No Blues For Memphis Singer Jamille "JAM" Hunter, She's Bringing Neo-Jazz
1 year ago
Sultry jazz-infused soul singer breathes new life to the music scene
Jamille “JAM” Hunter did not simply dream of being a jazz vocalist, she envisioned herself becoming one.
Much of making one's dreams come true is putting in the work to actualize them and so Ms. Hunter lived, moving from California to Japan, then back to California before settling in Memphis, Tennessee. Once there, the culmination of times being hard and living being easy began to manifest into the forthcoming release of her debut album, In the Sun (scheduled to hit iTunes and Amazon Friday, March 16). In the city known for the blues, Ms. Hunter is bringing back the sultry sounds of jazz-infused soul, reminiscent of those divas that performed in the Cotton Club and Lenox Lounge in years gone by.
The subsequent components of capturing her dream required building a reputation and developing a body of work. This led Ms. Hunter to performing small gigs and covers in venues throughout the city before she eventually established and received support for her sold-out Sarah Vaughan tribute concert last summer. This dream has been 10-plus years in the making.
The realities of many artists and musicians that emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, is that they have likely been somewhere honing and enhancing their skills; they have histories. Ms. Hunter’s history began in Lansing, Michigan - not far from Michigan State University, home to Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and the occasional stomping grounds for El Hajj Malik el Shabazz (then Malcolm Little). Her family home was one of love and music, whereby Ms. Hunter was often singing songs that she had penned herself or creating original scores for poems and playing them for her family.
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Like many young women, she grew up in the church and performed in the choir. She and 2 of her siblings were also in the marching and jazz bands. Her mother Marilyn played piano and sang constantly. Singing was a weekly, sometimes daily, activity in her home. Upon graduating from Tennessee State University, Ms. Hunter packed up and headed west, which was not the best place for a budding jazz musician in the era of hip hop, “gangsta” rap, and studio-created girl-groups, but Ms. Hunter (then Freeman) created a pathway for herself.
At that time, in her tiny Hollywood studio apartment, Ms. Hunter was creating tracks and writing songs and began performing in venues around Los Angeles which eventually allowed her to perform in Leimert Park (the heart of art, music, and festivals on the border of the Crenshaw District) before she headed east to Japan where she taught English and gigged at night.