Ja-tun paints soul-inspired self-portrait

Ja-Tun will give you a slice of her mind. The R&B, soul and spoken-word artist based in Trenton catches her audience with infectious rhythms and hooks them with thought-provoking lyrics.

The title track of the songstress’ 2007 sampler, “A Slice of My Mind,” is a spoken-word piece that paints a revealing portrait of the humanity and vulnerability of Ja-Tun.

“I am behind the glass windowpane through which you examine me,” she says in the track, “Like a Zoo Animal in a Cage.”

From listening to Beethoven while still in the womb, to scribbling lyrics and poems in the margins of her high-school notebooks, Ja-Tun has always recognized the ability of poetry and music to act as emotional outlets.

“I write mostly about what I know, what I’ve felt and what I’ve been through, but I don’t make it too specific,” Ja-Tun said. “I want the emotion that it comes from to be real, but the song to be open enough that someone else can hear it and think that I wrote it for them and where they are in their life right now.”

“Now That You’re Gone,” another track off “A Slice of My Mind,” is about the feeling of wanting someone back after they’re no longer in your life.

“Now that you’re gone, all I could want is that you come back and stay awhile,” Ja-Tun says in the heartfelt and haunting refrain.

Ja-Tun is coordinating several open-mic events in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area and loves performing live.

“My good friend Rahzel, formerly from the Roots, puts it best: ‘Performing live and vibing with the crowd is the best natural high a person can ask for. Making someone else smile, laugh, cry and feel something real based on what you give them is a new level of connecting yourself with the people in the world around you,'” she said.

“You Can’t Deny Me,” the third track from Ja-Tun’s album sampler, in which she’s only accompanied by a piano, is a soulful, emotional track that tests the artist’s vocal range.

“I approach a piece with an emotion, a new space and feeling that I’d like to explore thoroughly to describe all the elements of being in that place,” Ja-Tun said.

“When I finish a piece, I want my audience to nod and say, ‘Yeah, I know that feeling.’ That’s when music has transcended the technical elements and stopped being good or bad but instead is real, relatable and an overall experience,” she said.

In addition to being a musician, poet, performer and event coordinator, Ja-Tun is an entrepreneur. She runs the Project S.O.N. artist development firm and one of its networking services, MusicBuilder.Org. Project S.O.N.’s MySpace page describes the group as providing “vehicles for people who are serious about making the investment in themselves toward pursuing their dreams related to the music industry.”

“I didn’t take music seriously as a profession for a long time because I figured I’d have to do something practical and focused on academics and the professional world,” Ja-Tun said. “Now I get to make creativity my practicality.”

Ja-Tun has the passion, musicality and tenacity to deliver something genuine in an industry where so much is driven by the superficial.

“I get onstage and say, screw what they say or think about me now, my talent is what it is so it’s too late to worry about it,” Ja-Tun said. “I just have to do what I know how to do and play to whoever likes it. Everyone else is free to leave until I’m done.”