JayLyriq pronounced J-Lirik (Atlanta)
By Kandis Knight
JayLyriq born James Michael Cohen Jr. is an up and coming Tallahassee based R & B crooner whose edgy, hardcore street tracks and deeply spiritual harmonic vocals have captured the ears of many music industry heavy weights including Matthew Knowles and Convict Records Recording artist T-Pain. It is no surprise the music industry is buzzing with the anticipation of his debut solo album to be released in 2007 on T-Pain’s label, Nappy Boy Entertainment.
JayLyriq began mastering his vocal gifts young. “I was real into Sam Cooke. My grandmother always played the Temptations and Otis Redding. I also sang in Church for as long as I can remember so did my mother and her mother, I come from a long line of soulful singers.”
The young soulful vocalist was trained by the Church of Christ which sternly requires spirituals be sung acapella. “We didn’t have choirs, pianos or guitars because we believed that we are to sing using your own instruments given to us by God, our own vocals.”
At twelve years old, the hunger to perform caused JayLyriq to venture outside of the Church walls to form a five member R & B group called Ob’Cession. “We entered all of the talent shows we could find and we never lost one.” Eventually Ob’Cession became known as Next Level and in 2001, the group lost a key member.
With all of the personal changes the group encountered, JayLyriq felt a bond with the rising yet “embattled” female group, Destiny’s Child. “One day we got the address off the internet and jumped in the car and drove to Houston without stopping. When we arrived, Matthew Knowles just happened to be standing outside and welcomed us in, we blew him away.”
Singing in front of Matthew Knowles was an honor, however at the time, Music World was going through growing pains of its own as each member of Destiny’s Child began working on solo projects. A recording deal never manifested.
In 2004, Lou Pearlman invited Next Level to Orlando to perform at Fashion Rock. Next Level won the competition and was offered a recording contract but walked away from it. “We felt there were other opportunities brewing at the time so we kept our options open.”
In 2005, the group disbanded and JayLyriq considered a solo career.
JayLyriq confided in his old school friend T-Pain before deciding to go solo. “He told me not to worry that I would be his back up singer and that he was gong to release me as his solo artist.” At the time T. Pain’s single “I’m Sprung” began to set the charts on fire.
“One day T. Pain showed up at my construction job and told me it was time to go. I threw down my construction hat and walked off the job, just like that and never looked back. The next thing I know we were opening for Brian McKnight and traveling the world.”
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