Jully Black talks about leadHERship in the music industry
International Women’s Day (March 8) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. In honour of this important date, we spoke with Jully Black, Canada’s Queen of R&B and a key influencer in the country’s urban music landscape. During our chat, Jully shared her advice for the next generation of female music professionals and artists.
As one of the Canada’s founding female voices in urban music, Jully is well-acquainted with the challenges of ‘making it’ in the Canadian music industry. Not only did she face obstacles as an artist, she also had to quickly learn how to maneuver her way around the difficulties of being a female in (the still) male-dominated business. All this during a time when Canada was not looked to as a hub of potential music exports, as it is seen today.
Claim your seat at the table.
“Don’t play small, don’t be afraid of your own light,” said Jully. She recalls a time early in her career when she learned that in order to be taken seriously ‘at the table’ in the industry, she had to take herself seriously first.
Feedback is a gift, be coachable.
Jully said that working alongside male colleagues taught her how to receive criticism and, sometimes negative, feedback on her work with grace. “I learned to remove emotion from the equation and not to take things personally,” she said. “This was hard because it’s my work, I gave birth to those lyrics and that song, but I had to learn to use that feedback to get better, not to get bitter.”
Women need to start running with other women.
“Why are there only guy crews in music?” Jully pointed out during our interview. She believes that the best way to move the needle for females in the urban music industry is for women to come together to move it collectively.
“From Flipmode Squad, to Nelly and the St. Lunatics to now, OVO, the industry has plenty of male crews,” Jully noted. “There are no all-female groups working together and collaborating on the business and music end to make a movement. That needs to change if anything is going to change. Could you imagine if Deborah (Cox), Divine (Brown), Jessie (Reyez), Alessia (Cara) Melanie Fiona, and myself came together?”
Always be learning.
“I learned very early on that empowering yourself with tools and knowledge about the business pays in dividends later,” Jully said. “Learn the business, learn how to use the software, learn how to use the technology — teach yourself how to fish.”
Very simply, Jully says that before a female artist starts down her path, she has to learn how to get out of her own way. “I had to practice strong self-talk so that I didn’t second-guess myself or get intimidated,” she said.
Routine breeds success.
“You need an athletic-type discipline and work ethic,” said Jully. “With the proper routine that includes self care, good nutrition, and commitment to timelines and work, you set yourself up for success down the road and for a long career.”
Success leaves clues, follow them.
Jully believes that everyone who is serious about building a career in the music industry should have a trusted mentor. “There’s always someone who has done it before you and success leaves clues,” she said. “Let them guide you so they can warn you about potential landmines. They’ll know because they’ve been down the road you’re about to travel and they’re already hit those landmines.”
Trust the process.
Jully emphasizes the importance of keeping integrity intact by making the right moves, doing the right work, and then patiently waiting for the results to flow-in on its own time. “Patience, patience, patience,” Jully said. “What’s for you can’t miss you, wait for it.”
Written by Maricel Joy Dicion for HipHopCanada
Jully Black’s music is available on all digital streaming platforms including Apple Music.
Follow @MissJullyBlack on Instagram.
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