Tracey: How would you describe your latest CD?
Juanita: I describe my sound as “Universal S-O-U-L”—which is a combination of Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Gospel. I like to call it an “eclectic mix” of good vibes.
Tracey: Did you write any of your own lyrics for the CD?
Juanita: I write all of my own songs, as well as arrange and co-produce. I think it is important for an artist to capture his or her own voice. I know my own experiences and my own responses, so who can tell the JUANITA story better than me?
Tracey: You are a member of the African American Advisory Council on mental illness. How & why did you get involved with this particular illness?
Juanita: WOW! I am so excited about this…I am a huge advocate in the fight against stigma with regards to mental illness. My mother suffered from schizophrenia and as a result of her battle, she committed suicide. I have been sharing my story to encourage others to “speak out” and get the help they need. I have become a spokesperson on this issue, as I’ve witnessed the impact that disclosure can have on families who “suffer in silence”.
Tracey: After performing in the films “Summer Of Sam” and “ The Tavern” do you find acting enjoyable and given the opportunity, is it something you will continue to do?
Juanita: The extra role that I played in “Summer of Sam” as a protester was a great deal of fun. I was able to experience firsthand the making of a movie—and what a great inspiration it was working under the direction of the great Spike Lee. If given the right opportunity, I wouldn’t mind doing some more acting. I’m just going to leave myself open to possibilities.
Tracey: What would your ideal night out be?
Juanita: My ideal night out would be maybe an opera, theatre, or jazz club with great food and interesting company.
Tracey: G&J Consulting Services is a company you formed to help aspiring artists and entrepreneurs and for which you have received awards. When did you set the company up and is it easy committing to this as well as your musical career?
Juanita: G&J Consulting Services was set up about six years ago. This was right after I decided to take a break from performing. In addition to being an entertainer, I also hold dual degrees in Marketing and Human Services: Mental Health. So, I am artistic, creative and business-oriented. Since I am recently coming back into the music scene, doing both hasn’t been difficult (yet). It is wonderful to utilize all of my passions and talents - and make money from them.
Tracey: Do you have brothers and sisters or any family of your own?
Juanita: Yes, I do have siblings. Everyone is doing their own thing. Right now, I am single.
Tracey: Is there a person in your life/who has been in your life, who has made a big impact on you as a person or as an artist?
Juanita: Honestly, every person who has entered my life has had an impact on me. I think people enter your life, for a reason and a season to teach you certain things. Some have been positive situations, others not so pleasant - but significant.
Tracey: What/who makes you laugh?
Juanita: I make myself laugh. I am a trip! I have a great zest for life and a sharp tongue. But to answer your question, my family & friends keep me grounded and laughing.
Tracey: Do you have a favourite song which you enjoy performing?
Juanita: My favourite song depends on my mood or the stage I am at in my life. There are certain songs that reflect your emotions at a particular time - and this is how it works for me.
Tracey: What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time to help you relax?
Juanita: I enjoy reading, going to the gym, listening to music, or just watching television. I MUST have my scented candles. Lately, I’ve been getting more into gourmet cooking and this has been relaxing.
Tracey: You often perform live in your hometown of New York. Do you have any plans to perform elsewhere in 2007?
Juanita: Actually, I’ve performed across the US and abroad. When I started my career, I honed my skills in NY, probably because this is where I resided at the time.
Tracey: There have probably been many, but what would you say has been the happiest memory in your life so far.
Juanita: What a great question! Now that I reflect on my past, my happiest memories are of my mother. She was a very witty, strong, and independent woman. When I think of her, it really makes me smile.
Tracey: Which has been your biggest gig so far?
Juanita: I recently did two large conferences at the Sheraton in NY and Hilton in NJ for Working Mother Media/National Association for Female Executives and a holiday luncheon for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of NJ.
Tracey: What trait in a person do you admire the most?
Juanita: Sincerity and compassion. I am not impressed with superficiality.
Tracey: What are your plans for the remainder of 2007 and is there anything you would like to tell us here at Just Soul?
Juanita: I wear so many hats…I am going to see where the road leads me. I’ve finally decided to let go and leave it to God. So, whatever I should be doing, I am just going to follow instructions.
Juanita, it’s been fun getting to know more about you. On behalf of Just Soul, thank you for the interview and I wish you success in the year ahead.