“I’ve been playing on Frenchmen for about eight years now. I have a residency at the Blue Nile, which started off as a duo for jazz happy hour and has evolved to what it is today. I feel very grateful to have cut my teeth on that world-famous stage and figure out the type of music I want to do, be able to write, and try out things on my audience.
I didn’t start performing music until I was about 24, 25 years old. I’m a bit of a late bloomer. I did go to NOCCA, but it was for theater, not music. So I don’t have any music training but having a theater background helps a lot.
The audition process was really, really frightening for me. I had some very sad, embarrassing auditions. I didn’t want to separate myself from the stage—always felt really at home there—so I thought maybe I could turn some theater heads in the city by developing a name for myself as a vocalist. I wanted to develop my craft on stage where I had control over my representation. I ended up falling in love with the music! And I became interested in storytelling. I started off singing a cappella with monologues in between songs. This has evolved into the band we have today, weaving in stories that really resonate with the music. I have a really solid band that follows me wherever I go in the middle of performance. It’s very improv-oriented. We can expand it up to an eight-piece, but mostly we’re a four-piece: vocals, bass, drums and keys.
I’m learning to sing straight, more impactful. I’m a very emotional singer and my voice can be very temperamental. I’m aware of that.
’16 Shots’ was a two-part journal entry. It is me reconciling my light skin and being around folks who are lighter than me, have straighter hair, and seeing how we were treated differently. And, in New Orleans specifically, how we were treated based solely on our last name.
And I was thinking of my aunt’s brother by marriage who was gunned down by the police in Hollygrove. I was thinking if his skin had been lighter, his hair had been straighter, his paints pulled up a bit more, then maybe they would not have gunned him down. I use his nickname ‘Magic’ to honor him in playing the lyrics on the idea of black men and magic.
If I’m going to say something that’s heavy for me, then I’m going to try and be sneaky about it and get people in and bobbing their heads and grooving and then maybe digging deeper into the lyrics.”
Mykia Jovan performs at Jazz Fest on the Congo Square Stage at 11:25 a.m. on Friday, April 27.