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How Did Jessie J Make It?

560x200-coverThe music business can be full of disappointments and apparent walls. But when you want it, you keep going -says Lisa Popeil

Jessie J, was born Jessica Cornish in London in 1988.

She attended ‘Colin’s Performing Arts School’ and at the age of 11 was cast in a West End production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Whistle Down the Wind. Subsequently, she joined the ‘National Youth Music Theatre’.

At the age of 15, Jessie won Best Pop Singer in the TV show Britain’s Brilliant Prodigies, performing as Jessica Cornish and attended ‘The Brit School’ in the Musical Theatre program along with school-mates Adele and Leona Lewis.

Record Company Bankruptcy

In 2006, Jessie J was signed to independent Gut Records , during which time she wrote over 100 songs.

After recording an album for the label, and right when she was about to release her first single, the record company went bankrupt.

Her manager, Ray Stevenson, spent £70,000 of his own money to get Jessie J released from her Gut Records contract.

Several years later, Stevenson sued her and won £1 million from the earnings of her triple-platinum debut album ‘Who You Are’.

After Gut Records folded, she approached UK labels attempting to get signed but was rejected.


Initial Success

She did find success as a songwriter, gaining a Sony ATV publishing contract.

Jessie has also written lyrics for artists such as Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus including the #2 hit ‘Party in the USA’, the proceeds of which paid her bills for over three years.

With her next management, Crown Talent, Jessie J presented showcases in LA and New York and secured a recording deal with Universal Republic/Lava Records.

In 2008, she was the opening act for a Cyndi Lauper tour.

Jessie J has a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which resulted in a stroke in 2008.

Jessie J performing her hit single 'Price Tag' in 2012.

Jessie J performing her hit single ‘Price Tag’ in 2012.

In 2011, Jessie J’s single “Do It Like a Dude” debuted and peaked at #2 on the UK Singles Charts, followed by her chart-topping song “Price Tag”.

The first album ‘Who You Are’ was released and boasted 6 Top Ten singles.

Now 26 years old, Jessie J just released her third album ‘Sweet Talker’ and has relocated to Los Angeles.


  1. Having the opportunity to perform at a young age gives one a head-start in stage skills.
  2. The music business can be full of disappointments and apparent walls. But when you want it, you keep going.
  3. Write songs like your career depends on it. Spend every waking hour honing your writing.
  4. Her song “Do It Like a Dude” was written to be controversial and get attention. It worked.
  5. Health challenges don’t necessarily stop you from working toward your goals.
  6. Picking a catchy name based on your own name can make you memorable without having to lose your identity.

This is the sixth article in the series. Missed last week’s? Find out how Bruno Mars made it!

Next: How Did Lorde Make It?

Lisa Popeil

Lisa Popeil is one of LA’s top voice coaches. She is the creator of the ‘Daily Vocal Workout for Pop Singers’ CD download (for Male and Female) as well as the Voiceworks® Method and the Total Singer DVD, conducts cutting-edge voice research, lectures internationally and is a vocal health consultant. Lisa is a voting member of NARAS, the Grammy® organization, ASCAP, AFTRA and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. www.popeil.com