Ja’Shayla: “Determine your own standard of success”

Determine your own standard of success. Don’t let your family or the outside world measure your success for you because it is likely to cause you to burn out and end up depressed. Figure out what makes you happy and build from there. That doesn’t mean be complacent. It just means that there are phases […]

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Determine your own standard of success. Don’t let your family or the outside world measure your success for you because it is likely to cause you to burn out and end up depressed. Figure out what makes you happy and build from there. That doesn’t mean be complacent. It just means that there are phases in life for each of us to enjoy and grow. Allow yourself time to grow and pace yourself along the journey. Something I learned along the way.


As a part of our series about music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ja’Shayla.

A self-trained singer-songwriter, Ja’Shayla has performed for over 100M viewers worldwide. Having appeared on notable networks like Univision, Bravo TV, BET and MTV, her seasoned experience shines both on camera and on stage. When she’s not performing, Ja’Shayla stays busy penning songs for artists like Beatrix Ramosaj from Dancing with the Stars Albania. Inspired by the incomparable Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Ja’Shayla has mastered more than a six-octave range. Writing since age 7 and recording since 13, Ja’Shayla has also mastered the art of engineering her own recording sessions as well as for other artists. Her incredible range of talents has solidified her as an artist to watch and “Body Roll” introduces raw fun-loving energy that is sure to attract listeners from all walks of life.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I think I had a pretty great childhood. I mean I think I turned out ok LOL. My mom is amazing so I can honestly say I have a lot to be grateful for looking back. I was born in Toledo, Ohio which is close to Detroit, Michigan, and for some reason that makes me feel like I’m kind of cool. Lol I don’t know… maybe. I definitely had a lot of great music in my life growing up near the original Motown. My mom’s favorite artist is Stevie Wonder, the genius that he is, so that was a major influence on me. My parents were pretty strict so even though I sang my whole life they kept me focused on being educated and not just a pretty face. I was an only child growing up, so they had to keep me busy considering I was always full of energy. I played every sport imaginable, and being a tomboy it was pretty common to find me climbing a tree or hooping with the boys even in a dress. I played the tenor saxophone for many years in the marching band and jazz band, where I also doubled as the jazz singer. When I wasn’t running track, playing basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball, or performing with the band, then I was probably singing in the church choir. Choir was everything to me! I guess that’s why the gospel is my favorite genre of music. It gave me the opportunity to sing with all of my heart and being the emotional creature that I am, which truly made me feel whole. I’m extremely grateful for my upbringing because although we weren’t rich or anything, my mom worked hard to make sure I didn’t miss out. We traveled, so I was exposed to other parts of the world. I spent a lot of time with my family and I love my connection with them. The values my family instilled in me centered around God, family and setting a great example. I distinctly remember moments when my parents drilled into me how important it was to be a leader and not a follower. I think that really stuck with me and helped me through my awkward phases. Because when I didn’t fit in, I didn’t cry in a corner over it. Instead, I made even more of an effort to stick out and be original. I decided to rock my own style and not care about others. When I was super skinny with big feet people made fun of me because the other girls were starting to develop. It wasn’t easy because of course, I wanted the boys to like me too, but I remained confident and maintained good grades and now look at me! Haha (that’s me having the last laugh LOL).

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have literally sung my entire life. I was and continue to be a noise box. I’m loud, silly and even as a baby I hummed myself to sleep. My aunt used to make me audition before going to preschool every day. I truly believe that everything lined up for me to become a singer. Music heals me. When I need to be closer to God, I sing or listen to music. No matter how much I have tried I cannot escape music and singing.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The crazy thing is I took a hiatus from releasing music for several years. I spent some time using my gift solely for praise and worship because singing for God felt so pure and fulfilling. At the time my music was not reaching anyone and I lost a sense of what my music was about. I had focused so much and worked myself into a place where I needed to stop and recover. So the most interesting story of my career is this rebirth, this comeback if you will. My current single, Body Roll is the first song I have released in years, and what’s funnier is that it follows the year I had my first baby and lost my best friend. 2020 was a doozy for most of the world but for me, I finally said it was time to start my family and God agreed. I have always wanted a family but did not want it to get in the way of my career, so I pushed that dream to the side for years. This was finally the moment I would prioritize my family over music.

