Jessica Ellen Cornish (born 27 March 1988), better known by her stage name Jessie J, is an English singer and songwriter. Born and brought up in London, England, she studied at the BRIT School before signing with Gut Records and striking a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing where she wrote for artists including Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus.
After signing with Universal Republic, Jessie J came to prominence following the release of her debut single, "Do It Like a Dude", which peaked at number two on the UK Singles Charts. In 2011, after topping the charts in nineteen countries including the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and New Zealand, with the song "Price Tag", she released her début album, Who You Are, which charted at number two in the UK. Other releases from the album included "Nobody's Perfect", "Who's Laughing Now" and "Who You Are", which all charted within the top 20 in the UK. Release of the fifth single, "Domino", resulted in further international chart success, peaking at number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and becoming her second UK number one. The seventh single released from Who You Are, "LaserLight", became the album's sixth top ten single, making her the first British female artist to have six top ten singles from a studio album. Her second album, Alive, was released on 23 September 2013 and reached the top 5 in the UK Albums Chart. An adapted version of the album is planned for release in the U.S. in 2014. Aside from her musical career, Jessie J served as coach and mentor on television show, The Voice UK.
Citing various influences, Jessie J is recognised for an unconventional musical and performance style that mixes soul vocals with contemporary R&B, pop, electropop, and hip-hop beats. Jessie J has garnered various awards and nominations for contributions to the music industry, including the 2011 Critics' Choice BRIT Award and the BBC's Sound of 2011. As of April 2012, Jessie J had sold over 11 million singles and 2.5 million albums, worldwide.
Jessica Ellen Cornish was born in Chadwell Heath, London, daughter of Stephen Cornish and Rose Cornish (née Archer). She was educated at Mayfield High School in the London Borough of Redbridge. She attended Colin's Performing Arts School and as an 11-year old-was cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End production of Whistle Down the Wind. She subsequently joined the National Youth Music Theatre and appeared in their 2002 production of The Late Sleepers. Jessie has two sisters, who are five and seven years older than she is, who were both head girls at school. Unlike her academic sisters, Cornish has stated she was "never really that good at anything". She said, "At school they were like 'oh, you're a Cornish girl' and they kind of expected me to be the same as my sisters. Give me something to draw or an outfit to pick for someone, or hair, make-up, acting, write a song, I'm fine with it, but anything to do with sums – it was never my thing." She also said she never based her intelligence on her exam results. She also said she was always good at singing and it was her "thing". In 2003, aged 15, she won Best Pop Singer in the TV show Britain's Brilliant Prodigies, performing as Jessica Cornish. At the age of 16 she began studying at the BRIT School and at 17 she joined a girl group named Soul Deep. She graduated in the class of 2006 along with singers Adele and Leona Lewis. At 18, she suffered a stroke as a result of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that had been diagnosed when she was 11.
2006–10: Career beginnings
Jessie J was signed to Gut Records, recording an album for the label, but the company went bankrupt before any material was released. She then found success as a songwriter, gaining a Sony ATV publishing contract. She was also the support act for Cyndi Lauper during Lauper's UK dates of her 2008 Bring Ya to the Brink tour (Lauper invited J to join her on stage for the performances of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"). Jessie has also written lyrics for artists such as Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus, including "Party in the U.S.A.". Jessie J was also part of a girl band, called Soul Deep, for two years, however she left due to thoughts that "it wasn't going anywhere". Despite people thinking that her first notoriety was through YouTube, Jessie was signed for four years before her first video was posted. Jessie first came to the attention of Lava Records when her publisher at Sony/ATV, Rich Christina, sent Lava president Jason Flom a link to her MySpace page, which the record executive loved. After seeing an impressive U.S. showcase, Lava was, along with several other labels, keen to sign the artist but progress was hampered by her management's insistence on, what Flom called, a "crazy deal", and their refusal to let Jessie speak to any labels directly. Despite this, Senior Director of A&R at Lava, Harinder Rana, made surreptitious efforts to meet Jessie on her own in winter of 2008. Later in the year a change in management to Sarah Stennett and Nadia Khan of Crown Music allowed record deal negotiations to take place. Jessie eventually signed with Lava as part of a joint venture with Universal Republic.
