Kontrol Exclusive: The Amours Talk Jazmine Sullivan, Universal Love, and Music

Written by: Kyree Shockley

From being besties with musical powerhouses to opening for sold out shows, The Amours are taking the music industry by storm one sultry note at a time. These “sisters of love”, Jakiya Ayanna (21) and Shaina Aisha (17), are destined for greatness as they win the world over with their plethora of eccentric melodies ranging from R&B to Bluegrass soul.

This dynamic duo started out as a concept from their older sister and mother.

“One day our oldest sister came home and told us she was going to change her last name to Amour,” said the duo. “We found out it meant love. So, we just said when we become a singing group we’re going to name ourselves “the amours” and our mom convinced us to actually officially name ourselves that.”

From there The Amours were born. The sisters began singing together more and growing with one another. They eventually made an Instagram page and started recording song covers just for enjoyment. However, one video in particular not only sparked the interest of a couple of celebrities but it was the start of a new friendship that would change the duos’ lives forever.

“We posted a video on our page about two years ago and it was a Luke James cover,” they said. “He reposted our video on his IG page and we started getting followers out of nowhere. Two days later we got a follow from Jazmine Sullivan and from that follow we’ve been friends ever since.”

Yes these ladies got the attention of Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Jazmine Sullivan who have gone on record to say “The Amours have the most angelic voices with a vocal blend only sisters can have. Their sound is authentic, and I know they will go far.” Sullivan was so impressed by their one-of-a-kind sound, she personally hand-picked The Amours to be the opening act for one of her sold out shows this past Christmas season. From fan to mentor, The Amours developed a friendship with Billboard’s Rising Star recipient.

“We have that kind of relationship where if we need advice, she’ll give it to us. We’ll hang out occasionally. She’s definitely more of a friend and a fan of our music,” said The Amours.

A friend she is indeed. Sullivan helped promote a flyer for a radio competition the sisters were participating in. With Sullivan’s support, the votes started pouring in and The Amours were able to secure them a spot as the opening act for Maybe singer, Teyana Taylor. With all the success The Amours had and hoped to maintain in the future, their mentor gave them words of wisdom to last in this industry.

She told us not to drink. Whatever you do, don’t drink because it makes you forget things,” stated the duo. “She always expresses to be ourselves and not be afraid of who we are. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. Just express yourself and be yourself. And don’t let anybody try to make you be something that you’re not.”

Opening shows for both Sullivan and Taylor was just the start of their A-list appearances. The Amours were invited to The Children’s National Hospital in D.C. over the holidays to bring some Christmas cheer for the children in need and to perform for First Lady Michelle Obama.

“When she walks in a room, you’re flabbergasted you don’t know what to say,” said Jakiya. “[You’re] Literally about to choke, like the First Lady of the United States is right there in front of your face.”

“She was very welcoming, and nice,” Shaina added. “The best part of the experience was seeing the kids’ reaction, seeing how much they liked us and with us interacting with them.”

With being the opening act for sold out shows and personally performing for FLOTUS, you would think the sisters have checked everything off their artist bucket list but there’s one legendary singing diva that they’re dying to work with: Chaka Khan.

We love Chaka Khan,” said The Amours. “Chaka demands your attention. When you see her big red hair and you see her walk out, she’s demanding your attention. We think we would add a great element to her story.”

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photo cred: busboys and poets

Like most artists, The Amours got their start at an early age by singing in the church. They both participated in their children’s choir and as they grew older, their mother enrolled them in different performing arts camps where they discovered their love for singing and picked up playing instruments such as the Cajon drum.

“I always wanted to be a basketball player,” said Jakiya. “That was my No. 1 dream until one summer our mother took us to a musical summer camp and I decided from that day that this is what I wanted to do. I want to be a performer. I want to be in front of people. I want to sing.”

By the time they started maturing in their voice, they were attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a performing arts high school that specializes in providing pre-professional arts training combined with a college preparatory academic program and was recognized by US News as one of the top schools in the nation and the third best school in D.C. Coming from a school with such notable alumni such as Johnny Gill and Meshell Ndegeocello, the pressure for these two to succeed in music was evident.

