with the merchandise and it says “with restoration, you need to rest. With restoration comes surrenderance and submission to God. You have to be able to give things to Him in order to take a back seat and allow things to pan out. It’s okay to sit down. It’s okay to be still. It’s okay to not always be in control.
So, you’re also an author! What is your book Amen about?
Amen is a book of poems, just my thoughts. I actually put that on the cover – “A book of poems, just my thoughts”. It was literally about heartbreak and coming back into myself after said heartbreak. The next book that I’m working on is attached to Mine and then the one after that is entitled Home. All of those books signify me being able to be restored. They’re about taking the time to look at situations for what they are, embracing and accepting them after having my temper tantrums and throwing fits and crying. It’s me just coming back. Amen was the start of that trilogy.
One thing I admire about you is your transparency about your relationship with God. Do you ever feel like you have to compromise that in order to navigate the music scene?
GIRL NO! Absolutely not! There have been times where people who were at the top have seen me, recognized me, and wanted me to do things. I would say, “Oh no, I’m good.” Then they would say, “Oh it don’t look like you good”. It’s like when those type of people try to enter in, it actually pushes me closer to God. What God has for me – that’s exactly what I’m gonna get and it’s not gonna come with any turmoil. It’s not gonna come with anybody discouraging me. It’s gonna come with people who believe in me. Everybody who I have on my team right now, I kid you not, God just dropped in my lap. I asked for these things maybe once or twice and very easily these people came. So, I ain’t never had to compromise and will never start compromising.
What are your plans for 2022?
I plan to have a live show. It’s going to be an online show, of course. It’s not just because of COVID but also because I’ve learned that I’m not a huge fan of performing in front of so many people anymore. I think COVID heightened my desire to kind of just show up. When COVID wasn’t a thing, I was already performing, get off stage, get paid, go home. I didn’t stay around to kick it or to talk to nobody. I do plan on doing a digital live performance for MINE. I’ve already got the whole set up and it’s really, really beautiful. Then, I want to release at least the first single from my upcoming album with my band and that will be entitled Letters From My Heart, Written From a Place of Healing, From a Place of Honesty. I am so excited for that one! I feel like if people loved Vinyled Love then they’ll love this album ten times over.
MINE is on all streaming platforms. Follow Christian on social media (@ChristianJalon)