A frequent guest vocalist in the hip-hop, jazz and soul world, Jamila has emerged as a once-in-a-generation voice on her soul-stirring debut. Hailed by Pitchfork as, "a singular mix of clear-eyed optimism and Black girl magic," HEAVN is the culmination of more than two decades' worth of musical performances, creative remixing, haunted memories and her unique "collage" writing process. "I think of songs as physical spaces,"Jamila says. "Writing a song feels like decorating my space with things that make me happy or reflect who I am." The message of HEAVN, the album, and Jamila, the musician and poet, are clear: all parts strengthen the whole. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Woods grew up in a family of music lovers. She was a member of her grandmother's church choir as well as the Chicago Children's Choir and often sat next to her parents' speakers, singing along to their sizeable music collection while surrounding herself with things she admired.
In 2016, Chicago-based hip-hop label Closed Sessions released HEAVN. Working with Closed Sessions gave Jamila a home to help craft a complete, singular body of work. "That's been the coolest thing," she says. "Just being connected with so many people in Chicago. I like that they're local." HEAVN features a variety of producers, including oddCouple, a fellow Closed Sessions signee who produced five of the album's 12 tracks. "Working with odd Couple was when I really started thinking of [HEAVN] as an album," she adds. Other producers on the album include Peter Cottontale and even Jamila's sister.