“I didn’t fully want to go to college — I wanted to do music, and I want to be an artist,” explains Jazara Hutton, the 18-year-old singer/songwriter who released her debut single, “Friends,” this summer. The song, which conjures the familiar knottiness of having romantic feelings for a friend, was quickly popular on both Radio Disney and NRK P3, Norway’s biggest radio station.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Hutton packed up before her senior year at San Marcos High School and moved to Norway, where she attended a one-year intensive music program called LIMPI, which stands for Lillehammer Institute of Music Production and Industries. Living in Norway, she said, is “insane, especially being from Santa Barbara.”
LIMPI introduced Jazara to professionals who’d previously collaborated with Rhianna and Beyoncé. “Having those mentors for even a week was amazing,” said Hutton, though she remains very grateful to her hometown mentors, vocal coach Agatha Carubia and guitar teacher Adam Zelkind.
She’s since graduated from the program, but continues to collaborate in Norway with her producer, Richello. Together, they finished “Friends” in under a month. “We went through so many different versions,” she explained. “We wrote eight different versions and had three different choruses.” Originally intended to be acoustic, “Friends” now hails as a vivacious pop anthem.
As a child, Hutton gravitated toward songwriting, picking up the guitar at age 13. Her teen years were chock-full of learning new instruments and performing live in Santa Barbara. “My mom would always throw me in the car on a Saturday and drive me down to the farmers’ market,” she said. “I actually raised enough money to buy myself my own guitar.”
By 16, Hutton was performing weekly at farmers’ markets and hitting up open mic nights as well, including regular performances at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. “I would go down every Wednesday and play three new songs that I wrote between the week,” she explained. Those performances turned her initial nervousness into comfort and confidence. “After a while, [Fig Mountain] became like my family,” she said.
She continues to find inspiration listening to Shawn Mendes, Alicia Keys, and Katy Perry, but her main source of encouragement remains her family. The budding pop artist, with an American mother and Jamaican father, grew up on rock and reggae. “My family has had my back since day one,” she said. “I feel lucky since I know there are other artists out there who don’t have that support system, because it is a risk, being an artist.”
Of her hopes for “Friends,” Hutton explained, “I hope people will cry to it, dance to it, or just relate to it.”
You can now listen to “Friends” on all of the major streaming platforms. Follow Jazara Hutton’s career on Instagram at @jazara.music
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