March 22, 2019
Blue is an emotional color, often used to convey gloom and melancholy. Innovative painter Picasso had an entire period in his career shaped by a deep depression in which he used only blue hues. But blue can also be brilliant, like the perfect droplet of a peacock’s body or the vast power felt in the roar of the sea. On Friday, March 29, the color takes on a fitting soundscape with Dexter Jordan’s first ever full-length release entitled, Blue. When asked about why Jordan chose the moody color as his first album’s namesake, he shared that blue is not only his favorite color but it symbolizes the pain he’s been through since losing his mother and best friend just a few years ago.
Both the lyrics and the album’s tone incorporate cooling hues mixed carefully off Jordan’s blue palette with the help of Charlotte producer, Jason Jet who recorded all the tracks. Additional contributions were also provided by Jon Blount, Jonny Fung, saxophonist Walker Smith, and Chris Williams aka Yung Citizen. Interludes of voicemails left from Jordan’s family members, including his late mother, add an intimate glimpse into how much pain the singer has experienced. Finishing the album, however, has been cathartic and given him a sense of relief to finally have his art out into the world.
“I’ve been remembering the old times, I get flashbacks, and I understand the loss enough now, years later that I can fully honor the people who’ve passed in my life by being the person they knew me as– a singer,” Jordan said. “I’m putting out the album in March because that’s the month my mom passed away in, so I can have a sense of happiness during the pain.”
Jordan has been singing all his life. His mother influenced him by singing in their church while his father was a minister of music. He grew up going to church seemingly 24/7, singing on the Praise Team and travelling with his father. After his mother passed, however, Jordan went silent, closing himself off as he struggled with the loss. While continuing a relationship with God, he admitted that being in church isn’t the same without his mother although he’s looking forward to his continued healing, which may possibly bring him back to the sanctuaries of his youth, and is gracefully giving himself time to accept the process.
Jordan has the luxurious voice of Shamir or John Legend, and Blue opens up as an artistically paced confessional. Jason Jet’s ear and careful attention throughout the album is one of the most striking aspects; Jet manages to evoke intensely surreal and personal emotions as if Jordan’s mother and friend were in the studio beside them.
“Jason just started to play music and I was so emotional because what he played was exactly the mood I felt when listening to my mom’s voicemail,” Jordan said. “I definitely felt their presence, and their spirits in making the album and Jason captured that.”
Yung Citizen is a close friend of Jordan’s and the singer credits YC with helping him get back into music and express himself again. After spending time without using his voice, creating and releasing Blue is something he never imagined would happen.
“With this album, I didn’t try to be anyone else. I just really wanted to be myself. I wanted to show, even years from now, show myself that I could do it and that my mother and close best friend would be proud of me for continuing on. “Things happen and you have to make a choice: are you gonna stop or are you gonna continue? I know some people do stop, but I just felt like I had too many people that wanted me to continue, including my mom and my friend, so I chose to say yes.”
Blue is as much a healing process for Jordan as it is a tribute to the love he feels toward his late mother and friend, and the endurance he’s found within himself to push forward. The album art, created by Quincy Woodard incorporates a quadrant of seasons with Jordan defiantly staring ahead as portraits of his mother and friend laugh alongside him.
The single “Me” off the album, is a song Jordan said pays homage to queen Erykah Badu who also has a song by the same title.
“I’ve picked different aspects of myself apart and I’m finally able to say, ‘this is me, this is how God created me.’ As a kid I was made fun of for my kinky hair, my big lips, because I didn’t meet the media’s standard of beauty that was thrown at me,” he said. “For a long time I didn’t realize how beautiful my hair was and yes my lips are big but so is my heart. We’re all beautiful and ‘Me’ is about finding the beauty in yourself.” This sentiment is a constant theme throughout Jordan’s album, where he acknowledges turmoil but works to find grace and beauty in it all, despite whatever painful hardship is tossed at him.
“This whole process has been so spiritual, I feel like it was meant to be and this is the right time to put out my music. I’m nervous but I feel like I’m ready and I’ve never felt that before because I’m so hard on myself,” Jordan said. “It’s an honor and I’m so thankful people want to experience this with me. I’m excited to have everyone together, my brother and sister will be there, and there’s so much I’ve kept secret with this album because I want a few surprises and for everyone to be able to experience and heal together on the release night.”
Jordan will present the full album with a live performance at Resident Culture Brewing on Friday, March 29 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., hosted by friend Mariah Scott of Peculiar Talks and DJ Vintage Glassis.
*Catch Dexter Jordan opening for Charlotte’s Anthony Hamilton, Thursday, May 9 at Romare Bearden Park.