Jazmine Sullivan on Her Famously Raspy Voice and Wanting to Sound Like Mariah Carey

Jazmine Sullivan - Lead - 1
Photo: Naomi Driessnack for InStyle.com

R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan is known for the incredible richness of her warm raspy tone. But when she stopped by InStyle's New York offices last week to discuss her music, we were surprised to learn that she wasn't always comfortable with the sound that's made her famous. "When I was younger I wanted to sound so much like the artists that were out at the time," said Sullivan. That included the one and only Mariah Carey. "She always had that high beautiful voice and my voice was so different." Luckily that didn't stop her. Growing up, Sullivan sang gospel music and listened to Lauryn Hill until she found her unique sound. "I'd say I got most comfortable with my voice around middle school," she said. "I finally understood that my voice is what it is. Then, I realized that people were interested in hearing me sing because of it."

After her second album Love Me Back came out in 2010, Sullivan took a four-year hiatus from the industry to do some soul searching. But when the songstress returned to the scene earlier this year, she came back in a big way: Her album Reality Show hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. One of the most meaningful songs on the album was a soft ballad titled "Masterpiece," which tells a story of realizing one's inner beauty. (She even performed it for InStyle's staffers, see below.) "I named it 'Masterpiece' because I dealt with learning to love myself," explained Sullivan. "It's been a difficult journey for me, so now I feel like I'm at a place where I am comfortable with who I am."

As for what's next from the singer, she hinted to us that she is working on collaborations with Frank Ocean and Sam Smith. But, most importantly, she's continuing to love herself for who she is. "That's something that I want all people to do," she said. "We are all beautiful, and that's why I try to show off what I've got. I want people to love themselves and love everything about themselves, regardless if they're thin or if they're big. I find that the things that make you different are the things that attract people to you."

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