There are no mirrors or tricks here, no sleight of hand. When J. Holiday talks earnestly of “following my dreams” and “being in love with music,” it’s not a deliberately sympathetic portrayal by a partial writer. In fact, J.’s talent is matched -in rarity and intensity—only by his enthusiasm. His candor and vulnerability are refreshing, given the static, formulaic state of R&B. The question most are asking, though, is where did J. Holiday come from?
The answer is short, but runs deep: D.C. And while D.C.’s trademark sounds breed musicianship- “so many talented cats playing go-go or in church”—the city remains untapped. But it’s home, and home, for J. Holiday, is where the art is. He was born into a musical family; mother Frances, one of 11 siblings, sang gospel with her 5 sisters, while his older sister supplied backing vocals for Crystal Waters. “Music was always around me and I just wanted to do it,” he recalls. But his first performances were as much coercion as inspiration: “When I was nine, ten years old, my older male cousins would always tell me to sing to girls passing by on the street. It was later that I realized they were exploiting me.” So by age ten, J. Holiday was finding his voice. Within a year, however, he was struggling to find his way. “My Pops died when I was eleven,” he states flatly. “He was sick and didn’t tell anybody. Not even my Mom. She never knew what was going on until he died.”