One of the best-looking and hardest-working models to come out of the UK has now boldly decided to take her career to a whole new level. With microphone firmly in hand, Jasmia Robinson is preparing to sashay her way all the way to the top of the charts.
With her stunning, very striking looks, an extensive modelling portfolio and a body most women would kill for, you would think performing on stage would be a walk in the park – or strut down the catwalk in this case – for Jasmia Robinson. However, as she explains, the transition from model to performing artist has not been an easy one. “Every day is a learning curve. Even though I am a model I am quite shy and I don’t think a lot of people realise that. I have been so out of my comfort zone.
“I’ve also had to start performing, which is different because you have to be a character. When I’m in the studio they use different terminology, which I don’t understand and I’m like OK… you’re going to have to break this down for me [laughs]. I’ve learned about the head voice and the chest voice and all the different breathing techniques, so it has been a long process. People might think I’ve just gone in and recorded a track, but I’ve been in development for the last 11 months.”
Performing on stage and recording in the studio are just two aspects of the major music makeover that this catwalk queen has had to undergo.
“My singing teacher Maria is great. She’s very forward thinking. She pushes me – very much so. The singing lessons made me realise that I had the tone, but it was just being able to apply it with breathing techniques and being able to come out of my shell a little bit.”
The first single from her album, which is currently in production, is a cover version of an old reggae classic, ‘Ghetto Girl’, originally sung by John Holt. Although Jasmia’s version carries a modern, edgy twist, not many new artists choose to cover reggae classics – but this Top Model was pretty adamant.
“I am a big reggae fan. I grew up on a lot of reggae and I chose to do that particular cover. It’s a conscious message: A lot of my fans will be young women and I want them just to hear it from another female’s perspective. The message behind it is just to have respect for yourself and to be more productive.
“Every Sunday we would have music on at my house. My sister (who is five years older than me) would be in the corner doing the bogle and the butterfly, and my mum would be there joining in [laughs]. My mum loves all that… reggae, Studio One, Beres Hammond…”
With her mum clearly won over with the new career path, what does her dad make of all this?
“My dad is a very cynical person. Even when I was going on Britain’s Next Top Model, he was like, “You might not get on the show, but don’t worry, it’s OK…” And even when I got on, he was still like, “Don’t worry if you leave the show. It’s OK…” [laughs]. So my dad was very, very sceptical about me doing music, but the first time he heard ‘Ghetto Girl’ he cried, so it was really sweet. I’ve had a lot of support from friends as well. My friends from my old secondary school all wanted copies of the single, it was really sweet – but kind of crazy as well, because I’m still getting used to being an artist.”
A black woman’s weave can be a taboo topic, to the point you would think there is a secret code forbidding them from being mentioned in public. But Jasmia is not afraid of breaking boundaries or separating herself from the norm, which may explain why she is the first and only prominent figure to openly endorse a weave brand.
“I am the face of Sensationnel lace front wigs and hair pieces. I embrace it. I don’t lie about stuff; I’m more than happy to say ‘this is a wig’ or ‘this is a weave’ [laughs]. I think as a model you have to be a canvas anyway, so it’s no different. They are both really good brands so I’m honoured just to be one of their faces.”
Jasmia Vs The Critic
The great British public can be quite sceptical, harsh, even downright rude when it comes to anyone from TV embarking on a musical career. So we put Jasmia up against The Critic to see how she would fare.
“She can’t sing. She’s milking the Top Model thing…”
Some people have also said I’m not a model… Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I am used to criticism from modelling and in the industry in general. I want everyone to listen to my music for what it is. Not every track is going to be serious, but there are some with strong meanings behind them. I want people to have fun – if they don’t like it, fine, you can’t please everyone. If they do, even better!
“Putting out an album? I doubt she wrote any of the songs…”
I’ve cowritten a lot. A few tracks were sent from my management, but I had a lot of input too.
“The face of Sensationnel? She must get free weave…”
[Laughs] No comment.
Words by Trina John-Charles