You don’t have to be an avid reggae listener to be enraptured by the hypnotic vocals of Jah9. Possessing a chilling yet bewitching vibrato evoking a young Ella Fitzgerald and a rootsy coolness à la Erykah Badu, the Kingston-based soulstress adds refreshing nu jazz vibes to the roots reggae tradition. Like many of her Jamaican reggae-making comrades, Jah9 follows the Rastafarian way of life, as evidenced through her rich, poetic lyrics. Quite differently from her peers, she’s musically attuned to various genres from other cultures, primarily drawing influences on American jazz and blues of the ‘50s era.
Growing up as the daughter of a Baptist minister, the young Janine Cunningham got a head start in her musical endeavors, being highly involved in the church choir in her hometown of Trelawney. Relocating to Kingston years later, she became an active player in the city’s underground spoken word scene, getting her first shots at songwriting. Shortly thereafter, Miss Cunningham began recording under the Jah9 moniker under the mentorship of legendary lover’s rock vocalist Beres Hammond, and later, with dancehall producer Donovan Bennett. In 2013, Jah9 released her debut album New Name, calling her special musical recipe “jazz on dub.”
Recently releasing a tropical treat of a video for “Avocado,” Jah9 shows off her sultry side with plenty of charm. Her deeply soulful vocals remind us of melodies of decades past, indicating she’s an old soul too. With the roots reggae revival at a new height and Jah9’s all-encompassing appeal, we’re sure this up-and-coming heroine will continue to give us plenty of refreshing jazzy reggae music to enjoy