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J’Aira Pryor is not afraid to dream big but while a career in music is what she’s striving for, she does admit the road has not always been easy. “The entertainment business is cut-throat,” she often says, “and you have to already know who you are or some one will try to tell you.” Wise words for someone who sang her first solo just fifteen years ago. But for those fortunate enough to know her, J’Aira’s musical journey started long before.
As a child, J’Aira was blessed with many creative characteristics. Her grandparents recognized her gift early on and introduced her to the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM). Seeing such musical excellence in her peers motivated her to study classical piano under Mrs. Rita Hilliard in her hometown Pittsburgh, PA. For the next ten years, J’Aira traveled with NANM across the country, and at thirteen performed ‘Tara’ from Gone with the Wind, claiming third place in the Youth Division Classical Piano Competition in Philadelphia. J’Aira continued to study piano but to this day credits the Miss Black Teenage Pageant for her segue into singing. There, she became a confident singer and pianist eventually merging the two, forming a unique talent that would aid her in becoming a semifinalist every year and talent award recipient the latter two years. Like the cliché “three times a charm,” J’Aira entered the pageant yet a third year and received fourth place and a four-year academic scholarship to Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
J’Aira took college by storm and wowed the campus by taking first place in the fall ’99 talent show singing and accompanying herself to “Over the Rainbow.” By day, she fulfilled her many academic and extracurricular duties. By night, she worked diligently on her music composition skills. Soon, it became ritualistic for her to stay in the practice studio until the wee hours of the morning, mixing her classical and gospel background with rhythm and blues. When she was ready to reveal her talent, J’Aira formed a band and began performing her compositions at Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity recitals. Over the summers, she recorded and collaborated with local hip-hop artists. She also continued to hone her craft and placed in several talent shows including the 106.7 WAMO talent showcase.
In 2004, after graduating with a degree in communication and minor in music, J’Aira earned a notable mention as a “suggested songwriter” in the VH1 Save the Music Songwriters’ Competition. Perhaps one of her proudest moments though, was gracing the legendary Apollo Theatre stage in Harlem, New York, where she competed on the nationally syndicated television show in 2005.
Born and raised in the Baptist church, J’Aira holds tight to her Christian upbringing. She never wants to disappoint God or her fans and is determined to “put the clean back in r and b music.” Her songs are both genuine and pure, possessing just enough flare to remain relatable, yet enough authenticity to be called “one of a kind.” Her self-entitled debut album, subtitled "Finally Here" has songs ranging in topics of love, friendship and self-esteem. “Married to music,” as she often says, J’Aira is determined to excel in the industry. As for her future, she says, “The sky is the limit.” Her fans couldn’t agree more.