Actor, singer and AIDS activist Jussie Smollett
By The Black AIDS Institute
Singer/songwriter/actor/director/producer/activist and Black AIDS Institute Board Member Jussie Smollett of Fox’s hit television series “Empire,” has announced a summer tour to support his debut full-length studio album release, Sum Of My Music. The tour, titled Sum Of My Music Tour, debuted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 20, 2018, and will span Europe and the United States, culminating in a performance in New Orleans for the Essence Festival. A portion of the tour’s proceeds will go to support The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) and Flint Kids.
“With this album, I released just a piece of who I am. Now that people have heard it, felt it and had a chance to vibe with it, I want to bring the love directly to the people. I can’t wait to perform for you,” Jussie says.
“The Black AIDS Institute is very grateful to Jussie for his continued support of the work that we do,” says, Phill Wilson, BAI’s president and CEO. “Of all the things that Jussie is and does, in his heart he is first and foremost an activist. He has been on the frontline in the fight against HIV/AIDS for over 15 years. As he says, this album is just a piece of who he is. It’s only fitting that he would use this tour to raise desperately needed money to support a cause he is so passionate about.”
The album, released this past March, received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. The collection of songs hit #2 on the iTunes R&B charts and is currently available on all music platforms. Steeped in soulful R&B, pop and hip-hop, and seasoned beautifully with Jussie’s soaring vocals, Sum Of My Music represents a body of work he has been preparing for his entire life.
Known around the world as one of the stars of the television cultural phenomenon, Empire, for his role as the tortured son, Jamal Lyon – a singer muddled in and by his family’s drama surrounding their music empire –Jussie Smollett quite literally took every moment away from the set and his many acting roles to concentrate on his first love: music.
“Music has always been my heart. Something I can always and will always create,” he says. “When I was working day jobs in offices, as a waiter, in retail or even as a clown at children’s parties, music was the thing that I could always do at night, on weekends, in the morning time. I could create music around anything I was doing. There’s never an excuse to not create.”
Fans became privy to what Jussie can do musically when the Empire soundtrack, for which Smollett was both a writer and vocalist, hit number one on the Billboard charts, and was nominated for a Grammy, Billboard and American Music Award.
He combined musicality with activism on March 17, 2017, with the release of “F.U.W.” (F** Up World), a smoldering song and visual that took a hard stand against the current administration’s policies by highlighting injustices around racial prejudice and the fight for religious, human and LGBTQ rights. Fans and critics were moved by the song and the video’s honest depiction of a society gone awry, and impressed with his role as director, a skill he has now taken to the set of Empire.
His follow-up came in January with the release of the song “Freedom.” The accompanying video is a beautiful visual that is an unapologetic celebration of love. Jussie explains, “I wanted to show love in its most honest and pure form. A couple doing what every couple does…just living their lives. It’s a song about complete bliss, not the fantasy or some false sense of security, but love in its most honest and pure form. Whether it’s love for your partner, your family, your people or yourself, when love is true, there’s a feeling that you can literally fly. That’s what I want for every creature on this planet and myself. To me that’s true Freedom.” The video stars award winning actress Tika Sumpter (Southside With You, Ride Along) and Tony and Grammy award winner, Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple).
Most recently, Jussie released “Catch Your Eye” featuring Swizz Beatz. Fader Magazine described the music video for “Catch Your Eye,” as “mesmerizing.” In the neon-lit backdrop, covered in paintings from artists all over the world, including Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo and acclaimed opera singer Lauren Michelle, Jussie makes an impassioned appeal in this head-bop tune.
“To have one of the true Kings of Hip Hop like Swizz leading this with me is just bananas,” says Jussie. With the visual, I wanted to take it even further. I was inspired by Hype Williams’ film BELLY and really just Hype in general. But I also wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t some stream of consciousness in there.”
In mid-March the third single and visual, “Hurt People,” was released. Filmed entirely on location in South Africa, the video pays homage to all that is beautiful and historic about Mama Africa. Inspired by the late Nelson Mandela, the video was filmed with an all-Black South African labor force, including cast, crew and fashion designers, to live the reality of Africa Rising.
SUM OF MY MUSIC U.S. TOUR DATES
6/1 –Houston, TX – Satellite Bar; 6/2 –Austin, TX – Empire Control Room; 6/3–Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co; 6/5 — St. Louis, MI – Old Rock House; 6/8–Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop; 6/9–Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee Pride Festival; 6/10–Chicago, IL – Subterranean; 6/12– Detroit, MI – El Club; 7/7–New Orleans, LA – Essence Festival; Additional Tour Dates here:http://jussiesmollettmusic.com/