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Breaking: Jazmine Sullivan

November 19, 2008 2:36 PM ET

Who: Philadelphia soul singer Jazmine Sullivan, who at the age of 21 has already gained fans like Kanye West, duetted with Stevie Wonder and released her first album Fearless.

Sounds Like: Sullivan's voice recalls both Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill, and on the Missy Elliott-produced Fearless, Sullivan jumps from roots reggae on "Need U Bad" to the girl group sound of "One Night Stand" to the Winehouse-esque "Bust Your Windows," a song that made Kanye West proclaim on his blog "This is my favorite song right now!!!"

Vital Stats:

• Sullivan got her start in music at a young age. She was offered a gospel contract at 11, then by age 16 she was dueting with Stevie Wonder at his grandson's birthday party.

• After signing being dropped by Jive in 2005, Sullivan recorded a demo tape. Two years later, she found herself in Clive Davis' office and ultimately signing a contract with J Records. "When I saw him, I thought, 'This is the man who can make or break my career,' Sullivan says. "But he gave me a hug and said 'Welcome to the family.'"

• "Bust Your Windows," as the title suggests, tells the story of a girl who breaks the car windows of a cheating boyfriend. "I had a boyfriend, a break up — I'd been through some stuff," Sullivan says. As for whether or not she did take a crowbar to the windows, "I won't say if I did or didn't. But even if I didn't, I wanted to."

Hear It Now: Fearless is in stores now, and Sullivan will hit the road November 23rd as the opening act for Maxwell. Check out the video for "Bust Your Windows" above.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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