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FROM THE LOWER 9 TO GOD'S DIVINE SONGBIRD

Interviewer: Alright let's get right to it! Who is Jolisa Janell?

Jolisa Janell: Alright! So...this is something I say all the time when I'm talking to people about who I am. I always start off with saying, "I am a daughter of God first, that's who I am. I belong to Him!" Beyond all the titles; because I have the titles, I have degrees and all that stuff but that means absolutely nothing to me if I'm not His. If I don't have Jesus in my life, if I'm not His or if I can't call Him mine and He can't call me His nothing else matters. I am a daughter of God before everything else! 


I grew up in New Orleans born and raised in the 9th ward some people call it the Lower 9. My dad is a Pastor, I'm a P.K. (Preachers Kid) I grew up in the church so I've been in church all my life but really my heart change didn't happen until I actually wanted to know the Lord for myself! I've seen it modeled before me, I have an awesome father and an awesome experience in church. I know a lot of people experience church hurt and you have P.K.'s who see so much then just don't want to have anything to do with the church and ministry. I get that, but my experience is different. My dad has really been an anchor for myself and for my brother. He's our hero, because we've seen him pray us through it all. He's been a great example of a true father and a true man. 


Interviewer: What have you survived to get to where you are today?

Jolisa Janell: My parents got divorced when I was about 8 years old, that really shattered me because it came out of no where. It affected so much of my life. My dad petitioned to keep us. It wasn't because my mom didn't want us, even though I didn't understand that yet. So there I had a mother wound feeling like I was rejected by my parent. It was not that she didn't want us, she took my two older brothers who are my bonus brothers, my father took my birth brother and I. He went before the Lord, he told us this story; he said I want my children. I'm glad he did it! The type of upbringing we had would have been way different if we went with my mom at the time. Not throwing any type of shade her way at all because our relationship is restored in this season, we talk all the time. It's just that I know I wouldn't be the way that I am today if I didn't have my dad in my life as a praying parent.


With the help of my grandmother my dad really helped to bring us up the right way. We moved in with my grandmother when my grandfather died. I was around 12 at the time so my dad thought it would be a good idea for us to move in with her. He was up the street around the corner so we saw him everyday. At the time I didn't understand my grandmother's way of showing love. She grew up in the country, she grew up on the farm. It was that tough love; they didn't say I love you, they modeled strength. The way she said she loved me was through her sacrifice of getting up every morning cooking us hot food morning, noon and night! Teaching us responsibilities, how to clean up, how to take care of ourselves and our environment. Those types of things I've really learned to appreciate after I left the house and became an adult. I found myself thinking man she really taught me everything!


Something else I survived was when I got held back in the 3rd grade, that hurt me as well. It was around the time that my parents got divorced. It wasn't that I wasn't smart it was just so much going on in my life. I lacked confidence, I had so many insecurities; I was the type of girl that thought everyone is so much prettier than I was coming up. I wanted to be like the other girls who were prettier, the other girls who were popular. I just didn't find my place yet coming up as a young girl. I really didn't have the right image of who I was until God showed me, I didn't think I was beautiful at all. I wanted to be someone else but myself.


What the Lord did for me came after I accepted Him for real! I came up in the church but I truly said it in my heart around 12 and I saw the shift. I said I want to know God for myself, that's when I began to have a true personal relationship with the Lord. I began to get in the word for myself and see who He was, then I saw who I was!  I'm telling you the story of favor from that point on was evident. From completely paid scholarships, teachers who didn't really care for me now getting along with me great the whole nine!

Interviewer: When did you hear God tell you you were an artist?


Jolisa Janell: I never heard God tell me I was an artist verbatim. I've just literally been doing it all of my life since I was a little girl! I've been singing, having lead solos roles/positions in high school, college and grad school. 


This is the shift, after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; the first song that I recorded was called "The Unexpected". It talks about how that experience was completely unexpected, all the stuff that happened, people losing there lives, homes and that whole tragic situation. One of my teachers at Dillard University said, "Jolisa I really feel that you need to write a song about this." I kept dodging her about it but I'm glad that I finally listened because I got a scholarship for writing it. Then God put me in the path of meeting Victor Smith when I moved down for grad school he connected us, which gave me the opportunity to record at his studio. 


That was a God ordained set up! The person I previously worked with burned me, wasn't honest and didn't have integrity. So this lead me to the right person and that journey began with me eventually creating a demo following that an entire project. Out of that we produced my first album called, "You Said It" that started with Sanctified Sound after the first single. I knew it was something I wanted to pursue, that was around the fall of 2006; then I went on the journey of releasing my first album around 2013 and that established me as a contemporary gospel artist. 


Interviewer: Why Music? 

Jolisa Janell: It's just what I do, that's who I am. I'm a Singer! I'm an Artist! I create Music! I write songs! These are the gifts that God has placed within me and it comes naturally for me to do. Anybody who really knows me, knows that because that's all I do is sing. I'll make a song out of anything. We can just be having a conversation and I'm up there making a song out of food or whatever jokingly. Music is apart of my personally. I enjoy singing it, I enjoy worshipping, I'm a worshipper at heart. I enjoy praising the Lord and I enjoy spending time with Him to create more songs about my experiences with Him and God focused songs. 


Interviewer: Who is on your path to reach?

Jolisa Janell: That would be the younger generation! My heart is for them. I have a ministry called, "Worth The Fight Ministries". It's to talk to them about who they are, their identity and explain to them their worth. This is the area I suffered with greatly coming up as a youth. Always feeling out of place, always feeling unloved, not feeling affirmed and all of the stuff they go through not knowing who you are. I had an identity crisis, I did not know who I was until I came to know Jesus! My path is reaching the younger generation and letting them know they are worth the price that Jesus suffered and died for. His blood; His priceless blood was shed for them, and they are worth the fight! 


The fight is His struggle to the cross! The fight is Him dying and raising from the grave again. The fight is doing it because He saw us! The Bible says He saw us, He saw what was before Him and He did it for us anyway! My mission; what the Lord has placed before me is that younger generation has to know, they have to know that they are worth it and not worthless. They are not without a Father. They are not abandoned. They are not rejected. They are not forsaken!


Especially in the 21st century, they are dealing with an identity crisis. They don't know if they are male, they don't know if they are female; they don't know what they want to be. They belong to Jesus and they are worth the price He suffered and died for! 

Interviewer: What does your now season look like?

Jolisa Janell: My now season is expecting God to move like He has never moved before. I've experienced His hand greatly in my life but I'm still expecting more! I'm still expecting new, I'm still wanting more. I'm still wanting more of His promises fulfilled in my life.


There are some things I'm still wanting to come to pass like I said, marriage, children. I do want my career to be successful but ultimately I have to keep God first by allowing my light to shine wherever I go. My future looks like Lord what is your will for me? My now looks like, Lord I want you to cultivate all those thing in me before I see you again. 

My mission is I need to bring more souls with me to Heaven! Like Jesus said, woman it is not yet my time. My goal is to reach the younger generation and bring more souls into the kingdom of God even with my music. I know my music is a tool for that, but my calling is very different. My calling has everything to do with evangelism and outreach. My gifting and abilities will be a tool to draw them to the Lord. This is what I'm asking the Lord to do in my near future, get me ready to go out there and be about His business in that way. When I leave this earth I want to be emptied out! I'm not bringing back one gift, one talent, nothing! 



FB: @Jolisa Janell

IG: @JolisaJanell 

YouTube: @Jolisa Janell 

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