Jade Novah: On Nurturing her Gifts and Paying it Forward

“Be intentional about what it is you want and literally say no to any and everything that isn’t in alignment with that.”

If you watched the 2021 Savage Fenty show, you heard Jade Novah welcoming us in with a stunning operatic solo, clad in latex gloves, her hair twisted into a crown above her head. As dancers writhed on circular staircases and Cindy Crawford strolled the steps, Jade ignited her whistle register in a way only Mariah Carey has dared to do, adding an auditory element of awe. In an interview before the show, Jade said, “I’ve never done opera before, but if Rihanna wants Opera, I’m going to AHHHH [singing].” While she expresses a sentiment with which I’m sure we all agree (namely, we’ll do anything for Queen Rih), this quote actually reveals another truth: Jade Novah can do it all. 

From background singer to radio host to impersonator and comedian to independent artist, this effervescent beauty has come and conquered. Jade Novah defines what it means to be a creative, excelling in a multitude of talents that have wowed audiences and shot her into stardom. Though she’d already penned songs for Mya and Christina Millian, her career exploded when her YouTube video of a Rihanna cover went viral, and it landed her a spot singing background vocals with the Barbadian star. But Miss Novah was destined for the spotlight, and in 2018 she released her debut album as a solo artist, All Blue. That same year, her parodies of artists like Toni Braxton and Beyonce went viral and she also worked as a mentor on Fox’s The Four: Battle for Stardom. Acknowledgments and accreditations were soon hurling her way, including a 2019 NCAAP nomination for Best New Artist. 

Jade continues to explore and express in a multitude of ways. She’s currently gearing up for Season 2 of That’s My Jam on NBC and is planning to release her third solo album this year. And if her flourishing ambitions weren’t enviable enough, she is happily married to producer and music manager Devin Johnson. Listening to Jade speak about their creative collaborations made my heart flutter with hope, what a beautiful way to connect spirits and share their love. And, for driven women hoping to excel in their careers and find romance, she serves as encouragement in the flesh. Together, the handsome couple is writing a variety show, and I can only imagine the combination of emotion and comedy their scripts will portray. 

Particularly marvelous is Jade’s desire to nurture other artists as they find their path and embrace all the things they can become. As a decidedly independent artist – a choice that allows Jade to be her most authentic self creatively – she grew to understand the financial challenges that can come with bringing brilliance to life. By teaming up with Pull Up, a generative ecosystem where creators of color can learn from and grow with industry leaders and each other, Jade received the means necessary to expand her ventures, including producing two music videos. Now, she serves as a mentor in the program alongside names like Issa Rae, pulling other artists up in the industry that has embraced her, so that they can accelerate their creative journeys. 

Her words are as inspiring as her actions, and in our discussion, she dished on touring with legendary female vocalists, her experience with SNL, and a new, in-the-works way her many talents will come together before our eyes.

In a previous interview, you mention how singing back up for singers like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Missy Elliot gave you range and made your album, All Blue, eclectic. What was one of the most important lessons you learned working with artists like that? And who are your biggest contemporary inspirations now?

Working with artists at that level taught me to trust and ENJOY my journey. There are so many milestones ahead at every level, and watching those women continuously set new goals for themselves, even after reaching what we might consider “success,” really put things in perspective for me. The journey really is never ending, and that’s a beautiful thing! As far as my biggest contemporary inspirations, I’d have to say Donald Glover. Comedy, music, Disney, television, all of the creative spaces he’s unapologetically living in…that’s goals. 

You’ve said that a highlight of your time working in radio was hearing other artists journeys. If you could share the most influential moment and lesson from your journey, what would that be?

Patience! Society puts so much pressure on creatives, especially women. It goes back to the lessons I learned working with so many incredible women at all levels of success. Taking that pressure off myself to achieve certain “milestones” by a certain age was transformative for me and my journey. Time is a construct.

You’ve mentioned that your experience auditioning with SNL gave you the confidence and inspired you to build and create. What has changed about your art and about you as a creator since that experience?

It was an incredible experience that reaffirmed my abilities as a comedic writer and talent. I’d say that I’ve become even more intentional about creating art that highlights my experiences as a black woman. We NEED more spaces in comedy for black women, period. 

You often work with your husband on projects, what advice would you give to women who want to chase their dreams and find love to help them ‘do it all’?

Be intentional about what it is you want and literally say no to any and everything that isn’t in alignment with that. Setting intention is a super power. Also, the focus should be on your own self love and healing, because if you aren’t in a space to receive whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll never be satisfied, even if you find it.

Before the Fenty show, Rihanna noted in an interview that it was your turn to take center stage. If you could pay that forward to any up-and-coming artist, who would it be and why?

Slimwav. He’s an incredible creative who literally does it all. He actually co-produced a few of my songs over the years, and I JUST recorded a feature on his new project. I’m so excited to see where his gifts take him! 

Pull up ‘powered’ the release of your new single – what did that process look like and how did Pull Up ease that path?

Whew, I’m so grateful for Pull Up! I’m an independent artist by choice, and when it comes to creating I have an abundance of inspiration, but not necessarily the means to see all those creative ideas come to life. This program gave me the chance to elevate my visuals and tell the story of my music at the level I envisioned for it. We shot TWO incredible videos for my new project, and it’s been amazing to expand on my creativity through the resources and support from Pull Up! 

If Pull Up was successful beyond its wildest dreams, what would the entertainment industry look like?

It would be a world where artists can focus on creativity and share their ideas and resources with one another to help elevate the standards of art. It would celebrate creatives at every level of their journey and take away the pressure of having to conform just to have visibility. Creatives would be compensated fairly for their art. Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

What’s next for you? Any progress on your musical or your dream to be on Broadway?

Everything! My intention is to unapologetically take up space in all the places that bring me joy. Music, writing, comedy, advocating for self-care and therapy…all of the things! I’d love to be on Broadway one day, and yes I’m still writing a musical so stay tuned! In the meantime I’m releasing my third album this year, writing a variety show with my husband Devin Johnson, and gearing up for season two of That’s My Jam on NBC! 

Let's Talk About Los Angeles . . .

What’s your favorite place to shop in LA?

Santee Alley.

What’s your favorite place to go out for nightlife?

I’m such a homebody, but I had a great time on the rooftop at Mama Shelter. 

What’s your favorite LA restaurant? 

Crossroads Kitchen

What’s your favorite day time activity?

Walking… the weather is ALWAYS accommodating.

What is one place a vacationer must visit? 

A dispensary!