Introducing... Jessie J

  • 23 November 2010
  • From the section Music
Jessie J
22-year-old Essex singer Jessie J is tipped by Alicia Keys

From the outside, the release of Jessie J's debut single on her new record label Do It Like A Dude, looks like the very beginning of her story.

But the 22-year-old singer and songwriter from Essex has had a long and winding journey.

It started when she was eight years old. Family and friends noticed she had a "loud" voice.

By the age of 10 she missed out on an audition for a stage production of Annie because she was "too loud".

At 11, she was asked to leave the school choir because, you guessed it, she was "too loud".

You get the idea. Jessie J, aka Jessie Cornish, has an incredible singing voice. The kind of power that could compete with Leona Lewis or Florence and the Machine.

Like we said, it's a talent she discovered early on. At 16 she went to the Brit School (alumni include Amy Winehouse and Adele), at 17 joined a girl group, at 19 signed a record contract and made a solo album only for them to go bust two weeks before release.

It's what she calls "the golden ticket in disguise". She picked herself up, starting writing songs again and took herself to America. She wrote a song called Party In The USA, gave it to Miley Cyrus and it went quadruple platinum and became a worldwide hit.

This is where the really fun stuff starts. She penned songs for Alicia Keys and suddenly stars like Justin Timberlake, Kylie and JLS have proclaimed themselves huge fans.

"I have literally been on an emotional rollercoaster," she says today. "You get so many knock-backs and you have to give so much in order to get so little back. In the last few weeks it feels quite equal."

Jessie has no doubt paid her dues and is now reaping the rewards.

She's already accrued a dedicated fan base on YouTube after posting regular videos of her singing original material and covers while she was working in the States.

"I'm a very devoted artist to my fans - whether there are 10 or a million of them," says J. "I kind of got the 'ump, I was in America and I was just disappeared.

"I didn't think people to think I'd run away from the UK.

"I wanted people to know that I sit with no make-up on in my pyjamas in my bedroom hanging out. I'm normal. I'm only 22 - I don't always look like this."

Tipped to be included on every 2011 Ones-To-Watch feature going she releases her debut single Do It Like A Dude on 6 December.

Gearing up for her official launch she had to fight her record label to ensure her first introduction would be "just her".

"I don't want to be another girl who sings on a well-know rapper's song," she explains. "I wanted to get respect in a difficult way."

The in-your-face video for the pop smash - already viewed nearly 3 millions times - features J ring-leading a raucous party sporting some 'interesting' accessories including 'studded lips'.

"I wanted to be like Rufio - you know, in Hook? The leader of the pack," laughs J.

"I like to be controversial without being offensive. There's a fine line between being naked and humping someone and smoking cigars, but then there's doing it in a way that's cool. I just want it to be hard hitting."

For those who like what they see - and by her own admission it won't be everyone - J's debut album Who You Are will be released in 2011.

"I wanted it to represent me, being 22-year-old women in the music industry today.

"The album has got rock, I rap, there are pop ballads, there's reggae… Do It Like A Dude is like a club track. Rain is Lil' Wayne inspired.

"I suppose I wanted to take a risk and break the box a little bit. A true artist should be versatile."

It seems after the waiting and the false starts Jessie J's time is now.

"Some people might hate me, some people might love me," she says.

"I will make mistakes, I will contradict myself, I will sing out of tune, I will mime sometimes because I have to, I will get sick, I will cancel shows - I'm human, I'm not a robot.

"That's what I want this album to say - I have flaws and I'm happy to expose them."

The Essex girl has greater dreams than just having number 1 singles.

"My mum and dad have both devoted their lives to saving other peoples' lives and I want to do that same - I want my music to save peoples' lives. And I won't stop."

"Its sounds clichéd," she smiles, "but I want to heal the world."