“There are people in college trying to learn vocal technique and we go that in high school. There are people signing up to sing background for somebody and we were given those opportunities in high school,” said Jakiya. “So it’s definitely a lot of pressure to make the school look good and also take what your teachers have instilled in you and flourish.”

Though the ladies always had a singing background, they never looked at it as being a career move. Each young woman became interested in other things.  Jakiya took up film and theatre, specifically Broadway production, while Shaina was more interested in fashion and science. Even with all the words of encouragement from their mother to pursue their talents together as a singing duo, it wasn’t until they received the praises on Instagram that they thought they could actually take singing to a new level.

“The power of social media is ridiculous,” said the duo. “We’re sisters we’ve always sang together throughout our lives and our mother, for years wanted us to sing together, but once we posted that IG video and got that response, it inspired us to keep going because we never know how far we can go.”

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‘With The Amours being sisters, many may acquire how their personal relationship affects the dynamics in their music but the sisters are learning to find the balance between family and business. They concluded that they individually bring two different elements to their group. Of course being sisters, arguing and fighting are a given but the two are learning how not to step on one another’s toes but to focus more on what each sister is best at and expound upon that. If one has been fortunate enough to see these two perform, one may find that their chemistry and stage presence may seem similar to the likings of gospel powerhouse sister group, Mary Mary, but once they open their mouths and those jazzy, blue grass notes start to flow, some may compare them to R&B Soul duo, Floetry. Though both groups would be a great example to imitate, The Amours actually look to singing family, The Braxtons, for pointers on music.

“The most we take from them is that they blend their harmonies. That’s something that we are very strong on and their sisters,” said Shaina. “We love Mary Mary and we love Floetry but we’re really into creating our own blueprint,” It’s crazy to see how two people together can make something so powerful and we want to do the same thing but in our own way.”

The Amours mean it when they discuss becoming their own and focusing on being outside of the box. Their eclectic sound is a marriage between jazz, Bluegrass, Soul, R&B, and Pop. Their harmonies are so unique that it just depends on the song and what the duo is trying to accomplish at the time as a performer. Either way, whichever genre they’re channeling, you can’t deny that their sound is definitely fresh and different. Maybe it’s their range of musical inspirations that influence their artistry.

“No. 1 would be James Brown or Earth Wind and Fire,” said the duo. “We love the big band sound. That’s what we envision for our group over time. And of course we love The Braxtons, Chaka, and Jazmine Sullivan.”

Though their musical influences are old school, The Amours stay pretty current when it comes to their playlist to date. Jakiya is a huge Ty Dolla $ign fan and listens to him every day along with Jazmine Sullivan. Shaina on the other hand is into acapella music artists. Soon enough though, The Amours will have their own songs added to their playlist. With so much going on, the ladies find musical inspiration everywhere and are constantly writing new material.

“Most of the music I write is very mature so I don’t write for my own experiences.  I write from what I’ve seen or tell stories that I make u,” said Shaina. “I write a lot off of emotions. I also have a theatrical background. So when I’m writing, it’s a story that turns into a song right before you,” Jakiya added.

Since dropping their EP Rhythmic Love in 2015, The Amours are starting to achieve mainstream success with performances all over the U.S. The EP, currently available on iTunes, consists of six songs that range in various genres but at the end of the day they all still promote the same message: Love. The Amours said the fans should expect a melting pot as this is just a “snippet of what they can do” and to leave with the concept of Universal love in mind. The group recently re-released their single “Smile” and state that the song is all about not judging which comes at a critical time in history where judgement is an everyday struggle.

“You know how you go to Planet Fitness and it’s a judgement free zone,” stated The Amours. “Everyone is judging this and that person. They’re judging people by the color of their skin and what happened back in the day is reoccurring. And we just want to be one of the people in the music industry that say ‘look life isn’t going to be easy. You never know what somebody else is going through, why not just smile?’”

With such positive messages made with such beautiful voices, there’s no question that The Amours is just what America needs right now musically. Though they can’t speak on anything just yet, a tour is more than likely in the works for these ladies. In the meantime the group is working on a visual for Smile and will be releasing a cover video soon. To keep up with The Amours, be sure to follow them on social media @theamours.

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