For the Washington, D.C. native and North Carolina-raised artist Jasmine Rose Wilson, music has been an unexpected blessing.
Though the 25-year-old — who is professionally known as Baby Rose — picked up piano at the age of nine and occasionally recorded songs in a studio, she nearly quit music altogether following her mother’s cancer diagnosis, according to a 2019 interview with DJBooth.
“I had kinda given up [on music],” she said at the time. “I wasn’t doing well in school. I wasn’t sure what my purpose was at that point.”
During that time, the then-amateur artist had the opportunity to perform at a friend’s talent showcase in front of her family. She told DJBooth it was the wakeup call she needed.
“I made a four-minute song last for 10 minutes,” Wilson said. “I was lost in it, and I remember, at that moment, it was, ‘Damn, this is the only thing that makes me feel free. That makes me feel worthy. That gives me a purpose in this life.’ While I’m here, I have to do what I love to do.”
Over the course of a number of years, Wilson drew inspiration from several singers — including Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Frank Ocean and James Blake — to create her own sound.
“People that push the boundaries, they include classical elements in the art,” she said most recently on “Making It,” a co-production between In The Know and Complex’s Pigeon & Planes. “You know, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, but I can add some rims to that h**.”
In discovering herself as an artist, the 25-year-old, whose deep voice is incredibly distinctive, has also faced her fair share of challenges.
“People, when they first listen, their first reaction is like, ‘Wow, her voice,'” she said. “It took me a while to embrace that because, at first, I felt like it was kind of like a curse, like, ‘Damn, why do I have to sound like this and look like this?’ It doesn’t make sense.”
But that voice has also earned Wilson features on notable albums, along with acclaim from music critics. In July 2019, she made an appearance on rapper J. Cole’s “Revenge of the Dreamers III,” a compilation album featuring noteworthy names including Ari Lennox, DaBaby and T.I.
“It was just so much energy going around like, ‘Create, just create, do as much as you can,’ because there’s heat in every room,'” Wilson of her time working on the album. “There’s heat in the hallways.”
The following month, Wilson released “To Myself” — an album that centers on a breakup that she went through and her effort to move past it.
“It’s more of a coming of age, coming-into-my-own-like story in a way,” she explained on “Making It.”
“To Myself” received a glowing review from Pitchfork, which, at the time, claimed that the richness of Baby Rose’s music “lies in how the intricate, multi-layered production accentuates her warm and expressive voice.” Music blog Earmilk similarly praised the up-and-coming artist, noting that listeners had “yet to hear a voice as unique and smoky as this songwriter’s since the likes of Brittany Howard or of Nina Simone.”
Since then, the artist has worked diligently to build on that success.
“Next year, I hope to be performing all of my music and writing more music and flourishing,” Wilson said.
In The Know recently teamed up with Pigeons & Planes to highlight up-and-coming hip-hop stars. “Making It” tells the stories of their journeys and documents how self-made stars rise to prominence in the digital era.
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