Jessica Childress
Naturalista of the Week

Who is Jessica Childress?

Jessica Childress, who you may remember from season 4 of NBC’s The Voice, is an explosive talent new to the music industry. Based in LA, she is reminiscent of the golden age of classic soul, with a voice that has been compared to Diana Ross and Alicia Keys. She combines traditional R&B with a rock n' roll style, a deadly combination that landed her a spot on Team Usher with her soulful rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.”

Although she comes from a family of amazing vocalists, for most of her upbringing she was exposed to the sacred music of her church choir. When Jessica left her small town of Lancaster, CA for Pepperdine University in Malibu, she encountered a whole new world of music. At college, Jessica discovered classic soul, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Music became her life and Jessica divided her college years between studying music and public relations, singing and teaching piano.
 
Post Pepperdine, Jessica acknowledged post-grad realities and took on a career in PR to support herself, sidelining her musical ambitions. Unwilling to completely abandon her music, Jessica joined a vaudeville band, through which she met her husband who later encouraged her to seriously pursue her raw, natural talent. Shortly after, Jessica took the plunge and quit her job, her inspiration for her new single “I Quit.”

Just two days after her honeymoon in 2012, she took a leap at the blind auditions on The Voice stage and Adam Levine pronounced certainly, “I wanna marry her!”  But Usher won her.

After battling it out against fellow Team Usher-ite Vedo on Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” she was sent home, but has since commanded stages from Texas to New York. She has drawn sold-out crowds and released her debut EP, Don't Forget My Name, in February. It is available now on iTunes and other major online retailers. 

Watch her video for "I Quit" and read an exclusive NEWDmagazine review of her album Don’t Forget My Name.

How long have you been natural?

I had my last relaxer December of 2011. I didn't want to do a big chop and have really short hair; so, instead I transitioned for about a year and a half with twist-outs and weaves. I waited until my new growth was about chin length to cut off the relaxed ends. 

Why did you decide to go natural?

I did it for a couple of reasons. I guess the first one was that I became pretty concerned about the chemicals in the relaxers I'd been using my whole life. I watched Chris Rock's "Good Hair" and there was a little piece about ammonium thioglycolate (the main chemical in relaxers) that really freaked me out. The other reason is that I had never seen what my natural texture was like. I had been putting relaxers in my hair since I was in single digits and never even knew what my "real" hair looked like. The transitioning was tough for me because I had always had long thick hair that was reasonably easy to care for, and while I was transitioning, it was hard for me to find a style that I liked. When I finally cut off all the relaxed ends, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that my natural curls were so pretty and healthy. The whole process was a real lesson for me in being happy with my most natural and authentic self.

What is your fave styling product?

I use Kinky Kurly Knot Today leave-in conditioner and their Curling Custard. I also use a little bit of Grapeseed Oil and rake it through my hair. Hear her tell radio host Tiffani Knowles her life, love and hair secrets on The Naked Truth interview in April.

What is your fave natural hairstyle?

I live in a wash 'n go. It's a style that I can get the most volume from (big hair is a must for me!) and for me it's really the most time-effective. I don't like to spend a lot of time in the mirror in the mornings, so a style that I can accomplish in about 10 minutes start to finish is important. I've finally found my "holy grail" products that allow me to get consistent texture and style with my WNG. I also love the second and third-day hair that I get - it just gets bigger and more ridiculous which I love!

- Week of June 30, 2014

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