With the turn of the decade, Toronto has emerged as a major musical hub, producing the likes of Drake, The Weeknd, and dvsn among others. However, the male dominated music scene is about to experience some refinement with the arrival of a new soul-baring songstress: Jessie Reyez.
Hailing from the Brampton and North York regions of Toronto, the Colombian singer-songwriter’s original passion was hip-hop dancing; this eventually changed as the pain from a high school romance turned her attention to music. Penning her own material and performing around the streets and clubs of Toronto, Jessie’s music proved to be therapeutic as she was making a splash on the local music scene. Her musical success, nonetheless, was halted when Jessie’s family moved to Miami after their American visas were finally approved after a long 18 years.
After relocating, Jessie quickly took to bartending to make a decent earning but the emptiness from Miami’s never ending party atmosphere began to take a toll on her. Inspired to reignite her musical career, Jessie recruited a friend to help her shoot a music video for a song she recorded before leaving Toronto. After editing the video by herself and later releasing it to Facebook, a viewer referred her to The Remix Project – a Toronto based initiative committed to exposing marginalized youth to the creative arts. Jessie’s acceptance into the program and return to Toronto was instrumental in placing her focus back on music and ultimately receiving her big break.
In 2014, Jessie Reyez stumbled upon The Remix Project’s founder Gavin Sheppard playing her song “Status” to Chicago rapper King Louie, who instantly fell in love with the track and expressed that he wanted to work with her before heading back home. After an impromptu jam session, their collaboration track “Living in the Sky” was born. Reyez continues to express her gratitude for the rapper’s support, stating “Chicago wouldn’t have known about me then if it wasn’t for him and I’m forever grateful.”
Since then, Jessie Reyez has been developing her debut solo project. In August of last year, she premiered the music video for her first single “Figures,” which was produced by Priest and the Beast. The minimalist visual – featuring the singer sitting in a chair and emotionally belting over the mellow guitar strings – has garnered nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube thus far and brought considerable attention to Reyez as the next breakout star from Toronto.
Reyez’ latest track “Shutter Island” – released earlier this year – is a testament to songstress’ growth, vocally and artistically. Thematically similar to “Figures” as both reveal the singer’s post-breakup grief, “Shutter’s Island” is much less apologetic and even more intense. Its terror-inducing music video displays Jessie singing entrapped in a straitjacket in a glass box as she admittedly chants “You say that I’m too crazy, I guess you were right.”
Although there is no set release date, Jessie Reyez’ debut EP seems imminent. The singer’s raw and honest lyrics coupled with her powerful voice is helping establish her as a major up-and-coming artist who you should definitely look out for in 2017.