Contemporary R&B singer and songwriter Jazmine Sullivan spent several years learning the ropes of the music industry before she signed to J Records and became a Grammy-nominated recording artist. The Philadelphia native started her career at a young age. At the age of 11, she made her national television debut on Showtime at the Apollo, and signing to Jive Records at age 15. Her stint at Jive lasted only a couple years, however, and she was dropped by the label before any recordings were released. In the wake of this disappointment, Sullivan worked behind the scenes, for instance working with Missy Elliott on productions for Fantasia's debut album, Free Yourself (2004), and writing a couple songs for Christina Milian's third album, So Amazin' (2006), including the hit single "Say I."
Sullivan was then offered a solo recording contract with J, which in 2008 released her debut single, "Need U Bad." Featuring and co-produced by Missy Elliott, the song topped Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart. Fearless, her debut album, featuring productions by Salaam Remi and Stargate, among others, was issued that September. It topped the R&B/hip-hop chart and crossed over to reach number six on the Billboard 200, aided by "Bust Your Windows" and "Lions, Tigers & Bears" — both of which went into the Top Ten of the R&B chart. Sullivan followed it up in November 2010 with Love Me Back, previewed with "Holding You Down (Goin' in Circles)," yet another Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hit.
Despite an impressive total of 11 Grammy nominations for her work as a vocalist and songwriter, Sullivan was frustrated with the industry and announced in 2011 that she was leaving it. However, she was eventually drawn back. In 2014, "Dumb" (featuring Meek Mill), "Forever Don't Last," and "Mascara" were released as the first singles from her third album, Reality Show. The set was issued the following January and led to three more Grammy nominations, including one for Best R&B Album. Sullivan continued to assist other artists, as heard on Frank Ocean's Endless, Mali Music's The Transition of Mali, and Mary J. Blige's Strength of a Woman. In 2017, she and Bryson Tiller contributed "Insecure" to Issa Rae's HBO series of the same title. ~ Jason Birchmeier