Six of Saturns is our annual ode to the sounds, visions and fabled collaborative spirit of the Crescent City. For two weeks during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival we gather to revel in the beats of the bayou, its musical legacy and commune with stage legends + artists of every feather. No two artists could be more reflective of this spirit than Nola born Teedra Moses and The Artist Jade who share the stage on April 29th, SoS’s inaugural weekend. Teedra’s tracks like “Be Your Girl” and “Take Me” featuring Raphael Saadiq are R&B staples and as a Grammy-Nominated Songwriter, she’s written for other artists including, Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Kelly Rowland, Kaytranada and more.
A multi-hyphenate creative, Jade makes music and visual art that can be seen gracing buildings throughout the city. Growing up as a kid listening to Teedra’s tracks on Myspace, she was struck that she was from her hometown. So when she got the call that Teedra had tapped her to play the show, she was floored.
The two ignite in conversation in advance of the show, talking Prince, gospel and more; eliciting joy, tears and goosebumps in an amalgam of true New Orleans spirit.
All photography by Justen Williams.
ACE: First off, a question for both of you: How has New Orleans informed your work respectively?
TEEDRA: It has definitely been a part of my work. Because I left New Orleans when I was 14 and I didn’t leave because I wanted to leave, I left because my mother was leaving my father. So I was forced to leave and move to LA which is a great place and I had a lot of great things happen for me.
But it never felt like home, so I held on to a lot of my accent as much as I could, I held on to my way of thinking and my realness, all the things that I got from this city.
And I think on my debut album, though my music didn’t sound anything like it was New Orleans, the musicians or anybody that weren’t from New Orleans, I think the personality of the writing you could hear. Now I think it’s more common that people write songs how they speak but in that time it wasn’t as common to write songs from a perspective of realness and how you actually speak. That, more than anything has been the influence of New Orleans.
You know, we’re not docile. We party! We really party, we drink, I go onstage with Hennesy, like, it’s a party. And I think these things are the New Orleans in me.
TEEDRA: You can’t pay your bills, have a block party, everybody gonna come.
JADE: It’s really like that! It’s funny, but it’s really like that. I just got inspired to do art and to do music and just be free in creativity. And having a family that supports you through that. My household was like, “Whatever you want to do. You wanna go to Mars? How we gonna get you there.” Just having that type of supportive New Orleans family and just that creativity and resilience through everything, I think it keeps all creatives going.
ACE: You’ve both been active since you were really young, it makes sense you’ve got supportive family networks. Can you recall a point in time where you can remember the first song that really meant something to you?
JADE: YES. When I was a kid, maybe 5 or 6. That’s when I remember the songs that I really liked. And for me it was SWV. I’m a 90s baby! So for me, that group was on in our house. SWV, Toni Braxton, Bob Marley, that type of music I think it just shaped the artist I am today or who I’m developing into being. It was very real during those times. But SWV specifically.
TEEDRA: I remember being in the car with my cousin Brenda. I was really little the first time I heard Prince. And it just was very interesting to me — I heard Prince and I thought he was saying “count your blessings” – but he was saying “controversy” — so i used to be in the car as a little kid, going “Count your blessings!”
That’s when I really connected with music on my own. And to this day, I’m always more interested in the true artist. When you have a vision for yourself, I’m always more drawn to that. And I knew, that by the time I got into my mid-teenage years that I wanted to be an artist. I thought about the first artist that ever intrigued me, and that was Prince, so I just wanted to be distinctively myself. That was my first time really being turned on by music.
The Greatest Of All Time. And it’s not up for debate.
ACE: So, Jade, on your side, you’ve got music + visual art, is there one that feels to you like your primary medium?
JADE: I can’t. I think both of them. I chose to explore one of them more deeply as a kid. Because I was so shy and reserved. Art is so intimate. And you don’t have to do it in front of people. Music, I’m like,”turn the lights out, I’m turning around and you can’t see me sing.”
TEEDRA: That’s how I started out! I used to turn my back to the crowd and sing.
JADE: Ohhh, that’s crazy, so you totally understand.
TEEDRA: I totally understand, I also understand that you doing art as an artist — you can do that independently, music — you have to do with other people. which is a hard thing for me, because I have to trust people. I envy, it. That sounds amazing.
JADE: This is crazy. How much I’m saying — that you’ve been there. And I think that’s why, maybe, you did pick me.
TEEDRA: The first time I heard your voice on the phone, I think I was like, wow, I just knew it. Just instant. It’s in your voice, how you use your hands, your instagram. You’re honest. I’m drawn to honest art. And you’re SO New Orleans. I think this is how I’d be if I grew up here my whole life.
You’re culture. You’re a GREAT product of New Orleans. And I’m very proud that I get to share the stage with you. And I mean that.
ACE: Teedra, how did you learn about Jade?
TEEDRA: Instagram! [DJ] RQ Away — they’ll put me onto some things. When I really got into her, I was looking at her IG. I am pro anything New Orleans that is dope. Anything. I meet someone in any part of the world, I could be all the way in Europe, if I meet someone from New Orleans, it’s on. I didn’t want to leave. I was forced out of this place.
