Christian JaLon (pronounced "Juh-lahn") has been breathing music into Chicago’s air for years now. The Chicago singer weaves words and notes with a cool honesty that demands you trust the music. Voice, mind and heart, all key components of what make Christian Jalon an artist to watch.
She’s been singing all her life, first starting in church choir where her mom sang. Living a life surrounded in music, Christian JaLon decided to start releasing music as a teenager, first struck with the idea after recording songs at lunch time. A good student but school wasn't her thing, like many others she found her place for passion and a motivating force in Young Chicago Authors. The act of recording music began as a whim and quickly became a way of life.
"I started going to Chance's Open Mike at Harold Washington and the very first time I went I decided I'm going to start recording my music now. I had this group of friends and they had all the equipment. I was like, 'help me!' One of my friends who's name is Nate, he brought his equipment over to our friend Ray's house. He said he had a beat for me, and oddly enough it was perfect even though I had written the song months ago. The tune was perfect, the vibe was perfect, I recorded it and it's called "Nostalgia". I put it out the very next day and the first night it got 400 some plays, I was like "oh my gosh, people are listening to me!" I had never put out any original content so how I got 400 plus plays in one night, I was very baffled but very grateful."
It was a fantastic sign of things to come, a little inspiration going a long way. Since then, Christian JaLon has performed more and created more, playing a number of live shows and releasing an impressive array of songs, verse and hooks. A killer feature, Christian's vocals are a wise addition to any track. This progression since 2014 has been rooted in a strong support network, critical to her development as an artist. There's nothing like an mentor environment for someone who's beginning to maneuver.
"I heard about their Open Mikes...I started going, I kept going, kept meeting new people, kept networking. After a while I started working with YCA in their Bombsquad internship or little gigs or sets. They would hire us to do things, almost like being a resident there....Chance asked us to come perform at the very first Teens In Parks festival he held. From then on everything became extremely serious for me and I became extremely dedicated. I really felt like somebody believed in me, someone I could call a mentor, several people I could call mentors believed in me. Starting with Young Chicago Authors, all the way to Chance's Open Mikes. That's how everything got started".
Aware as she is about those around her, she is about her self (which happens to be the name of her first EP). SELF came out in Summer 2015, a reflective project that traveled inward with a unique and personal approach to song writing that was refreshingly direct. Written during a period of self-analysis and struggles, Christian JaLon wanted to create an album that allowed the therapy of expression, for the her sake and the listeners, a shared experience.
"SELF was put out very randomly, I wasn't expecting to release a project that soon. It started when I wrote my song "Ready", a call to self-love...it was a therapeutic thing for me, to write that song. A lot of my songs do stem from my experiences and what I see and what I feel, whether it be from my own energy or another person's. Some songs don't even come from my own experience, but after I wrote a few of them I realized all these songs corresponded with each other. I think when I do take from these life experiences, that gives my song an even more personal feel. It lets the listeners, my audience know that they are not alone in these feelings, these life experiences. We're all going through this together, and I'm here to be a vessel, a healer to people. I'm here to help, basically."
Her method to singing and writing is very deliberate, but her decision process to production is more based on a hunch or feeling, leaning towards subtle, tracks that are almost ambient but still vibe. Most frequently she has worked with Moonhater, who produces with a perfect understanding of how to shine the light on Christian's vocals. If you look at her choices as a performer, you understand why they go in their direction. See her live and you'll witness crowd volume dim like a lightbulb as Christian commands the stage with her powerful voice.
"I wait til the audience is quieted down, maybe. I always try and make sure I get onstage with a grounded spirit, with my energy intact so it can transfer to the audience. This is why I love intimate spaces, energy is way easy to pass in those spaces. I make myself grounded so the crowd isn't so riled up, they can feel that I'm here, I'm standing in front of you, I'm present, we're present together."
Now, Christian is working on her second project, Po Blk Kids, projected to come out this summer. In addition to that, she aims to start curating sets and shows , so that her fans can continue to see Christian off record and in-person. She's writing a book called Winona, too. Yes, there's a lot going on for Chrstian JaLon right now, and she's just happy to be have the opportunity. We asked for her final thoughts and it was only a second before she was thinking of others again.
"'I'm really grateful for everyone who supports and listens to my work, who takes the time out and gives me a chance. I know that there are so many people in the city they could be listening to. For artists who feel like nobody is giving them a chance, remain yourself....hard work pays off, it really does pay off. Remain faithful to yourself and the source, and realize where the help comes from."
Wise words from Christian JaLon.