When no one believes in your dreams but you, it can get pretty lonely. Some people give up eventually, tired of the struggle. Others, like Ms. Jade
, stick to their guns, stick it out, and triumph. These days she's on top with a recording contract and lots of people are listening to her music. Not too long ago, however, she had to decide whether she would listen to the dream inside her or to the criticism that came from outside sources. Those who didn't believe in her dream advised her to give it up and find "a regular job," such as working for the city of Philadelphia, where she was born and raised in the Nicetown section. Or, they suggested, maybe she should use that certificate she had earned from a Center City beauty school. Neither option appealed to the would-be rapper. Things were looking bleak when she stumbled upon India.Arie
's Acoustic Soul
. On a friend's recommendation, she took note of one song especially, "Strength, Courage, and Wisdom." The song sparked one of those light-bulb moments, electrifying the aspiring artist with a renewed sense of purpose.
Until that moment, things looked bleak. When she tried to get a foot in the door of the music world, the only thing she found was more negativity. Being from Philly, she heard the inevitable comparisons to another hometown girl who had made good in the music business, Eve
. Why, she was asked, would they need another Philly girl? Ms. Jade
was good, but she felt that she could be too, in her own way. She kept chasing her elusive dream until she finally found someone who was willing to give her a chance. That someone was 215 Entertainment's Terrance Glasgow. He brought her to Missy Elliott
in Manhattan, where she demonstrated what she could do. Impressed, Elliott
picked up the phone and got Timbaland
in on the act. Soon Philly's Chevon Young
was renamed Ms. Jade
, and she had a contract with Timbaland
's Beat Club Records.
During her childhood, Ms. Jade
liked the rock songs put out by Pat Benatar
. Before turning ten, however, she had discovered Janet Jackson
. She committed all of the songs to memory and went on to perform them in talent competitions at her school. Before she'd hit her teens, she discovered the work of Queen Latifah
and MC Lyte
. Later, Ms. Jade
took top honors in a high school talent competition with "How Could You Call Her Baby," a number that had been featured in the film Waiting to Exhale. Before she took home her diploma in 1997, she had become a fan of the Notorious B.I.G.
, Foxy Brown
, Lil' Kim
, and Mase
. For a time, she earned cash by peddling knock offs of designer handbags.