Jessica Ellen Cornish (born 27 March 1988), better known by her stage name Jessie J, is an English singer and songwriter. Born and raised in London, she began her career on stage, aged 11, with a role in the West End musical Whistle Down the Wind. She studied at the BRIT School before signing with Gut Records and striking a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing where she wrote for artists including Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus.
After signing with Universal Republic, Jessie J came to prominence following the release of her debut single “Do It Like a Dude”. Her next song “Price Tag” topped the charts in nineteen countries including the UK and was followed by the release of her debut album Who You Are (2011), which charted at number two in the UK. Other releases from the album included “Nobody’s Perfect”, and “Who You Are”, “Domino” and “Laserlight”, which all which all charted within the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart, making Jessie J the first British female artist to have six top ten singles from a studio album. “Domino” also resulted in further international chart success, peaking at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 and becoming her second number-one single in the UK. In 2012 Jessie J performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in June, as well as the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London on 12 August.
Her second album Alive (2013) reached the top 5 in the UK Albums Chart and also included the top-five hit songs “Wild” and “It’s My Party”. The release of her third album Sweet Talker (2014) was preceded by the single “Bang Bang” which debuted at number one in the UK and went multi-platinum worldwide. The album made the top 5 in the UK and reached number 10 on the US Billboard 200, her highest-charting album in the US. As of January 2015, Jessie J had sold over 20 million singles and 3 million albums worldwide.
Citing various influences, Jessie J is recognised for an unconventional musical and performance style that mixes soul vocals with contemporary R&B, pop, electropop, and hip-hop beats. Jessie J has garnered various awards and nominations for her music, including the 2011 Critics’ Choice Brit Award and the BBC’s Sound of 2011. Jessie J has supported various charitable causes, and has appeared on the UK charity telethons BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief. She has served as coach and mentor on the television shows The Voice UK and The Voice Australia.
Jessica Ellen Cornish was born in London, to Rose (née Archer) and Stephen Cornish. She was educated at Mayfield High School in the London Borough of Redbridge. She attended Colin’s Performing Arts School and as an 11-year-old she was cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production of Whistle Down the Wind. She subsequently joined the National Youth Music Theatre and appeared in their 2002 production of The Late Sleepers.
Cornish has two sisters, who are five and seven years older than she is, who were both head girls at school. Unlike her academic sisters, Cornish has stated she was “never really that good at anything”. She said, “At school they were like ‘oh, you’re a Cornish girl’ and they kind of expected me to be the same as my sisters. Give me something to draw or an outfit to pick for someone, or hair, make-up, acting, write a song, I’m fine with it, but anything to do with sums – it was never my thing.” She also said she never based her intelligence on her exam results. She also said she was always good at singing and it was her “thing”. In 2003, aged 15, she won Best Pop Singer in the TV show Britain’s Brilliant Prodigies, performing as Jessica Cornish. At the age of 16 she began studying at the BRIT School and at 17 she joined a girl group named Soul Deep. She graduated in the class of 2006 along with singers Adele and Leona Lewis. At 18, she claims she suffered a ‘minor stroke.’ As for her stage name…”To be honest, there’s no real reason for the ‘J’ in my stage name.
Although Jessie J was first identified as a soul singer, she primarily records songs of R&B and pop music with hip hop influences. Music critic Matthew Perpetua of Pitchfork Media compared Jessie J to her peers Adele and Amy Winehouse, but suggested she was missing something: “Whereas Adele and Winehouse also have powerhouse voices, they fit into clear aesthetic niches and invest their songs with depth and humanity. Jessie J doesn’t have even a fraction of their restraint.” Perpetua added: “Her idea of showcasing her gift is to shoot for a blaring melisma on “Mamma Knows Best” that makes Christina Aguilera seem as subtle as Joni Mitchell by comparison.
Ailbhe Malone of the music magazine NME also recognised Cornish’s “undeniably potent voice”. However, she pointed out the possible “identity crisis” that might have been caused by Jessie’s songwriter past: “This is an album of singles for other artists. There’s Rihanna Jessie (‘Do It…’), Perry Jessie (‘Abracadabra’), Pixie Jessie (‘Mamma Knows Best’), Ellie Jessie (‘Big White Room’).” Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian shared her positive opinion about the singer, saying that “if any singer has the potential to be the British Katy Perry or Pink, with the accompanying millions of sales, it’s her”. Sullivan also complimented Cornish’s attitude: “Her songs are delivered with a confidence that money can’t buy.” Jessie J. has been compared to Katy Perry, and has expressed admiration for Perry’s music and her work ethic.. She said, “Her hard work, her dedication, and how she deals with having the world stare at her every move, personally and professionally, with such dignity and strength, is inspiring.”
Entertainment Weekly’s music critic Adam Markovitz said of Jessie: “The 23-year-old Brit has all the tools, from a monster voice to an ear for hooks — she co-wrote Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ — and a manic persona that’s equal parts Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth, and Alice Cooper.”
Jessie J calls her fans “heartbeats”, after her Heartbeat Tour. Of her fans, she has said, “They’re amazing, and they’re the only reason I’m here at the VMAs and people know who I am … They support me and buy my albums and singles, and they stand outside hotels, and they come to shows, and they get tattoos of my lyrics and they cut their hair like me. You have to love your fans. That’s why I call them my Heartbeats, because without them I wouldn’t be here.
In early 2011, Jessie J suffered a panic attack on stage after she was forced to perform in the dark. “I did a gig recently and had a panic attack on stage,” she told NOW. “The night was called ‘Black Out’ and I had to perform in the dark. I asked them to turn on the lights and they didn’t. I was onstage in pitch black and, because I couldn’t see anything, I started to panic. It was awful.”
Asked about her bisexuality in an interview on the “In Demand” radio show on 3 March 2011, Jessie J stated, “I’ve never denied it. Whoopie doo guys, yes, I’ve dated girls and I’ve dated boys – get over it.” According to The Guardian, Jessie J’s sexuality is valuable to young teens, especially for young girls unsure of themselves because of their sexuality and identity, to feel “that this does happen and this is normal.” In April 2014, Jessie J renounced her bisexuality in an interview with Daily Mirror ’s “3am” celebrity tabloid; “For me, it was a phase. But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody”, she said.
She is a supporter of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur F.C.. In 2014, Jessie J relocated from London to Los Angeles, California. She cited work opportunities and dissatisfaction with the level of focus in the UK on her personal life rather than on her singing, saying, “In America they see me as a singer whereas here I feel that people don’t appreciate my voice.” In November she confirmed that she was dating American singer Luke James.
Jessie J identifies as a feminist.