During my hiatus, I continued to work, write and record. I had always planned to release more music, but I wanted it to be right. I told myself that the next time I released something I was betting all of my chips. It had to be all or nothing and I was going to do it bigger and better than ever before! So fast forward to 2020, I’m 8 months pregnant and I get the worst news I could imagine. My best friend Dj Amanda Blaze died. Being that I already lost my childhood best friend the year before my wedding, I started to feel cursed or something. The feeling of losing everyone and everything I cared about just hovered over my head. I felt like it had to be all my fault. Who has that happened to them twice? Well, I have no idea how I came out of that, and my baby was born on time, healthy, and strong. Now my baby is a year old, and I have not only jumped full swing back into music, but I feel so connected and proud of my material. Many people gave up on me and figured that I had quit music, but I am so happy that I did exactly the opposite! I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I have a whole album to share and I am just getting started, AGAIN!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My funniest mistake has to be when I had the opportunity to go to one of the biggest DJs’ birthday parties. I was super excited! I didn’t have fancy expensive clothes or anything, but I made something work. I looked decent and I was at the best table in the place, with the birthday boy, so I truly enjoyed myself. This party was the who’s who of the music and entertainment industry. Well if you Google that birthday party, one of the main photos that come up (actually the main photo to this day SMH) is me with my mouth wide open, looking super crazy LOL having the best time of my life! You may not think that’s funny or a mistake, but if you see the photo, I’m sure you will laugh too! I shake my head every time I see it because it could’ve been such an epic and cute pic! Oh well, I know to stay ready now!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m extremely excited to finalize and release my very first album! The album is 90% done. I’m so grateful to work with great friends who have been my friends for years! They are all super talented like Victorious Universe. I’m also bringing in some multi-platinum producers like Taiwan “Mr. Fingaz” Green and Sleep Deez on the project. I have put out mixtapes and singles many times before, but this is my first album of all original material. I wrote every song and recorded all but 2 songs myself, so this is a special project for me. This has been a huge goal for me for a very long time.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity and inclusion in TV and Film is a very big deal. People like to shrug it off like, “Oh stop complaining” but when we are still having ‘first black this’ and ‘that’ in 202, that should tell you something. The significance of TV and Film literally equates to our need to see ourselves included in the world. Not only do we need to see ourselves, but it is absolutely vital that Caucasian people see us in TV and Film. Otherwise, for some, it is very easy to pretend we do not exist, which opens more doors to create more Karens of the world. I think this also has a lot to do with how America often devalues POC which then somehow cultivates the disproportionate mistreatment and murder of Black men and women by law enforcement officers. By expanding the types of roles that actors of color take on, our children can see themselves as a superhero, like Black Panther. That movie was a HUGE deal for our community because finally, our children saw themselves as someone great and exceptional, the hero. It was a whoa moment because finally, they could say, “He looks like me!”

