By Shelah Moody
Photo by Douglass Washington
Mykia Jovan performs at 8 p.m., Friday, July 6, Good Vibes Superlounge, 2018, Essence Festival, Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA. essence.com.
She’s a bit Erykah Badu, a bit Ledisi, a bit Teena Marie and a bit Nina Simone. She’s a bit R&B and a bit jazz, she says, but most importantly, Mykia Jovan is a storyteller.
Jovan, one of the hottest young stars to emerge from New Orleans, performs for the first time at the 2018 Essence Festival at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on July 6.
For Jovan, who maintains a regular Sunday night gig at the Blue Nile on Frenchman Street in New Orleans, performing at Essencefest on the bill with the likes of Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia and Ledisi is a dream come true.
“I have so much in my back pocket that I’m going to take some chances on for this performance,” Jovan said. “It’s only 45 minutes, so I’m gonna go big!”
Born and raised in New Orleans, Jovan studied theater at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She ventured into music because she was trying to avoid auditioning through the theater process, she said.
“Music has definitely helped me build my confidence,” said Jovan. “I’ve been privileged to work at the Blue Nile and cut my teeth on the stage and take my time and figure out my craft.”
In April of this year, Jovan performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, affectionately known to locals as Jazzfest, for the for the first time as a solo act with her own band.
“I’ve done Jazziest a few times with Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, but this was my first time being able to present myself and my original music,” said Jovan. “It was very exciting and I had a great time.”
Sunday nights at the Blue Nile, Jovan and her band perform songs from her debut album, “Elliyahu,” independently produced and recorded in New Orleans. Once you hear tracks from “Elliyahu,” such as “Creep,” “Feast on the Flower,” “Idle Mind” and “16 Shots,” which addresses the long running obsession with race, class and skin color in the south, you will be hooked. Here’s a clip of her Blue Nile performance:
“Blend in, and stay out the sun, because the darker you are, the shorter the run,” Jovan sings in soaring soprano.
“The title means ‘highest, most exhausted one,’ but I added an ‘L’ to the name to kind of take away the idea of me speaking about God and more about idolatry—how we find God in people and how interpersonal relationships affect personal growth and development as individuals,” said Jovan.
“The whole album is centered around times in my life where I felt that I was looking outside of myself for something that was already the inside. That’s what you heard tonight—a bunch of love songs reaching for someone, and then eventually, I figure out how to reach within myself.”
Follow her @ mykiajovan.com.