2010–12: Who You Are
Jessie J began recording her début studio album in 2005 and it was completed on 19 January 2011. She revealed that "Big White Room" would be on the album and was written from an experience she had when she was 11 years old, although she wrote the song at age 17, in hospital, where a ward mate, a little boy, died. Jessie J says the album's title track, "Who You Are", is one of her proudest creations, she said the song is a "positive role model for young people" and "I always say that I'm half-artist, half-therapist". A song called "Sexy Silk", which appears on the Easy A soundtrack, was originally going to be her first single. However, in late 2010 Jessie J released her first single, "Do It Like a Dude" which was co-written with George Astasio, Tj Normandin, Jason Pebworth, Jon Shave, Kyle Abrahams and Peter Ighile. Originally, she wrote the song with Rihanna in mind because "Rude Boy" was released at the time, partly inspiring the song. She then sent the song to her label, Island Records, before sending it to Rihanna's management. Island insisted the song become Jessie J's first single. She wishes to perform the song with Rihanna at one point. The single gained positive reception from critics. The single charted at number two on the UK Singles Charts. Her follow-up single "Price Tag" was released in late January 2011. This was written by Jessie J, Lukasz Gottwald, Claude Kelly, and Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. and charted at number one in the top of the charts. "Price Tag" was released in the United States on 1 February 2011 and peaked at 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Price Tag" also charted at number-one in New Zealand and Ireland and is the most successful online video J has released. As of October 2011, the video has generated over 148 million views on Youtube and Vevo, making it the 22nd most viewed music video of all time. Her first American television appearance was as the musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live on 12 March 2011.
On 25 February 2011 her début album, Who You Are, was released. The album first entered the charts on 6 March 2011 where it charted on the UK Album Charts at number two. The album charted into the top ten in a number of countries and number 11 in the United States. After the release she went on to release a third single from the album, "Nobody's Perfect".MTV reported that the single is, so far, only confirmed for release in the United Kingdom. The album's fourth single was "Who's Laughing Now". "Domino" was her second US single. The Dr. Luke-produced track was sent to mainstream radio on 6 September 2011. With the success of Who You Are in North America, Jessie was chosen to tour as the opening act for American pop artist Katy Perry's California Dreams Tour in 2011 but pulled out after breaking her foot in rehearsals. Jessie J served as the house artist at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, performing several of her original songs along with covers around commercial breaks.
James Morrison's third studio album, The Awakening features a collaboration with Jessie J called "Up", the song was released as a single on 4 December 2011. Jessie J re-released "Who You Are" on 9 November 2011, featuring the regular tracks plus "Domino" and two new songs. "Domino" became her first top 10 hit in the U.S., following the success of "Price Tag". The song also peaked at number 1 in January 2012 in the UK, before it was even officially released there.
With featured artist, David Guetta, Jessie J released the sixth single, "LaserLight", from her début album on 4 May 2012. In the United Kingdom, the song débuted at number twenty-six on the UK Singles Chart on the chart issue dated 21 April 2012, selling 12,100 copies. The following week the song climbed twenty-one positions to number five with sales of 38,983 copies., making it her sixth top ten single from one album. With the charting success, she became the first UK female solo artist to achieve six top-ten singles from a single studio album. The achievement was compared with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Michael Jackson, American recording artists who broke the same record. Boy band Take That received similar honours as a collective musical act. In September 2012 she appeared on the front cover of Notion magazine.
Jessie J was a coach on the BBC One program, The Voice UK for its first two series in 2012 and 2013.
