Don’t dim or hide your light because by doing so you also stifle your growth. Emerge, so that you can EMERGE! -Jade Harrell
Riddle me this. Who can raise five energetic children and one large dog, while being a loving wife and juggling a position with one of the nation’s most notable media companies, in addition to simultaneously growing and expanding their own business, all while rocking a fierce head wrap, wearing a smile and radiating positivity? Jade Harrell that’s who!
Born in Denver, Colorado to a family of club jockeys and music enthusiasts, Jade entered the world with a spring in her step and talent in her veins. She began, what later blossomed into her media career, as a lunchtime DJ at her high school. There she thrived off of her earthy but conscious peers and gained an interest in her dad’s album and turn table collection. Through him, she acquired a keen ear for music and began to mix popular songs and create mixtapes. She was extremely shy back then so she spoke through her creations.
Jade’s family knew that she was passionate about mixing but they ushered her into a more traditional route and advocated for her to attend college rather than furthering her DJ career. Understanding of her family’s point of view, she relocated to Virginia and attended Hampton University. While in college, she did not have a real vision for what she wanted to do with her degree. In fact, she found herself gravitating back to her love of music and seeking ways to showcase her mixes. She found an outlet in the on campus aerobics class that she had taught. There she debuted her new tapes for clients and got a chance to really see people vibe with her preferred method of communication.
Jade graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration but instead of returning home to Denver, she joined her family in their new home of Atlanta, Georgia. Just when she thought that she had found a good balance of traditional work and adult life, fate rerouted her path into a much different direction. During a night out with the girls, Jade found herself shoulder to shoulder with none other than DJ Emperor Searcy and Lil John. After a few cocktails and encouragement from her friends, she mustered up the courage to speak to them. She impressed them with her ear for sound and mix. Eager to see if she was the real deal, they allowed her to mix a set that night in front of the entire club. Through her skillful display, Jade took on the name DJ Ability and began booking gigs from the club scene onto the radio with Nation Time Syndicate where she worked with rap great Chris Lova Lova, now known as Ludacris, DJ Dose and Poon Daddy.
Burned out from the club scene, Jade slowed down and met, who would later become, her husband. After 13 years in Atlanta and two children later, Jade’s family relocated to St. Louis in 1999 to be near her husband’s family. Uncomfortable in the new city, Jade was once again unsure of how to navigate the waters. However, she did know that this was the perfect opportunity to tackle her dream of working in media. She began to envision starting her own production company but with the kids and her family, she let it fall by the wayside.
Despite the references from her work in Atlanta, Jade did not receive any responses until 2005 when she convinced her husband to give a taped session of her on air presence to a radio personality with Clear Channel Media. The tape landed in the hands of the Operations Manager who was intrigued by Jade’s skill and helped land her a part time position as an on-air-personality. Jade worked the Saturday overnight shift through two more pregnancies and under the guidance of BJ the DJ, earned a spot as the host and producer for Sunday Morning Live. The station underwent several transitions over the next several years. Within this time, Jade underwent a transformation of her own. She describes it as, “Doing me while I was DOING ME…building up under the machine” and in 2012 she launched her business RareGem Productions, a full service production company that specializes in highlighting the success and achievements in the black community, producing positive content and providing access to urban communities through media.
Today Jade Harrell is THEE definition of a RENAISSANCE WOMAN. In addition to being a mother and a wife, she manages her show, Community Connections with Jade Harrell, on five iHeart Media (formally Clear Channel Media) radio stations while simultaneously producing 25 programs for independent clients as RareGem Productions. Currently one of her shows is ranked as the #1 healthcare podcast in the nation and serves 180 countries! This year alone Jade has been featured in the St. Louis Business Journal for her work with Alive & Well STL initiative and she has been inducted into the 2016 Grace Hill Women’s Business Center Wall of Fame. Jade is on a roll and shows no signs of slowing down. RareGem is set to launch a 24-hour network of digital radio stations in Fall 2016. It will include a 24-hour business talk and community affairs station, as well as a 7 O’Clock PM Children’s Story Hour to establish routine literacy no matter where the children reside. Jade Harrell is not only an exceptional business woman and fearless champion for the urban voice and community, she is also a shining example of how to seize the day and walk in your purpose.
Article By Ebonie Young for Delux Magazine | May/June issue
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