We had the good fortune of connecting with J Quay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi J, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued an artistic and creative career because this talent and gift is always with me. I was gifted with it at birth and made it my mission to understand the different facets of it. I never will give up on it. Making it a career path is something that was evident I should do at a very young age. I knew I could be successful monetarily from singing early in life. I didn’t realize until I was much older that the most rewarding part of my career was changing lives when I create.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I want the world to know that I love to create and I have been doing this for so long that I am not intimidated by the millions with my talent. I have learned how original each and everyone that possess this talent is. Theres no competition. The only competition is with self. The challenges that I have overcome made me stronger and wiser in making some decisions that most would say crippled my career, but it actually strengthened it. I had to do a lot of praying and seeking for truth when making decisions because my mom trusted me to make them at such a young age when it came to singing. I battled with myself more than anyone around me when creating. I teach students that come to me for vocal advice that confidence is all that is required. They often rebuttal, “What about knowing how to sing?” I respond quickly, “When you lack confidence you can’t do anything. You can’t learn anything and you can’t teach confidence it must be taken.” When I am asked to accomplish something that I am confident that I will get it done to the best of my ability.
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.
Yes, so if a good friend is coming into Houston, Texas – my city – the first stop after picking them up from the airport would definitely be to dine at one of the thousands of restaurants in Houston. Fifth Level has some great Turkey Burgers and Fries, and or maybe we would stop at Sunshines for some vegan cuisine. Hanging out in Houston’s midtown area near Cyclone’s Aniya’s would be a hit too. I would definitely take them for a drive to the beaches in Freeport, Surfside Beach and hang there for a day. I love to show off our rich neighborhoods here and show them what real mansions look like in Texas as well so a drive down Memorial Drive would be where I would head next. I would even head over to River Oaks before stopping by Local Foods Cafe for a bite to eat afterwards. Because its COVID season we probably would chill at home for the remainder of the trip, and reminisce laugh and catch up on our lives. Of course most of my out of town friends would not leave until they’ve heard what new projects I am working on So, a stop at a friends studio would also be the highlight of their visit to hear me jam out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can truly shout out a page full of names that helped me continue this long and exciting journey of singing and songwriting, but I would be lying if I didn’t dedicate this one section to my God Uncle Rozelle Mosley. Rozelle had worked with some of the best in the industry in the early 70’s, and went on tour with some of the hottest bands singing background and playing various instruments so he knew the industry very well. He nurtured this talent in me at the very young age of 11 years old, and helped me professionally produce my first single, “I Cant Take No Lies”. My journey with him began when my mom heard me singing a few songs I’d written. She worked for the government at the time, and had access to all sort of resources for copywriting and she immediately sent in the copyrights to those songs. She didn’t stop there. She linked me up with Rozelle who was already considered family, and married to whom she referred to as her niece. She sent Rozelle a cassette tape of me singing without any music, and the rest was history. I remember it like it was yesterday, arriving to he and his wife Tonya’s apartment on the SW side of Houston to listen to a surprise he had for me. He’d created music for my song just by hearing me sing it. I thought it was more than a surprise. It was magic! He started the music up and said, “sing your song.” I sung that song like I’d heard the music arrangement before, and came in right on time in the right spots. He always says it blew his mind to see someone so young (age 11) know music like I did. He went on to teach me vocal skills that I use till this day to make some of the best song arrangements and more. From ad-libs to modulating a song and harmonies. At the age of 17 we formulated a gospel group called, “The Gospel Sounds of Soul” and completed an album that was recognized by the Dove awards in 1997 where they extended an invite to us. Also, we were recognized overseas in London for a top grossing gospel album. Too bad someone stole the masters for that album from us and has capitalized off the proceeds. But again, the greatest feeling ever is knowing that someone was touched by something I created. He was definitely the biggest motivator for me when I was younger as I pursued my singing career. With Rozelle producing my tracks and recording me professionally, I was able to present my talent to some of the greatest in the industry, from Electra Records, Jermaine Dupri, and my favorite, Lou Rawls. I will always be reminded to give back to someone else what he poured into me, and I am ever so grateful to him.
Photos by Present The Vision & Anni Peng