SB: I remember well over a decade ago listening to an amazing new Latina R&B artist and over the years, wondering what had happened to her career and her music.
There have been many artists that were one-hit wonders, or moved on from artists to become producers, etc. I wanted to find out for myself why someone so talented had been out of the scene so quickly.
Little did I know, that when I heard her story, I would be so moved and inspired. Instead of the usual ‘back and forth’ interviewing, here are her words.
VVJ: My name is Veronica Vazquez-Jackson. Most people know me for my late‘90’s albums “V…as in Veronica” and “Rise” or for my portrayal of Selena on stage. People wonder and make comments on my YouTube videos saying, “What happened to her?” “I loved her music, I wonder what’s she’s doing” or “Why did she stop?” This is what I’m here to tell you. This is why I disappeared from the music scene…
Early in 2004 I was working on my comeback: getting ready for showcases, writing, and really looking forward to a new album. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was expecting. I was so excited! I made a plan: have my baby, get the bod back to normal, and get right back to business. Things definitely did not go as planned.
CJ was a beautiful baby, a true blessing. He was such a good baby: he slept well, ate well, and had the most pleasant demeanor. Just a dream come true. As he got a bit older he started to babble and laugh. He was such a happy baby. Little did I know that things would change very soon.
At about 13 months or so, after he started walking, we noticed a change. He wasn’t himself. He wasn’t responding to his name. He wasn’t smiling so much, except when he was super excited from lining things up and spinning wheels on cars. He remained very affectionate with me but began to ignore the rest of the world. I knew there was something terribly wrong. We had him evaluated twice. The first time they said it was too early to tell and just to wait it out but by 16 months things were progressively worse. After the second evaluation and a lot of testing we received the official diagnosis: AUTISM.
It completely rocked our world. The course of action included hours and hours of therapy. My husband, Chris Jackson, was starring in “In The Heights” the musical, at the time and I knew what I had to do. I stayed home with my baby and learned from all the therapists what we needed to do to help our boy as much as we could.
After 5 years of ABA, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and schooling my boy is doing great! The little boy who might never speak and used a device to do so, is speaking in full sentences. CJ now has a 2 year old sister, Jadelyn, who he adores and who understands him like no one else. She challenges him and makes sure that he doesn’t go back into his “bubble”.
She is a joy and we are just as blessed to have her as we are to have CJ. Being there for my son has truly made a difference and now mama’s ready to get back in the game.
So, flashback to when I first started ou in this business. I was 18 when I got my first record deal with Mercury Records. I feel like they didn’t know what to do with me. A Puerto Rican girl who sings R&B? Unheard of, at the time.
I found myself being marketed as a light skinned black girl, which I identified with, but just was not me. Their “little Vanessa Williams”, she was my label mate and I looked up to her.
They found a producer who was young and they thought we’d make a great team. His name was Rodney Jerkins. I was the first signed artist he had ever worked with and we became very close friends. Til this day he is still like family to me. I also worked with Dallas Austin and collaborated with Diamond D and Sadat X on my first album. A few months later, Mercury Records did away with their black music department and I was a free agent.
A couple of months later I got a call from Jellybean Benitez. He tells me that he is starting up a label for latin artists called H.O.L.A. (Home Of Latino Artists). He gives me a single deal and I wrote “No One But You” which features Craig Mack and is on the B.A.P.S. sountrack. I did pretty well so we continued working together on my next album “Rise” which was also my first single featuring Fat Joe. I actually met Joe through Big Pun, who I didn’t realize at the time was my friends boyfriend in high school. We grew up blocks from each other. Pun, Cuban Link, and I collaborated on “Someone 2 Hold”. We had so much fun making that record. Pun was such a prankster.
A couple of years later H.O.L.A. folded. Jellybean wanted to some dance mixes of a couple of songs of “Rise”. I wasn’t crazy about the idea at first. mostly because I wanted to be known for the music I created. Who knew I would have the success I did with dance music! “Release Me” and “I’m In Love” took the #1 spot on Billboard’s Dance chart, “Someone To Hold” came in at #2, second to Madonna’s “Music” so I couldn’t be too mad.
I had developed a huge following in the gay community, which I was and still am very proud of. I grew up in the gay clubs of New York City and I have been a daughter of the House of Extravaganza since I was 16 years old. To receive so much love from the gay community makes me feel so relevant and grateful. They have kept my music alive through the years. I’m STILL performing my music from 10 years ago!
Today I’m working on new music, teaching and directing musicals at the Boys and Girls Club where I got my start, and enjoying being a mom. I’ve given voices to muppets on Sesame Street and characters on The Electric Company, which has been awesome. I get to sing with Elmo, how cool is that? My husband writes music for both shows.
I can’t wait to release my next album. I’m hoping I am met with the same love I have always received from my fans. Thank you all for keeping my music alive. See you on the dance floor!