We had the good fortune of connecting with Jarreau Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jarreau, why did you pursue a creative career?
From an early age, I knew deep down that I had a passion for the arts. As a child, I would watch my favorite movies and TV shows repetitiously until I knew all of the lines and songs. I joined choir early in elementary school and sang my first solo in fourth grade. Singing, acting, and drawing always excited me. I participated in musicals and chorus until my senior year of high school and when I was nominated for a region-wide acting award by my peers, I saw the possibilities to pursue the arts as a career. The arts is the only community where I feel a sense of purpose and belonging. I’ve worked lots of jobs that after 3-4 years found me looking for the next move. With the arts, I’ve always seen it as a life long journey…. seeking to learn and improve in any way I can no matter how many times I failed.
Then in 2016, I had a near death experience that completely changed my perspective of life. About 16 months after the incident, I left my corporate job to pursue music and entertainment full time and have been doing it ever since. I found that if we don’t pursue what we love, we’ll spend our entire lives thinking about “what if”,,, and I couldn’t have that on my conscience.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The proudest thing I’ve observed about my artistic process over the last five years is how vulnerable the songwriting has become. I’ve never been one to just imitate what’s popular. All of my lyrics are designed to make the listener explore their imagination intellectually. When I first started making music, I played it “safe” because I wondered what people would think if I said the things I really thought about. I’ve found for an artist that is the biggest mistake one can make. It’s your story and no one else’s. I’ve learned to embrace my uniqueness and individuality. My advice to any artist is to write what’s real to you. Life is special in the fact that there are certain stories that must be told… and not just for ourselves. Someone in the world NEEDS what we are sharing. With all of the music I’m currently working on, I’m excited to see that vision get one step closer to being realized. Every new lyric, sound, and rhythm pattern unlocks a new element in my creative process.
To say it was easy getting here would be a lie, Every single day is a struggle. So many thoughts dominate my mind daily like… Is my release going to be a hit or a bust?… How will I catch people’s attention today?… Is this song even worth releasing?… I’ve got a show tonight and what on Earth am I wearing that fits me right?!? Rejection, criticism, and comparison are the toughest things to deal with in this industry, but the thing that always helps me through that is simply doing the work. Focusing on my influences and the music that made me excited as a child is the foundation. Leading each day with optimism, openness, a positive attitude, and readiness to be a team player when called upon has led me to this point in my career. I’ve never had an issue being an open book and sharing my successes and failures because that is how solid relationships are formed. The more genuine you are, the deeper the connections will be. My daily hope is that what I say resonates with someone to that extent.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Washington, DC area is filled with so much diversity and history. When most people visit our area, they immediate think its a politically driven town. That is far from the truth. To show someone a great time, I’d start from the center and work my way out. We would start with the Smithsonian; all of which you can’t see in a day. My particular favorites are the Natural History, American, and African-American museums. We would walk the National Mall so they can take pictures at the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Memorials while observing the sights. We’d travel by metro so you explore the stations, views, and go anywhere in the region. I started riding the metro alone as a young teenager and would love seeing all the city had to offer. Depending on the time of year, sporting events will always be a part of the equation. Whether its going to see the Washington Capitals (NHL) or Washington Nationals (MLB), there’s an excitement in the air when those teams play and our DC fanbase is very loyal.
I’m a huge supporter of local businesses and friends who own various establishments, so we’d head down to The Midlands Beer Garden or St. Vincent Wine to enjoy a peaceful outdoor lunch or early dinner. But you can’t be in DC without going to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street for a classic half smoke while listening to go-go and jazz on the streets. Also, don’t forget to take a picture by the mural of iconic African-American figures. For nightlife, The Wharf in SW DC has bars and restaurants right on the water. There are also some concert venues like Pearl Street Warehouse and The Anthem on site so we could catch a show. I always love seeing how other artists perform. Lastly, one of my favorite things to do is go for rides and watch airplanes take off from Reagan National Airport. Most people hang out at Hains Point or Gravelly Point to do this. Or for the nature seekers, we could drive to Roosevelt Island or Great Falls for a hike. There’s a little something for everyone here.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I thank God for everything I have and everything I’ve been through. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My faith is a strong reason why I’m still pursuing this career. The days when I think its over, God opens another door with new opportunities. Through Him, I’m able to take the next step in life even if I don’t know where its leading.
My parents for teaching me valuable lessons along the way. Both of them worked very hard and instilled a strong work ethic in me at an early age. My mom has been an educator for 35 years and was adamant about ensuring that I was an intelligent, well mannered, and socially aware African-American male. My father has a very artistic side as he also likes to sing and draw. He used to be in a band with his friends in his 20s. They have been very supportive of my dreams and aspirations, especially when they’ve witnessed firsthand how hard I work to reach my goals. I thank them for their sacrifice to ensure I had the best life possible.
My teachers at every level saw something in me and expected the best from me each and every day. I still keep in touch with a lot of them and I’m grateful for those connections.