On 31 January 2012, Jessie J announced that she had begun recording her second studio album. She also stated that she hopes to collaborate with many artists this year, possibly including some of her fellow coaches on The Voice. It was revealed that she has worked in the studio with CeeLo Green after he tweeted her on Twitter. Jessie has also revealed on Twitter that she has worked with Diane Warren as well as reuniting in the studio with her 'Price Tag' co-writer Claude Kelly. Via microblogging website, Twitter, Jessie J announced her first arena tour, called Nice to Meet You Tour, will begin in March 2013. For Queen Elizabeth II at her Diamond Jubilee Concert in London, Jessie performed a duet with will.i.am on 4 June 2012. Together, they performed "I Gotta Feeling", a song she previously recorded with the other four coaches of the televised singing competition, The Voice. After, Jessie J sang her international hit, "Domino". On 12 August 2012 she performed "Price Tag", "Written in the Stars", "Dynamite", and "You Should Be Dancing" with Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz, and "We Will Rock You" with Queen at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
On 26 May 2013, "Wild", the first single from Jessie J's second album, which features Dizzee Rascal and Big Sean, was released to iTunes. To help promote the song, Jessie performed at the Chime for Change event at Twickenham Stadium on 1 June 2013 alongside other artists including Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding, Florence + the Machine, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé. The second single, "It's My Party", received its first radio play on 5 August, and was released on 15 September 2013, peaking at number 3 in the UK Albums Chart. The track "Sexy Lady" from her upcoming album has been used in Boots' No.7 make-up TV advert, first aired on 8 August 2013. On 12 August 2013, Jessie premiered a new song, "Excuse My Rude", which will feature on the album and features Becky G.
She resigned as a coach of The Voice UK in July 2013 prior to the start of the third series and was replaced by Kylie Minogue. She cited the need to promote and tour for her second album. American singer Angela Miller was invited to join her during one of the shows.
On 17 August 2013, Jessie J announced that her second studio album, Alive, would be released on 23 September 2013 into the UK and to the rest of the world a day later. The album was available that same day for pre order on her official website. Following the release of Alive, it became Jessie J's second album to reach the top 5 in the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number 3.
Artistry and voice
"Domino" showcases Jessie J's use of melisma as well as her pop, hip hop, and R&B influences.
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Although Jessie J was first identified as a soul singer, she primarily records songs of R&B and pop music with hip hop influences. Music critic Matthew Perpetua of Pitchfork Media compared Jessie J to her peers Adele and Amy Winehouse, but suggested she was missing something: "Whereas Adele and Winehouse also have powerhouse voices, they fit into clear aesthetic niches and invest their songs with depth and humanity. Jessie J doesn't have even a fraction of their restraint." Perpetua added: "Her idea of showcasing her gift is to shoot for a blaring melisma on "Mamma Knows Best" that makes Christina Aguilera seem as subtle as Joni Mitchell by comparison."
Ailbhe Malone of the music magazine NME also recognised Cornish's "undeniably potent voice". However, she pointed out the possible "identity crisis" that might have been caused by Jessie's songwriter past: "This is an album of singles for other artists. There’s Rihanna Jessie ('Do It...'), Perry Jessie ('Abracadabra'), Pixie Jessie ('Mamma Knows Best'), Ellie Jessie ('Big White Room')." Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian shared her positive opinion about the singer, saying that "if any singer has the potential to be the British Katy Perry or Pink, with the accompanying millions of sales, it's her". Sullivan also complimented Cornish's attitude: "[Her songs] are delivered with a confidence that money can't buy." In spite of comparisons with Katy Perry, Jessie J has cited the singer as an inspiration, admiring her work ethic. She said, "Her hard work, her dedication, and how she deals with having the world stare at her every move, personally and professionally, with such dignity and strength, is inspiring." Inspiration aside, Jessie J calls herself a huge fan of Perry's music.
Entertainment Weekly's music critic Adam Markovitz said of Jessie: "The 23-year-old Brit has all the tools, from a monster voice to an ear for hooks — she co-wrote Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the U.S.A.' — and a manic persona that's equal parts Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, and Alice Cooper." Frank McClean from Metacritic stated: "She's definitely a soprano, a qualification that is easy to figure out by listening to her hit songs Mamma Knows Best and Who You Are. She's one of the best new artists in music industry by far". Devin Powell from Allmusic stated:"For those who doubt about her vocal range, it's been more than cleared on her song: "I Miss Her" from her second album, in which she hits high notes of A5".
