The Songs of Black Folk: “Old Redford” x Jada Nycole Ellise
Jada Nycole Ellise is a fixture in the Neo-Soul and R&B revival movement. The Detroit born, Atlanta based artist is the descendant of a long line of African-American musicians and storytellers. Growing up, her family was very involved in music, and she took a lot of inspiration from women in Jazz such as Meshell Ndegeocello and Esperanza Spalding. Listening to Jada, their impact is clear. She is a multi-instrumentalist composer, who can layer tracks seamlessly. When asked how she does it, Jada says “[i]t just depends on the day, how I’m feeling and where I am. When I get a certain idea…I’ll hear it on a specific instrument and I’ll try to lay it down on that first attempt. ”
Jada’s anticipated release of single, “Old Redford,” came on February 26th, 2021 with an accompanying lyric video. “Old Redford” is a calming, yet upbeat jazz tune. The rolling verses are peppered with warm, soothing background vocals. In the track, she references the South and the spiritual connection that she has with her ancestors. This theme continues in the lyric video, where she includes some archival footage of iconic Black figures. When asked about the inspiration for “Old Redford,” Jada says “[t]his video was very special to me because I just wanted to be sure that even though it was a lyric video, I did give some historical context and I paid homage to a lot of the Detroit greats and… people that people didn’t know were from Detroit. Like Della Reese, she was born in Detroit’s Black Bottom. So just making sure that I tapped into what Detroit really is, rather than allowing people to keep feeling that they have a preconceived notion about what they were told Detroit is.”
This Black History Month, as the one year anniversary of the release of “Old Redford” approaches, we celebrate Jada and the Black musicians who connect us with our pasts. You can stream, “Old Redford,” on @_theaux’s Soothing Sounds Playlist or watch the lyric video below.
For those looking to pursue music Jada has some words of wisdom for you all: “Just do it. Whatever you feel you want to go after, take some time to think it out but don’t take too long. Practice and study your craft a lot and don’t give up even when it seems like you should.”
This article was written by student and music writer, Adrianna Maxwell.
More about Adrianna: The 20 something year old is from the Chicagoland area and grew up immersing herself in the Black music tradition. From house music at family gatherings to hearing gospel music during Sunday service, Adrianna shares a special and intimate relationship with music. Currently, she is finishing up her studies at Brown University studying International and Public Affairs and Africana Studies. You can find her on twitter or stanning Janet Jackson instead of writing her essays. She hopes to one day be able to support Black musicians as they navigate this ever changing musical landscape.