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Jade Alston: On Illness, Fashion, And Pursuing R&B Dreams

Ashley Velez |
April 3, 2014 | 11:16 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Singer-songwriter Jade Alston has always had an eye for fashion. (Ashley Velez)
Singer-songwriter Jade Alston has always had an eye for fashion. (Ashley Velez)
Jade Alston wants it all and she is so close to getting it.

The singer-songwriter walks into Philadelphia’s American Dreaming building in strappy nude heels, light blue jeans, a bold yellow cropped-top and a stylish cowboy hat. Her vivacious energy fills the room as she greets her good friend, Brandon Davis. He looks delighted to see that her animated demeanor has returned. She smiles and takes a look at herself in the mirror to make sure that the weather did not frazzle her style. 

She sits down and takes a deep breath as she prepares to discuss the life-changing experience that inspired her to pursue her first full music album titled, “We Will Live."

The fashionable singer is now on a countrywide tour with the soulful R&B artist, Marsha Ambrosius. This seemed like a distant dream when the then 26-year-old, spent a long, hot summer in the hospital for a serious heart condition.

The lively singer-songwriter almost had to say goodbye to her dream of becoming this generation’s Phyllis Hyman, when her heart of gold weakened and landed her in the hospital in June of 2013. Alston suffered from a heart condition called myopericarditis, a combination of myocarditis and pericarditis. The disease causes inflammation of the heart.

According to the Myocarditis Foundation, up to 20% of sudden death cases in young adults have been linked to it. Doctors could not pinpoint the reason why Alston got sick, but the disease is often linked to a viral infection.

“It’s almost like your heart has the flu or pneumonia or a really, really bad cold,” says Alston.

With the outpour of support on social media from her fans, friends, and family, Alston was able to beat the condition. The incident inspired Alston to launch a Kick Starter campaign so that she could finally start living out her dream and pursue her first full-length album. The fundraiser for “We Will Live” accrued over $7,600, which surpassed Alston’s goal by more than $4,000. 

“I’m a bubbly and lively person but to have to deal with something so sobering, you realize how short life is,” says Alston. 

Alston’s tightknit family took this time to nurse her back to health. Jasmine Alston, one of Jade’s younger siblings, never left her side throughout the frightening experience.

“My sister has been my best friend for my whole life,” says Alston. “I think she’s probably my only friend,” she says, as she looks down with a reflective gaze. “Strong contender for only friend,” she continued.

“More than anything I just want people to say, ‘She added beauty to the world,’ like the sun does and the clouds do and the flowers do,” says Jade. (Ashley Velez)
“More than anything I just want people to say, ‘She added beauty to the world,’ like the sun does and the clouds do and the flowers do,” says Jade. (Ashley Velez)

In an effort to keep busy after being released from the hospital, Jade and Jasmine founded the fashion blog, Jade and Jas. Alston attributes much of her creative success to her artistic little sister, who is a photographer. 

“She just gets me and she gets who I am as a person and what it means to be a weird creative mind who’s finding her way in life,” says Alston. 

Jasmine has always been honest with Jade, even when her dreams seemed to be a far reality. Jade remembers wanting to sing even when she thought that she did not have the talent and that she should stick to her academic goals. She feared that her deep vocals were not pretty enough to go far in music.

Still, Alston yearned to pursue a career in singing and has developed a voice that is now compared to R&B legends like Toni Braxton. 

Her free mixtapes, “Single On A Saturday Night” and “Sunday Morning: Single On A Saturday Night Pt. 2,” garnered attention from organizations like VIBE Vixen and The New York Times. The singer has toured with acts like Kelis, Fat Joe, and Melanie Fiona, and is currently on the “Friends & Lovers” tour with the talented and sultry Marsha Ambrosius.

Although Alston has a weak spot for Beyonce, like most young women her age, she dreams of creating smooth and timeless musical collaborations with acclaimed artists like Sade or John Mayer.  

Philadelphia has had a major influence on the singer’s musical style and edge. Her video for “Missing You Lately” used the city as a key character while also displaying Alston’s soft side. 

“Being from Philly gives you a certain rawness and I take that into my music because I always write about my real life,” she says. “It’s in the water, you’ve got to have some soul!” 

The grit that Alston attribute’s to her hometown is exactly what gets the singer through tough times as an independent artist. She explains that she and her team have to constantly search for funding for future projects, while also searching for artists who are willing to collaborate with fresh talent. Still, Alston welcomes the challenges that come along with independent artistry and views them as opportunities for growth. 

Alston’s team is working hard to help realize her dream. In an effort to lift her spirits, Alston’s team surprised her with a guest remix on her hit song “Missing You Lately,” from rapper, Roscoe Dash. Alston viewed this as a career milestone which gave even more life to her EP, “Single On A Saturday Night.”

She describes “Single On A Saturday Night” as the journey of a single woman. When asked what she learned on her journey, she explained that she learned how much heartbreak “sucks,” that love is not to be taken for granted, and that she is a dreamer. 

“I want it all,” she says. “I want to fall in love with my best friend and spend our lives together and raise beautiful children on a farm, maybe, if you can put a farm in a city that would be ideal,” she exclaimed with a romantic look in her eyes. 

Alston hopes to show her love for acoustics on her debut album. When she is not working on her album, or modeling for Forman Mills Fashion, Alston enjoys having fun and watching shows like “Sex And The City”. She draws a lot of her inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw and compares herself to the character, a young woman who follows her dreams in a big city. A recent television show character that Alston hilariously relates to is Piper from “Orange Is The New Black.” She tells the story of when she was jailed overnight in Atlanta for unknowingly driving with a suspended license. 

Jade Alston and Marsha Ambrosius will perform at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on April 19th. (Ashley Velez)
Jade Alston and Marsha Ambrosius will perform at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on April 19th. (Ashley Velez)

“I connected with the woman’s story because she shouldn’t have been in jail and she is in jail and it’s a great story!” she says. “It reminded me of my 8 hour stay in jail and it made me feel like… ‘I earned my thug credentials, have you?’” she laughs.

The silly and soulful singer has a long journey ahead of her but she is well on her way. Now 27, she has already affected the lives of fans everywhere with her raw and honest music. 

“More than anything I just want people to say, ‘She added beauty to the world,’ like the sun does and the clouds do and the flowers do,” she says. “I really believe that our most basic purpose in life is to be as beautiful as the world around us.”

Her flowers are just beginning to bloom. All she needs is a little more spotlight.

Contact Staff Reporter Ashley Velez here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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