YOR Interview with Mama JAH
What has been your personal experience with Youth on Record?
My personal experience with Youth on Record has been the most satisfying, exciting roller coaster ride. I've learned so much about myself. I’ve learned about who I am as an artist.
I think the best part about my experience with Youth on Record is how communal it feels. Personally, I have felt accepted by every single person at Youth on Record.
I was part of the Founding Our Future event and during one of the rehearsal dates I was having a down day, doubting myself as an artist and dealing with personal life. Jami, the Executive Director, just held water for me that day. Stephen (Co-founder and Director of Innovation & Incubation) spoke with me. Then Larea (from Spirit of Grace) spoke with me. All of them just kept boosting me up and telling me how great I was, how everyone wanted to hear what I had to say, and that it was okay not to be okay.
I think artists need more spaces like that. Spaces where even when I'm not having a good day, I have a community who can hold water for me and who can be there for me. That's what I really love about Youth on Record. I love the love that they are always willing to share.
How has the YOR Fellowship program personally impacted you?
My experience with the Youth on Record fellowship program was an experience I really enjoyed, not only because it allowed me to just see myself as an artist and not only on the surface level, but who I am on the inside - spiritually, mentally, and physically as an artist. It also allowed me to network in a lot of ways with other artists here in Denver, Colorado.
And when I say network, I don’t mean network only to work with people. I feel like I really have a good connection with these artists. I'm good friends with some of these artists now because of the Fellowship program.
Overall the Fellowship program has allowed me to learn more about who I want to be, who I am, and how I can network and work with other artists.
Do you have a favorite moment or story from the Fellowship program?
One of my favorite stories is definitely a moment with Molina. He's a super cool human who is on this whole vibration of imagination and creativity, and he always has us really connecting as humans. Before the pandemic we were still meeting up at the Youth on Record space, and Molina had us do this icebreaker activity that wasn’t just any icebreaker activity. This activity was for super breaking the ice; like we just smashed that ice! We were all partnered up and I was partnered with Molina, and the activity was that we just had to look at each other for a couple of minutes. Just look at each other.
Having that space and connection with someone really allows you to get more into yourself. You see the soul of someone else, but it’s also like seeing your own soul as well. At first, I was all smiling and he was just stone faced, and I thought, “how is he doing this?” Eventually, he started smiling.
I know that's a simple experience but in a lot of ways, it allowed us to connect more. After we stared at each other we then spoke about ourselves as artists for a few minutes, then we would switch and go back and forth among the group.
Again, this simple activity allowed me to have more perspective on who I am, what I bring to the table, and what I'm about. I'm going to do that if I ever facilitate something, I'm gonna be like, “Let's just stare at each other for five minutes first.”
What advice do you have for others entering the Fellowship program?
My advice is something that my partner and I created for our family values: Be your authentic self. Express yourself authentically.
Youth on Record is a non-judgmental place where you can go and be you, and they're gonna be like “Yes, you keep being you! Keep shining! Keep growing! Keep being you!”
For me personally, that has been a struggle towards the beginning of my artistic career. A few years ago I felt like I wasn't sure if I could 100% be my authentic self. But joining Youth on Record allowed me to break that wall to shine and be my authentic self. The more you can be your authentic self, the more you can discover who you are.
And also, talk and network, because people aren't going to criticize you or judge you. You have got to put yourself out there. Keep putting yourself out there.
What artist(s) inspire you and why?
I'm going to answer this question first on more of a local level, and then on a mainstream level.
On a local level, I love The Reminders. They are so original, they have this “put your art out there and hustle” type of mentality, and it's so cool how they do it as a couple and as a family. And I absolutely love Aja Black. She is so inspirational, and she's such a cool mama. I love the fact that she's a mama, but she's herself first before she's a mom. She's herself first before she's an artist, and you can tell that by her artistry and her social media. I love her personality and I love what she brings to the table as an artist. It feels so real and it feels so healing to her soul, and also to a lot of other people's spirits. I love that and I think in a lot of ways I'm trying to discover that within myself - not to be a mom first before being Jahmila, but to be Jahmila and then I'm a mama, and then I'm an artist.
On a mainstream level, I absolutely love Tyler, the Creator. He is somebody that stays on my playlist. I really enjoy him because he doesn't care about who's going to judge him for what he does, he just does it. He's not only a musical artist but he does fashion, he plays instruments, he's into acting, and I think it's so cool how many streams of artistry that he does. I would love to meet him one day and tell him how cool he is. I've met The Reminders but it was more on a business type of level, so I would love to just sit down and be like, “hey, y'all are tight.”
Where can people find you and what are you currently working on?
You can find me on Instagram @mamaJAH333
I’m currently developing my website for Mama JAH’s Lounge. My ultimate goal, as this energy and light experiencing this human experience, is to have this cafe. It will be an Earthship cafe where people can come in and enjoy pies, pastries, coffees, and teas while also enjoying poetry and more. I'm still in the development of that but hopefully soon I will be releasing and dropping that website.
I’m also working on a poetic EP project, probably 2022 is when it’ll drop, so get ready for Mama JAH’s Poetic EP.