Takes a look at Jessie Reyez — the soulful voice leading the Juno nominees.
1 Family is a bedrock
Reyez was born in Toronto to parents who immigrated from Colombia, but that doesn’t mean her cultural roots aren’t intact. The singer pays tribute to her family’s origins in the music video for Great One, which trails her as she visits their homeland. It’s a spiritual reflection created after the deaths of her uncle and a childhood friend. Reyez walks among the marked graves of locals while seemingly chasing the ghost of a child and her journey winds up at a river where she’s baptized by some welcoming figures.
2 It’s Yessie, not Jessie
Although she was born Jessica, she prefers people call her Yessie, eschewing the hard J sound. She says this is how her family says her name.
3 Cheer squad
Reyez was a cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts before she started pursuing music. Jorie Brown, her former cheer coach, remembers her as spunky performer with rough edges. “If you watch the old rehearsals, everyone’s in their shorts and halftop and Jessie’s in basketball shorts,” Brown said in a promotional video for the singer produced by Vevo. Cheerleading and Reyez weren’t meant to be forever, as she eventually decided to ditch the gig to chase a music career.
4 Calvin connection
Starting out with big dreams, Reyez pounded the pavement with a hard sell. She often tells the story of walking into the now defunct Toronto nightclub The Guvernment and handing out her mixtape to DJs while they were performing a live set. One of those DJs turned out to be producer extraordinaire Calvin Harris, known for crafting hits with Katy Perry and Rihanna. Several years later, Reyez officially reunited with Harris for a collaboration on his 2017 album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 called Hard to Love.
5 Meeting perchance
Reyez counts Grammywinning artist Chance the Rapper among her pals. She made connections with him a few years ago through fellow rap artist King Louie, who was convinced they’d get along. After many conversations, they wound up working in a Chicago studio together and have been friends ever since.