Local musician Jada Lynn embraces vulnerability and realness in sharing her music with the world

The 21-year-old artist is making a name for herself while simultaneously coming out of her shell.


Andrew Stoup

Musician Jada Lynn poses for a portrait in her home recording studio on Friday, Nov. 12.

by Macy Harder

As early as 5 years old, bubbly and bright-eyed Jada Lynn already made music in the studio with her father. He handed her a microphone for the first time, and at that moment, she knew she wanted to be a musician.

“I was nervous at first, but it was a really cool experience to be able to share something that we both love,” Lynn said.

Today, the 21-year-old Minneapolis-based singer, songwriter and producer is making this childhood dream a reality. Through powerful, genre-defying vocals and hard-hitting lyrics, Lynn is blossoming into her true self, shedding her skin and unlocking more of her musical potential with each song and performance.

University of Minnesota music fans might be familiar with Lynn from her performance at the American Indian Student Cultural Center’s End Line 3 Concert, where her confident stage presence and impressive vocal runs captivated the audience. She said this experience turned out to be one of her fondest memories of performing.

“Usually I’m performing at parks or in parking lots, so getting to do that was really cool,” she said. “The vibe that I was channeling is just unforgettable.”

Lynn’s natural talent doesn’t come as a surprise, as music is deeply interwoven within her family lineage. Her great grandfather was a military drummer boy during wartime, and all of his children took a natural liking to playing instruments. The legacy continues with Lynn’s close family members — all of her aunts and uncles are songwriters and instrumentalists, but her father’s music had the most significant impact on her growing up.

Lynn’s father’s musical career can be defined by many titles: singer, songwriter, producer, rapper, audio engineer. “He does it all,” she said. Lynn explained that being raised by her dad undoubtedly had a strong influence on the way she grew into being an artist.

“I inherited a lot of musical knowledge from my dad. Not only would I listen to him create, but he’d also put me on to amazing artists,” she said. “I’m just a product of my environment, basically.”

In her childhood, Lynn was involved in choir, which she said played an instrumental role in cultivating her musical ear. As a freshman in high school, she took piano lessons, but taught herself how to play the guitar through YouTube tutorials.

Today, Lynn has four original songs uploaded on SoundCloud, and she’s worked with other artists to be featured on their tracks. Lynn’s music is versatile and can’t be placed into the confines of one genre. “I want to keep switching it up so people don’t know what I’ve got going on next,” she said.

Lynn’s music takes on a traditional R&B structure, but each track approaches the genre through a different sonic lens. “Morose” incorporates dark, gloomy synths and trap-inspired percussion to give the song a more modern rap feel, which is complimented by Lynn’s somber and honest lyrics. “Damage” puts a lo-fi spin on R&B, using a gentle piano backing track and laid back, retro drum loops. No matter what sound she cultivates, the common thread through all of Lynn’s music is her rich and effortless vocals, which seem to fit perfectly over any instrumental she uses.

Before she recorded any original music, Lynn said she would work on songwriting everyday. “I have this book that my dad gifted me when I was 15, and all the pages are filled,” she said.

For Lynn, releasing her own songs wasn’t a painless process. “I kind of struggled with imposter syndrome for a little bit with my talent, and that kind of pushed me away from putting my stuff out there,” Lynn said. “But the love and support that I’ve received from my friends and family has really helped me bust through my shell.”

An important member of this support system is Lynn’s 18-year-old sister, Alayah Rankin. Rankin said she always felt very connected to her sister. “We like to always talk about how we probably knew each other in past lives,” she said. “We’re usually in sync, even though a lot of the time we’re apart.”

Rankin mentioned that even when they were growing up, she had no doubt in her mind that Lynn would go on to be a performer. “She’s always had this gift of a beautiful voice, and she’s just a light,” she said. “I feel like entertainers have the ‘it’ factor, and she’s got it 100%.”

Musician Jada Lynn records in her home recording studio on Friday, Nov. 12.  (Andrew Stoup)

In recent years, Rankin has witnessed first-hand Lynn’s ability to come out of her shell through making music.

“As the years go by, she gets a lot more honest and raw with her music, which I love,” Rankin said. “She’s not the type of person that lets you in on what she’s feeling, but with her music, you can really feel what she’s going through. I feel like she can totally just capture you in her world whenever she sings.”

This captivating nature of Lynn’s music can be attributed to her thoughtful songwriting. “Honestly, I feel like my lyrics are my diary,” she said. “They’re all raw emotions.”

Lynn said that most of her lyrics derive from personal experiences, but she also draws inspiration from others. Hannah Broadbent met Lynn through the Minneapolis American Indian Center in winter of 2019. They’ve been close friends ever since, and Broadbent described Lynn as a little sister figure in her life.

After saying that she wanted to write about true love, Lynn wrote a song detailing the love story between Broadbent and her boyfriend, Johnny Crow. When Broadbent heard her perform the song, she said she was in tears the entire time.

“I mean, I cry every time she performs,” Broadbent said. “Life is really hard, and her life is no exception. So, to see her up there overcoming everything she’s been through, to shine as bright as she does, blows my mind to the point of tears.”

Lynn’s bubbly, humble and energetic personality radiates when she steps on stage, and Broadbent said that it’s the furthest thing from a stage persona. “Who she is on stage is who she is in real life, and I think that’s why I get so emotional,” Broadbent said.

Lynn said her confidence on stage doesn’t always come easily, but a piece of eye-opening advice helped her along the journey. “I was told from somebody that I really look up to that if we’re given the opportunity to create, then our job is to be able to share that with the world,” Lynn said. “To be able to share our gift with others is really important.”

She said that this is one of her ultimate goals for her music career. “I just want to make sure I stay true to myself and to create freely,” she said. “Being able to share what I have going on and seeing people resonate with that is probably the most amazing thing.”