Jazmine Sullivan Believes In Comparison With the Artists of the 1960's, Today's Artists "Should Do More"

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Find out why Jazmine Sullivan covered Nina Simone's moving song, "Baltimore" and her thoughts on her fellow musicians.

Jazmine Sullivan, Jon McReynolds, Jessica Reedy and more of Gospel’s biggest artists are set to pay tribute to vocal legend, Kim Burrell.  The 2015 ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will be filled with moving, positive and constructive experiences to improve the various aspects of your life, this July.

Not only will we honor the Pastor Kim Burrell at the All-Star Gospel Tribute, expert panelists and political leaders will gather together to address the issues our communities are facing with police to bring awareness to the problems that matter to us.  

In part one of our interview with Jazmine Sullivan, we talked about her tour, her highly anticipated tribute performance to Kim Burrell and the first time they crossed paths.  But, with the release of her cover of Nina Simone’s Baltimore hitting the airwaves last week, we wanted to ask her about her thoughts on the nation’s current tension.  Here’s what she had to say.

ESSENCE:  We loved your cover of Nina Simone’s “Baltimore.”  You sounded amazing. 

Thank you!

ESSENCE:  The video was moving and powerful with the images of 1960s to the present day. At the end of the video, Nina Simone says, “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”  Was this video your way of making a statement?

Actually, I did the song for the movie that is coming out about her and honestly, I didn’t even know that song of all of the Nina Simone songs I know.  But, I did the song and when I heard her sing the song, all I could think about was trying to match her passion.  It just so happens that the song came out when the stuff in Baltimore started happening.  It was just so timely when Robert Glasper, and I think the label, put it out.  I love that I am a part of it in some kind of way.  When I was on tour and I couldn’t really do anything as far as the protests go.  So, I love that in this way, I could be a part of it.

ESSENCE:  A few celebrities have marched and Beyoncé just teamed up with the NAACP to support the city of Baltimore.  But, there are a whole group of other artists who haven’t said anything about the issues at all.  In the past, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and more were out on the front lines risking their lives and their careers.  In your opinion, do you think that artists are doing enough these days?

I think there’s more we can do.  You’re right.  Back in the day, the artists were very much involved.  That was their life as well and I think that today, and I’m including myself too, we separate ourselves from everything else going on.  I think we as artists should do more.

The All-Star Gospel Tribute to Kim Burrell will take place on Sunday, July 5th.  Don't miss any of the great moments at ESSENCE Fest 2015, buy your tickets today.  

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