Laura Gracehart from London Evening Standard stated: "Even Jessie J's 2nd album goes to a different way from the way she used to follow in her début album, this one really shows how good vocalist she is". Joseph Clerk from Virgin Media stated: "Jessie is really one of the best vocalist in this century, for sure, I mean she gets so excited while she sings her song: I Miss Her, that we can feel it too, it's so emotional and honest the way she delivers her gift and gratefully share it with all of us".
She has proved her wide vocal range in many live performances, such as her performance in finale of the 12th season of American Idol aside the contestant Angie Miller. They performed "Domino", and at the end of the song, Jessie hit a high note of G5, earning her a standing ovation from judge Nicki Minaj and the public recognition.
Jessie J calls her fans "heartbeats", after her Heartbeat Tour. Of her fans, she has said, "They're amazing, and they're the only reason I'm here at the VMAs and people know who I am," she told me. "They support me and buy my albums and singles, and they stand outside hotels, and they come to shows, and they get tattoos of my lyrics and they cut their hair like me. You have to love your fans. That's why I call them my Heartbeats, because without them I wouldn't be here."
In early 2011, Jessie J suffered a panic attack on stage after she was forced to perform in the dark. "I did a gig recently and had a panic attack on stage," she told NOW. "The night was called 'Black Out' and I had to perform in the dark. I asked them to turn on the lights and they didn't. I was onstage in pitch black and, because I couldn't see anything, I started to panic. It was awful."
Asked about her bisexuality in an interview on the "In Demand" radio show on 3 March 2011, Jessie J stated, "I've never denied it. Whoopie doo guys, yes, I've dated girls and I've dated boys – get over it." According to The Guardian, Jessie J's sexuality is valuable to young teens, especially for young girls unsure of themselves because of their sexuality and identity, to feel "that this does happen and this is normal." In April 2014, Jessie J renounced her bisexuality in an interview with Daily Mirror's "3am" celebrity tabloid; "For me, it was a phase. But I'm not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody", she said.
On 12 June 2011, at the Capital Radio Summertime Ball, Jessie ruptured several tendons in her foot during rehearsals, and performed her set the following day while sitting on a gilded throne. For her appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2011 on 25 June 2011, she performed on the throne again, stating that her doctor had told her not to perform with her broken foot which would take six weeks to heal. Jessie J was scheduled to play at several festivals throughout the summer, however it was reported on 1 July 2011 that she would not be able to attend T in the Park, T4 on the Beach, Wembley:Orange, iTunes Festival, Lovebox, and Oxegen due to the injuries to her foot. Jessie J personally tweeted before surgery; "Keep making nervous jokes with the doctor and he keeps looking at me blankly. Which is making me laugh even more. It's getting serious. I just took my nose stud out." Tweeting after the surgery, she wrote: "Can't keep tweeting. Still very dizzy and being sick. But I'm OK, I got through it." Her record label released an official statement on 30 June 2011 that under strict orders from her doctor, she would not be able to perform for a number of weeks so she can heal and recuperate properly. She returned to the concert circuit in late August, including sets at the V Festival and The Big Chill. For the 2011 VMA's she was still in a cast and using the throne to keep off it.
Jessie J confirmed on 2 August 2011 that she would be shaving her hair off for charity in 2012. Speaking via her official Twitter account she said: "It’s hair, It will grow back. Even if it takes 2 years, if it saves lives it’s worth it. Even if its 1 life that’s something." On 15 March 2013, Jessie's head was shaved live on Comic Relief, helping to raise a record breaking £75m for the charity. She is also a supporter of football club Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
- Who You Are (2011)
- Alive (2013)
- Stand Up Tour (2011)
- Heartbeat Tour (2011–12)
- Alive Tour (2013)
- Girls Aloud Tangled Up Tour (2008)
Awards and nominations
- discography at Discogs
- on YouTube
- at BBC Online