Usually, Jessie Reyez seems to have the right words, but on Nov. 20, she was utterly speechless. It was the day she found out she was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award — just one of the highlights of her whirlwind musical journey thus far. Reyez has proved she's a force to be reckoned with in the music industry by releasing singles that took the R&B world by storm. That being said, she hasn't forgotten her roots. Jessie Reyez's quotes about the importance of women mentors speak volumes about her success.
Reyez was enjoying a quiet day at home when her mom and several friends knocked on her door to deliver the Grammy news — a moment they captured on tape.
"I was just in disbelief, and I’ve never seen my jaw hit the floor like that," Reyez tells Elite Daily. "I think I had my jaw dropped all day... I watched back the video about 500 times because I was just in disbelief... It’s motivating, it’s humbling."
Reyez's Being Human in Public was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and it's only the beginning of what she's accomplished in 2020. Reyez will perform at Coachella in April, and she's also one of the faces of Secret's "All Strength, No Sweat" campaign alongside the likes of Riverdale's Camila Mendes and Olympic Gold Medalist Swin Cash. Reyez was even tasked to write an original song for the campaign.
To be included in the list of boss ladies is empowering for Reyez, since she credits the strong female figures in her life as being the fuel for success. These days, young females across the globe look up to Reyez, but she hasn't forgotten her humble beginnings.
"I was really fortunate to have [women mentors]," she says. "I think that the reason it's made such a difference in my life was that, when you’re a kid and you have these big dreams … and maybe they’re in more of a creative field — so you see exactly what’s on TV of painters, or singers, or dancers. That’s basically your first and only contact with that idea, that dream, and the idea of what success looks like."
That was the case for Reyez, who admits while growing up in Canada, a career in entertainment felt unattainable.
"When I was a kid, it was almost like there was a separation, because I remember watching award shows and watching music videos and I wish I was there," Reyez says. "But it just felt so far away and so unrealistic."
As far-fetched as her dreams felt, Reyez was able to navigate her way into the industry after working closely with her earliest mentors at The Remix Project, a charity created to help young people from marginalized and underserved communities enter into creative fields.
"It was the first time I was able to put flesh to a dream," she says. "I was like, this is the bridge. It’s possible. There’s someone that’s just like me, that breathes like me, that talks like me, that’s capable of achieving it and they’re in front of me and here’s the example."
Reyez has been releasing music since 2016, finding success with songs like "Figures" and "Apple Juice," but her 2017 track "Gatekeeper" — a song that boldly calls out sexism and exploitation in the music industry — hit especially hard with fans.
"It matters a lot to see women that look like you, women that are minorities succeeding publicly and being respected and all these things that the regular norm of society maybe didn’t paint as a regular option for someone that looked like me, for a little girl whose parents are from Colombia," she explains. "I think it’s important because it provides more inspiration for girls that are facing their own problems."
When Reyez hits the stage at Coachella, it'll be her first time attending the festival. But that was by choice. "I kind of had the opportunity to go a few years ago, but I said to myself I didn’t want to go until I was performing, I didn’t want to go until I was on the bill," she says.
Reyez is just getting started in 2020, and even as she embarks on her biggest year yet, she knows that her modest roots are to thank for her success.