J Pope

Vocalist and Lyricist
Baltimore, Maryland

Photo: Grant Knud Hansen

Photo: Grant Knud Hansen

Hailing from the Washington, D.C. area, singer, MC, and percussionist J Pope fell in love with music at church. The semi-regular Sunday morning appearances by The Fleming Sisters inspired her desire to connect with people through musical performance. “The way they would perform, the emotion they would give, and the emotion it would evoke in the people who were there was so powerful,” Pope remembers. “They made me want to become a performing artist.”

In her home, J’s parents often played the records of classic soul artists like Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke. As she grew up, she was greatly inspired by quintessential D.C. Go-Go artists like Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, and The Junkyard Band. That said, when you watch and listen to J Pope, it’s hard to not connect her to trailblazing black female vocalists like Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Lauryn Hill, and fellow D.C.-area native, Me’shell Ndegeocello. “I think there is an internal rhythm and spirit that we all have inside,” she reflects, “and that’s what brings us together as people.”

Together with her band, The Here and Now, Pope has been setting the Baltimore music scene on fire with her piercing, robust voice and lyrics, which are by turns righteous and soul searching. Returning to her gospel roots, she recently had the opportunity to join Richmond gospel icons the Legendary Ingramettes at a Baltimore performance last spring. The performance was so electrifying that the Ingramettes invited her to join them again at the 2019 Richmond Folk Festival.