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Determine your own standard of success. Don’t let your family or the outside world measure your success for you because it is likely to cause you to burn out and end up depressed. Figure out what makes you happy and build from there. That doesn’t mean be complacent. It just means that there are phases in life for each of us to enjoy and grow. Allow yourself time to grow and pace yourself along the journey. Something I learned along the way.
  2. Don’t live on excitement. This journey has a lot of ups and downs. Be excited yes but don’t let the quiet or down moments rip you apart. It all works together for what is truly meant for you! This is also something I learned along the way. I have been blessed to have a lot of great highlights, but I would get so concerned when I didn’t have something big going on. Now I know better.
  3. Write and record as much as you can so that you can always have follow-up material. You never know when something will hit and you have to follow behind that to maintain momentum. I was blessed to have a remix do really well and I had no idea what to do when it popped. Lesson learned.
  4. Live life and let those experiences play out. Sometimes we can get too focused and forget to live. You never know where your experiences lead you so just do you. Also, who knows what kind of amazing material your experiences can turn into as a writer and creative thinker. I guess I was a bit too focused at times so I would postpone love and family stuff. I did not vacation much at all. I learned the grind gets tough so it’s crucial to stay connected to your village and enjoy life.
  5. Brush it off and keep going. People will always have something to say, so the only thing that really matters is whether you actually listen to them. With social media and the amount of access people have today, it is inevitable that as artists we will at some point internalize what people think and say. It is extremely important that we have some form of mental rehab to bounce back. Otherwise, this is a huge silent killer. I had a music video on Worldstar and I decided to read the comments. Oh boy, what a mistake because I was not prepared. Someone wrote that I needed facial reconstruction and while I knew that was absolutely ridiculous, I still replayed the comment in my head over and over. I questioned myself aka letting them get into my head. Big NO NO!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

All of the above and add these two key things: Get the right help. If you find a team or a person that gels with you and helps you make things happen, stick with them. You really shouldn’t attempt to do this all on your own. Second, figure out budgeting for your projects as early on as possible and be sure to make marketing a priority. These will keep you going without stretching yourself so thin that you feel overwhelmed.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Time and health are probably the most valuable because we can never get time back and health really makes all the difference in our quality of life. Additionally, I think we have all learned from the pandemic what it feels like to be isolated and unable to physically be with loved ones. So if I could I would create a trend/movement that inspired group workouts and healthy cooking lessons so that friends, lovers and relatives etc. could share in maintaining/regaining a healthy lifestyle that fosters both relationships and healthy habits. The fun element I would add is a dope location to make it exclusive, like a private island or unique spot where people could spend a week focused on working out together and learning to cook new things and eating right. I’m a foodie so the cooking and eating part is definitely important to me.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Amanda Guzman aka DJ Amanda Blaze aka DJ Blazita was my bestie. We initially met through a producer who we both knew. I don’t specifically remember our first encounter all those years ago, but we were inseparable thereafter. Most people knew me because of her and she made sure I was prepared for anything in the entertainment world. If there is anyone I’m grateful for who I can definitely say helped me get here, it’s her. She was the one who let me know if a song was good when it was ready and if it was mixed properly. She was involved in everything, and she always gave it to me straight, no sugar coating. As besties, we did pretty much everything together, but she took me under her wing. I went to her award ceremonies and performed with her. She added me to her mixtapes and played my songs on whatever radio or club set she had. This helped me beyond measure. Unfortunately, she passed away last year which was devastating. She never heard “Body Roll”. But just like my other videos and songs she would have been heavily involved in the rollout, so I asked her son Jalen to bring her equipment and honor her legacy as the Dj for the video, rocking a vintage “Team Blazita” shirt.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I think my favorite Life Lesson Quote would have to be “Be good to and do good for others. It always comes full circle.” I guess that’s pretty similar to “treat people like you want to be treated.” I have found that among the most influential things that have helped me along the way is connecting with and loving people. Not in a way that you’re doing nice things just to get something back, but in general, being a good person who cares about others. I can use my current team for example. I have known and been friends with them for many many years. Nurturing those relationships has not only been a pleasure, but it also fed into my career like no other because they truly care and want the best for me. Even casual relationships help if you’re good to people. Obviously, there are bad people in the world but aligning with the great ones makes a world of difference.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Lizzo

I would like to have a private brunch with Lizzo. I think she has so much personality! She and I would have so much fun together! She’s beautiful and silly. We both make fun of ourselves and get emotional even though we’re tough chicas who have been through a lot. I think we could make some incredible fire music together and go crack jokes afterward lol. Well, at least that’s what I see in my mind lol.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @msjashayla

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/JSsuperstar

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MsJaShayla

Twitter: @jashayla

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/msjashayla

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4vcuuxefDenUjrpKPfseFY?si=CHuCaIgxSjKBYd5fNzfBLA&dl_branch=1

Website: www.JaShayla.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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