By SAE Institute
Recording artist, singer/songwriter, and SAE Institute Miami student, Jennifer Sanon (aka Gen Josef) is no stranger to music and performance. A product of a family of successful musicians, Jennifer’s passion for music propelled her into not only becoming an acclaimed Jazz artist, but also a multiple award-winning musician and Grammy Honoree.
We‘re proud to connect with the Miami native, as she was recently chosen as a Top 10 Finalist in the ‘Road to Nashville’ Liverpool International Song Contest – a project aimed at tackling the stigma of mental health, and supporting artists, musicians, and songwriters around the world.
Keep reading to learn more about her background, her life as a Miami campus student, and how experiencing personal tragedy inspired the message of hope and encouragement reflected in her music today.
Who or what inspired you to pursue music?
JS: Honestly, it’s one of those things that on any given day, you’d find me doing it even if I were not getting paid to do it. It’s not just a hobby for me, it’s spiritual. It also runs in the family. My mother (a clarinetist) was my singing teacher. My father played various instruments. There was always music of some sort being rehearsed at home, and every Saturday my siblings and I knew to expect to assist with teaching at family music school where we taught local kids from church and around the neighborhood came to learn. I’m also no stranger to the stage: I had the honor and privilege of performing and touring with celebrity Wynton Marsalis on his Grammy-nominated Album From the Plantation to the Penitentiary when I was 17. [Check out the Tv clip here.] I also co-produced this year’s Grammy Winner, Jonathan Batiste’s song Let Love Lead. [Listen to the Song from the Grammy-nominated album here.]
Tell us about the process of writing your song “The Point of No Return”.
JS: This song was written in the wake of losing both parents after the recent pandemic. They died a day apart from each other, due to medical neglect. It was just a tumultuous time for many people around the world. We lost 8 people in total, including mom, dad, two uncles, one aunt, and two more cousins on the day of the funeral. I was really just trying to hold it together. You could say it was a journal entry put to song.
How has your experience at SAE INSTITUTE Miami shaped who you are as an artist?
JS: SAE has given me the tools to re-emerge as the artist I truly am. It also has removed the lid-off-the-box, or the limitations, so to speak. Our lives, our cultures are composed of many overlapping stories. For the first time, I now have the tools to shape what my listeners hear, as opposed to before I was at the mercy of how others chose to tell my story. I admire the story of the rare women in the industry who geniously put their music together like Lauryn Hill. They inspired me when I was little: that it was in fact possible. What’s ironic is how far I’ve traveled out of town to find these very skills, when all this time, SAE was always just 5 minutes away from my childhood home. (note: The Point of No Return is a song I was able to make as early as MOD 1, under the instruction of Oscar Amador.)
What are you most excited about for this Road to Nashville experience?
JS: I’m so humbled, by the grace of God, this will be the very first time my written song will be performed live. Most importantly, is the cause behind this event. Loneliness and Mental Illness have been the biggest silent killers. The Director Dr. Shamander Talwar (and cofounder of tuff.earth) gave me a call, just before the finalists were announced and he asked me to explain that this event is really being done to address this silent killer, and those who have been quietly hurting. Appropriate, this very message, lies behind each and every one of my songs I’ve created. (Here is another song written just after The Point of No Return, with the aim to encourage those who are discouraged. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9Vt8knnwd8)
In short, I have no expectations really, except to say “Better is not Good Enough, the Best is yet to Come”!
WhERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS?
JS: In five years from now, I see my music in major films, winning Grammys right up there with Adele, Beyonce, and Micheal Jackson, and making a substantial amount of income in revenue to build hospitals and schools with affordable health insurance for those who need it most— God willing.
To follow along with Jennifer’s journey and hear more of her music, visit her website at www.Jennifer Sanon.com. Be sure to tune in to her live performance at the ‘Road To Nashville Song Contest’ finale on Sunday, October 9th, streaming live on Music Crowns. For more information about the SAE Institute Miami campus, visit us online at https://usa.sae.edu/campuses/miami/.