In celebration of Black History Month 2022, Arts Help is partnering with Canadian music non-profit Waveland to highlight over twenty up-and-coming artists as part of our Black Artistry Series, a year-round initiative showcasing Black talent. Each artist featured in this year’s event is performing in Waveland’s Black History Month Virtual Music Festival and giving an exclusive interview with Arts Help.

A performer since she was twelve years old, singer, writer and producer Janïsa has grown her music to encompass gospel, jazz, R&B, soul and electronic soul. Her music is made in the aura palette of burnt orange, purple and blue, and draws inspiration from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill and Sade. Currently, Janïsa is completing an album exploring her experiences with isolation at different points in her life.

In the following interview, Janïsa discusses what inspires her, the causes she is passionate about, and how music can make the world a better place.

What inspired you to get into music?

I was inspired by a deep calling to connect to an inner vibration that would not keep quiet. I grew up singing in my mom’s church as she is an ordained minister. It was there where I cut my teeth at singing and performing. My coming of age with music really cemented a strong, creative musical path within that has never died. Music is one of my soul mates.

Do you have a go-to song or artist that you’ve been listening to lately?

As of late, I’ve been listening to "Pick Up Your Feelings" by Jazmine Sullivan; she can do no wrong, lyrically, phrasing, production…on repeat!

Why do you think music is such a powerful tool for creating positive change?

Music will forever connect with anyone anywhere because of how spiritual music is at its root, it’s core. It’s a frequency that can be taken world wide and resonate with so many. Music will forever be an exchange with the giver and receiver, it really can transform a mood. I always say Music saves lives and I really believe it does positively.

Guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Arts Help believes that art is a vehicle for social change. Out of the 17 SDGs, which one are you the most passionate about?

I am most passionate about freedom. Freedom to live and be, freedom to make choices for oneself as they choose. I am unsure of the true intentions of the UN to facilitate real change in all the goals they have listed, but I remain optimistic and steadfast in knowing what I am passionate about.

What steps can we take to make the music industry a more inclusive space for everyone?

I think the steps we can take to make the music industry a more inclusive space for everyone is to change the archaic institutionalized ways of dealing with artists and truly understand that music is sacred and there is no ‘one size fits all’ for any artist.

I feel some shifts have been happening despite how saturated and busy music platforms and social media makes the landscape feel. Everyone has their own unique gifts that they possess and I am grateful there is room for everyone to share their art. I truly feel those who are gatekeepers in the music industry should learn to make drastic shifts in their intention and truly understand artists and their needs.

As artists, we should always own our story, our music. It is our power. We can’t let anyone take that away from us. Our music is a gift and it is meant to be shared and exchanged however one wants to do that.

Listen to Janïsa's music and follow her on social media here.

Follow the Black Artistry Series on social media with the hashtag #ArtsHelp365

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