Jessica Medina understands the power of the human voice. The right voice can reinforce solidarity just as the wrong one can destroy it. As someone well aware of this dichotomy, she deeply considers the vocal power that resides within us all. Such awareness has been with her since childhood. Growing up in New York with a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, whose voices were the soundtrack of her formative years, she absorbed a lifetime’s worth of music before she could even sing herself. She has carried those sounds over into the lives of her own children, enlivening them with a likeminded blend of tradition and the unknown.
With Spanish and English as her native tongues, and New York City as her home, she quickly developed her talents through keen interests in culture, language, and performing arts. Said interests only intensified during summer trips to her grandparents’ in the Dominican Republic, where immersion heightened her sense of self in all respects. At Hunter College, under a rather different immersion of political science and women’s rights, she auditioned her way into a jazz performance class. Suddenly a new world was open to her: a home away from home that led her to study with such greats as Sheila Jordan and placed her on stages throughout New York City. The next step was a move to Paris in 2002. There she spent more than two years gigging throughout the city with well-respected musicians and artists across a variety of genres. In May of 2007 she released her first full-length CD, Azul. Featuring songs in four languages and such talents as Brazilian jazz trumpeter Claudio Roditi, it earned her spotlight artist status for the Hennessy X.O Jazz Smooth and Mellow Tour that same year, an honor that took her to China, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Upon her return, and still high from the experience, she continued to perform locally and toured anew in South America, including stops in Buenos Aires, Rio, and Lima.
While developing her adoration for Afro-Peruvian music (and flirting with salsa) over the next four years, motherhood had a profound effect on her, at once sharpening and widening her perspective on that which truly matters. Out of a need to live mindfully and in the moment, she threw herself into community work and local activism around salient issues. All of which led her to record a second album, due out in the first quarter of 2019. Blending a World Music vibe with espresso shots of Afro-Peruvian and Caribbean flavor, her sound is an aromatic blend of life and love. It’s a story of women at the forefront, of immigrants in every sense of the word, of people caught in webs of race, gender, and class indivisible from us all. It’s a project that has led her to write original songs for the first time, and by those empathizes with the struggles of those less fortunate. Despite growing up speaking Spanish, she is only now beginning to channel her rawest emotions into that very tongue, proving once again that language—and a voice by which to articulate its potential for change—is at the heart of everything she does.