Jordin Sparks may have been 17 when she came into your consciousness via your TV screen, but she was a professional triple threat long before she took the “American Idol” crown. “I was 7 years old when I knew I loved to sing,” the Grammy®-nominated film and Broadway star reflects. “But when I saw Kelly Clarkson win, I was 11. I told my mom I wanted to do that”. At that point, she was already singing in church and acting in community theater in her native Phoenix, Arizona. The little girl with the really big voice appeared on “America’s Most Talented Kids” at 14 and was touring with contemporary Christian megastar Michael W. Smith as his background singer a year later.
“It’ll be eight years since I won,” recalls Jordin. “I’m not a little kid anymore. I am a woman. On ‘Idol’ they saw me, and for a lot of people, that was the last time they saw me. What I want people to know is that I’m maneuvering my way through the craziness that we call life, too.” Jordin has been at this for a long time, even though she’s only 25. And with her new album “Right Here, Right Now,” coming Spring 2015 on Louder Than Life/Sony, she’s truly living in the moment.
“I met Salaam while I was filming ‘Sparkle’; he was scoring the film. We recorded together, too, and one time, he pulled me aside and asked me what my favorite song was. I told him ‘All The Things Your Man Won’t Do’ by Joe. That took him aback and made him realize there was something more to me. Salaam was the first person to ask me what I really wanted to do musically; what I wanted my music to sound like.” A short time later, the Grammy®-nominated producer who has recorded with everyone from Lauryn Hill and Miguel to Nas and the late Amy Winehouse was at Sony with a new label of his own. He asked Jordin to join his roster. “It was destined for us to work together,” Jordin says with her warm, infectious smile. “With Salaam giving me that freedom, everything just flowed.”
And by “everything,” Jordin means 13 tracks of grown woman reflection, transformation, and liberation. Though her personal tastes range from the big hair bands of the ‘80s (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Journey) to Etta James and Patsy Cline (thanks to her grandparents), “Right Here, Right Now” is an expression of the contemporary R&B and power vocals that she connects with most. In the tradition of the vocal powerhouses she admires like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Jordin has reinvented her sound for her third studio release. The pop success that brought her to the fore has given way to a bold, soulful aesthetic that pulses with sensuality and a newfound confidence, all of which Jordin has embraced in her personal life.
After her life-changing star turn in “Sparkle,” where she acted and recorded with Houston, who, as executive producer on the film, hand-selected Jordin for the role after conquering Broadway as the star of “In The Heights,” she embarked on a personal makeover. Jordin left the comfort of her hometown for Los Angeles. She transformed her body through a rigorous regimen of diet and training that landed her the cover of People Magazine’s Most Amazing Bodies Issue in 2011. “I hit Broadway and wasn’t taking care of myself,” says Jordin. “I found out I had walking pneumonia, and the light bulb went off. I should not be sitting down every fourth step because I can’t breathe. Once my lungs recovered, I started slowly, with walking then hiking and classes, then training.” Five years later, Jordin is at her zenith and ready for her next takeover.
“I got to make music that I love to listen to. I didn’t know if this opportunity would come again; it’s been six years since my last project. I wanted to encourage young women and empower them, but also let my fans know that I am right there with them, through the heartbreaks and mistakes. The self-assurance from surviving it all shines through on the album as well on songs like “It Ain’t You” featuring 2Chainz and “Gasoline,” where Jordin sings “he ain’t goin’ anywhere/’cause he knows he got the best right here/I’m premium/can’t treat me like I’m regular.”
“I have a deep emotional connection to all the songs, especially ‘Tell Him That I Love Him,’ a power ballad where a woman is talking to the other woman,” muses Jordin. “I love how different the vocal of the title track is from what we hear today.”
Fresh off the buzz ignited by her mixtape #ByeFelicia, “Right Here, Right Now” will deliver on the promise Jordin has kept to her fans since day one: To make music that touches people, wherever they are on life’s rollercoaster. “I hope people are enjoying getting to know me. I am going to keep growing and keep singing, and I hope they join me for the ride.” Buckle up. Jordin Sparks will fly — Right Here, Right Now.