Fans First: How Jasmine Villegas Became Music’s Must-See New Artist

Jasmine Villegas was discovered at 11 years old, when a music executive was impressed that such a small person could have such a big voice. At 12, she signed with Dash Music group and began to develop her raw talent with the help of music mogul Dame Dash. That same year, she performed the national anthem at a Los Angeles Clippers game. That led to a series of performances at sporting events, including the Mayweather vs. Ortiz boxing match–an appearance that generated enough buzz to make her the top trending topic on Twitter.

Fast-forward four years and Jasmine is starring in YouTube-sensation-turned-comedic-punchline Justin Bieber’s music video, “Baby.” But she didn’t want to be just a co-star in someone else’s music career. So in 2011, she released her first mixtape, “S(he) Be(lie)ve(d),” which yielded three successful tracks: “Jealous,” “Werk,” and “Just a Friend.”

Now the rising star is set to release her first EP with Interscope Records, and she couldn’t be more excited.

Part 1 of our full interview with Jasmine Villegas:

In an interview with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, Villegas explained how she connects with her fans, whom she refers to as her “Jasminators.”

“These Jasminators are girls just like me,” she told Menendez, who asked why Villegas makes such an effort to foster personal relationships with her fans. The singer says it’s that desire to connect on a deeper level with her fan base that has prompted her to open up about her personal life on a very public stage.

In one of her music videos, “Didn’t Mean It,” Villegas shared a very intimate moment with her Jasminators. The video was inspired by Villegas’ real-life abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend. Her performance is both vulnerable and powerful.

“It was scary at first because I didn’t know how people were going to… react,” she told Menendez. “I’m always so open with my fans but there are just some things that people don’t share.”

Part 2:

The decision to share so much of her life with her fans is part of the reason Villegas has garnered such a huge following on social media, with more than 1.67 million Twitter followers, more than 300,000 Youtube subscribers, and nearly 900,000 Likes on her Facebook page. Villegas feels so connected to these “Jasminators” that she even decided to make them a part of the song selection process for her upcoming .

“At the end of the day they’re the ones who are going to listen to it, they’re the one that are going to want to relate,” Villegas said.

Her EP, which features a track with rapper Kendrick Lamar, is set to drop later this month.

CREDIT: Victoria Moreno, Johanna Rojas and Stacey Hocheiser Fox