Building a Community Through Music by Living #OutLoud

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By Lindsey Gonzalez

By creating music, making it public, and rallying with others in support of that art, every musician inherently creates a fan base for himself or herself. But the relationships between artists and listeners often vary widely among fandoms. While some musicians are strictly business-oriented, others work hard to build relationships with their fans, establishing a community of people that are bound together by their love of music. That is exactly what independent singer and songwriter Jhameel is doing with his #OutLoud campaign.

Jhameel made his YouTube debut in 2010, sharing videos of various song renditions and some original music with the world. His online presence grew steadily as people tuned in to watch him perform songs like T-Pain’s “Buy You a Drink” and “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes. Jhameel continued to gain interest by promising followers that he would post a drunken performance on YouTube once he received 1000 Facebook fans. About a month after this announcement, his drunken cover of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” hit the internet and was quickly followed by even more drunk performances, including “We Are Young” by Fun. As his popularity mounted, Jhameel posted several self-directed music videos for original songs like “Shut Up,” “Shadow of a Man,” and “Feisty.”

Today, Jhameel has independently created and released a total of four EPs and three full-length albums, which can be purchased and downloaded through Bandcamp and iTunes, or streamed freely using Spotify. With the ability to play fourteen different instruments, Jhameel incorporates a variety of sounds into his music. As an indie-pop artist, his songs are filled with infectious melodies, but his lyrics often grapple with a number of serious issues, such as domestic violence and homophobia. This stark contrast between his music and his message serves to attract casual listeners, inviting them to think about deeper topics.

Last May, Jhameel released his newest album, Lion’s Den, and jump-started an online campaign aimed at encouraging people to be open about their fears. He created the campaign when he began to reflect on his past and confront issues he hid from himself for so many years. As he thought back on his struggles with self-image, feelings of loneliness and displacement, and eventual thoughts of suicide, Jhameel found himself in what he calls the Lion’s Den–the moment when one is confronted by his or her fears and forced to either conquer them or accept defeat. In beginning this campaign, Jhameel shared his fears with listeners and asked them to do the same.  

Participants of the #OutLoud campaign must submit their email addresses and deepest fears through a form on jhameel.com. If desired, participants can include their names, otherwise the submissions will remain anonymous. Jhameel has promised to read all the submissions, and hopes that the completion of this form will cultivate courage in participants, allowing them to confront their fears and speak more openly about their struggles with others. For every 1000 fears submitted, participants will receive free downloads of exclusive content from Jhameel as a reward for their bravery. In less than three days of the campaign’s launch, the first 1000 fears were submitted and today that number continues to grow.

Through his #OutLoud campaign, Jhameel hopes to demonstrate that everyone has fears, and for that reason no one needs to face their fears alone. By being open through his music and encouraging his fans to declare their fears with him, Jhameel has created what he calls a tribe of followers. He sees himself and his fans as being bound in a marriage-like relationship, in which they are open with one another and look out for each other. Jhameel has not only created his own fan base, but also a community of listeners who are passionate about and dedicated to his message.

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