Love, Marriage, And The Music Business: The Sonic Alchemy of Jade Novah and Devin Johnson

The music I love most, I listen to  least — paradoxical, I know, but I’ve always been sensitive to words and sounds; engaging passively isn’t an option. When insightful lyrics and powerful vocals flow over captivating melody, the vibration demands full attention — a luxury rarely found in the busyness of daily life. So, more often than not, music is relegated to background noise, filler, or a shortcut to a mood. Still, I miss that feeling of unwrapping a CD back in the day; the sensation of sitting with a new artists’ songs and playing them for hours on end. Lately I’ve been more deliberate about setting aside time to listen, and Jade Novah is the object of my current obsession. 

Her latest album, WHERE HAVE I BEEN?, is giving ‘high vibrational.’ With groovy arrangements straddling alternative and R&B and sweet, ethereal vocals, Jade delivers in the tradition of ’90s neo-soul. Produced by her husband, Devin Johnson, the body of work puts their creative alchemy on full display. For Devin, an award winning producer who’s worked with chart-toppers including Lizzo, Rihanna, and Ariana Grande, it’s a labor of love. ESSENCE sat down with the creative couple to discuss the inspiration behind their work, the importance of ownership, and why they traded fast fame for musical integrity.

Artistic Integrity and The Business of Music  

The music industry, like any other, comes with rewards and challenges, often requiring compromise. Jade and Devin decided early on that it wasn’t a price they could pay; instead, they chose the independent route. “From the beginning, we knew we would have to take the road less traveled. We understood that it would be a longer journey, but that’s something we embrace to make sure we maintain our creative control and musical integrity,” Jade told ESSENCE. 

In an industry that means to categorize artists by genre, Jade and Devin’s music defies easy classification. The album’s eclectic style, which blends comedy, storytelling, and therapeutic elements, resists confinement. It’s a challenge the couple identified early on. “A lot of times, when you are more one-dimensional, I think there’s more success because it’s easier to be a vessel for the agendas of the people in charge,” Jade said. Devin expounded on the notion, adding historical context. “If you look at the inception of the Civil Rights Movement, artists were making anthems; the music reflected the times. They were speaking on things they truly believed in,” he said. “That’s been purposely done away with.” Their art seeks a higher purpose to spread love and elevate consciousness. 

The conceptual framework of WHERE HAVE I BEEN? is a contemporary throwback to when artists like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, and Marvin Gaye galvanized audiences with soulful messages of empowerment and self-love. “We built our own system, so we don’t have to taint the message or the music,” Jade said. 

Their production company, “Let There Be Art,” equips creatives from diverse genres with the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to navigate and break through their respective industries. Devin and Jade’s commitment to artistic freedom is rooted in a shared mission to elevate the masses through art. 

Crafting Consciousness: Transforming the Zeitgeist

Music is a fusion between science and art. According to a Dartmouth report, “high-vibrational music” can evoke positive emotions and instill a feeling of harmony and well-being among listeners —Devin and Jade live in that sweet spot. For them, music isn’t just a form of entertainment; it’s a vehicle for enlightenment. That intention is palpable in “WHERE HAVE I BEEN? 

Love, Marriage, And The Music Business: The Sonic Alchemy of Jade Novah and Devin Johnson

In 24 tracks, the album takes listeners on an introspective journey through past relationships and inner-child work to a place of healing and self-love. The sonic vibes are not by chance. “We entered into this project with very specific intentions,” Jade said. “To help shift the collective consciousness of our peers and our generation.” 

The album’s topical approach delves into themes related to love and relationships, specifically exploring ‘love languages’ and how learning them unlocked deeper intimacy.

Transparency, Love Languages, and the Strength of Black Love

For Devin, who can spend hours entranced in work at the couple’s home studio, ‘acts of service’ is key. “I go so hard for my people. I’m very loyal. And I will put my head down and do whatever needs to be done. So, I just like knowing that I’m thought of, and it can be the smallest thing like Jade bringing me a smoothie or just checking in and asking how I’m doing,” he said. 

Jade, whose love language is ‘words of affirmation,” shared how the discovery brought about a change of perspective. “My father, who I love so deeply, couldn’t really affirm me in the ways a young girl would want to be affirmed. And so I would meet people throughout my life, and all they would have to do is tell me they love me or say I was beautiful. Those statements alone would make me feel like, ‘Oh, they’re taking the next step; they’re affirming me in ways my father couldn’t articulate; this must be love.’ And so I made a lot of wrong turns,” she shared. “My relationship with Devin was the first time I experienced someone telling me they love me and also validating it with actions, doing things to back it up.” The relational work shows up on the track. 

Jade and Devin’s transparency on the work and rewards inherent in love is a much-needed counterbalance to the prevailing viral messaging, which amplifies tensions between men and women. “We believe in the power of Black love,” Jade told ESSENCE. “Partnership is powerful, and it’s something we are very intentional about promoting.” Their labor of love, “WHERE HAVE I BEEN?” fully delivers on that mission. 

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