Jade is one of the artists, that I came across just from searching. There is so much really amazing talent bubbling here in this bowl. Because nobody has to pass through here. They have to pass through Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, all these bigger cities. You don’t have to come through New Orleans. So when I see someone doing something excellent, especially when they can do it to a level where it starts to branch out of New Orleans, I’m so proud, because I know you’re just in a bowl and there’s not a lot to pass through here to discover.
ACE: So in a way – you are acting as an advocate- you’re coming from a perspective where you’ve got the roots and opening that door for someone who’s coming up.
TEEDRA: You need people to say your name. A person saying my name – when someone says, “Teedra’s first album was the best album” – streams go up crazy. I want to say the names of people that actually have talent.
JADE: That’s so special and it says a lot about, like, how you were raised, the person that you are. Because so many people will not say your name.
ACE: Jade, for you — had you been aware of Teedra as an artist? Can you speak to your perspective on her art and the impact it’s had on you?
JADE: Alright, this is funny. Because we were downstairs kind of having a quick conversation, but I remember being — I don’t know how old I was) on Myspace — and that’s where I heard your music. It was “Be Your Girl”. This is a famous woman from New Orleans! But we never see you.
TEEDRA: After I moved there, I never said I was from Los Angeles. And people would get mad. But I can’t explain it, I am from this place. I’m going to live all different kind of places, but I am from here. This is the base, this is what I connect to. And it hurts me sometimes that people don’t know. People think I’m from LA or NY but people don’t know.
So to hear you say that you knew me younger makes me happy because I felt like people in New Orleans didn’t know it.
JADE: The thing is, Teedra led with her talent very young. Whether you did it intentionally or not. When you saw Teedra, you didn’t see a hyper sexual artist. You saw a songstress. So I think that, seeing that very young is so impactful. Because to this day, we don’t see you, we are women so we are going to be feminine and sexy, but I don’t want to have to do things that I thought you had to do to be accepted. There are certain things. But I’m talking about the image.
You are seen before you are heard now. To me, being a person that is a visual learner, you lead with your talent. You are a woman but you still lead with your talent. I think that is one of the most impactful things about you, Teedra.
TEEDRA: Thank you, so much.
ACE: Teedra, you’re back in your hometown. Do you have anything special planned for the show?
TEEDRA: Really to be honest, I don’t play here often, y’all don’t pay me. But y’all did this time! So I really want to do the show I do. I like to party — but at the same time I like to sing. I have a lot of mid tempo songs, I have a lot of songs that are slower, I grew up on R&B soul music so that’s the only thing I know how to give. So I think it’s going to be unique because I don’t get to do it here.
ACE: Jade, I want you to talk to me about visual art and how the library project came to fruition.
JADE: Visual art is one of my mediums and the library project came about — I did one mural and that project opened up a lot of opportunity and gave me a larger platform, it automatically pushes you into that atmosphere. It started off as one project and then it’s blossomed into two.
It was a great project. It was my largest project to scale. And I think it changed me as a person, because I was just like, on the street, in the midst of everybody on the daily, in the struggle. Having to like, fight my own mind, it made me a stronger person and stronger artist.
ACE: Do you think that the things that you learned from that translated to singing as well?
JADE: Yes, because it just shows me like if you really want to be an artist, you have to put in overtime. Just doing, isn’t enough. If you really want it, you have to study, you have to learn, you have to be a student. To the game. And I think I just — it’s humbling too. It doesn’t come easy. To come back to the call, once I got that call, I’m like. It just felt like – hey I’m going, fire follow up, coming from the mural and then going and opening for Teedra. It’s a beautiful thing.
TEEDRA: When you are doing the murals, do you listen to any type of music? How do you vibe up?
JADE: I listen to a lot of gospel music.
TEEDRA: That’s so hard! I love it. I’mma be honest, I grew up in the church, but I rarely listen to gospel. I’m always seeking secular music because I’m always trying to see what’s out there.
I love gospel. That’s the first place I learned how to sing. It was Coco and God’s Property.
Some amazing singers. That’s how I learned harmony. I really love God but I think I’ve gotten so much more spiritual. Religion and spirituality are different. Spirituality is one on one with God. You and God and spirituality. It’s alignment. That’s how I am with my spirituality. I work very hard to stay aligned.
You know how I know I’m not aligned? Shit be out of line. It all goes haywire. That’s not a coincidence. When you talking about the mural and the call about the show comes, girl, you are in alignment. You’re in alignment. People wanna chase this, hustle that. But if you really just stay with God, I did but I didn’t do it consciously. Now I’m doing it consciously.
To be honest with y’all I don’t go hard like I used to. Because I don’t want to run around all the time. I’ve missed a lot of enjoying life trying to get somewhere. So, you enjoy doing that mural, enjoy doing that show, enjoy every single thing trying to get somewhere. Because you’re at the age where you’re supposed to be running for it and gunning for it. But enjoy the times that you are in it. You can miss out trying to get somewhere. You’re blessed today.
JADE: It’s real.
TEEDRA: Especially coming from this place. Where you can walk into a room with strangers and feel comfortable. When you get out in the world, they not like this. There is more genuineness here than I’ve ever experienced anywhere else.
This, who you are right now, hold on to that as you grow. This is the special part.
I just adore you and I think you’re so talented and I think there is so much more to go.
JADE: Teedra, you’re just dropping gems!
Teedra Moses and The Artist Jade perform at Three Keys as a part of Ace New Orleans’ Six of Saturns on Saturday April 29.
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