Updated: Feb 21, 2021
Courtesy Photo-John Poww
Many a story has begun with once upon a time. Sometimes, blessings arrive wearing a disguise. Hearing a judge bang his gavel after sending you to prison isn’t the way anyone wants to begin. “Looking back on things, going to jail was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said John Allen Powe. Powe is an international recording artist. Powe, J. Poww was the former lead singer of the 90s R&B group Universal Nubian Voices (U.N.V.). Their chart smashing number 1 hit, Somethings Going On, was written while J. Poww was incarcerated.
Born and raised in the Capital City of Lansing, Michigan, J. Poww spent his younger years not singing but rapping. It wasn’t until high school (J.W. Sexton) that he would genuinely explore his singing abilities. “I was taught in school by the choir teacher, Mrs. Verna Holly,” said J. Poww. I thank her to this day. J. Poww also noted that he knew early (8), he wanted to be in the entertainment industry.”
After high school, Poww attended Wilberforce University, where he majored in music. He was inspired by musical sensations like Fred Hammond, Commissioned, Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Jay Z, N.A.S., and L.L. Cool J of which can be heard in the music he produces. "I come from a very singing family, the Coopers," explained J. Poww. “My mother, brothers, and sisters would all sing at every holiday."
J. Poww related that growing up, he often would in his room listening to records and singing. His mom often called upstairs, saying, "boy be quiet up there." In hindsight, I guess she’s happy he didn’t stay quiet for long. J. Poww got his first big break in 1990. We sang in a talent show called Natalie Cole's Big Break. He was approached by someone asking if he was interested in taking his singing to the next level. "I grabbed my college roommate, my brother, and John Clay," said J. Poww. Clay was from our rival, Eastern high school, but he was incredibly talented. This formed the group U.N.V. I moved to Detroit in 1991 because I was all about music. It was there the radio talk show personality, Mason, saw us. He wanted to manage the group." The rest is history.
J. Poww has been in the music industry for more than 20 years. He wrote his first hit song in 1993. J. Poww and U.N.V. signed with Madonna's Maverick/Warner Bros label in 1993. As the primary writer, J. Poww wrote the group's biggest hit, "Something's Goin' On," which reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and remained there for nine weeks. The group recorded two albums under the label before dissolving. "At the moment, you don't realize the significance of have a record go that big," said J. Poww. "It's only later when you go on YouTube and see someone in China grooving to your tunes that you can take it all in."
In 1996, J. Poww co-founded his first independent label, TRE-J Records, nationally distributed by Indie Distribution. His first independent release was for a rap duo J & The Phatman, who made monumental strides as the first music artists from Michigan to appear on Yo! MTV Raps. Their first single, "Keep It Comin," was produced by chart-topping producers Soul Shock and Karlyn.
He made his music on that major label for nine years and then transferred to his own label. J. Poww's independent ventures continued, and in 2001, he formed Powwer Moves Records, L.L.C. The label debuted R&B Poww Bros, which was made up of half the U.N.V. quartet - J. Poww and his brother, Shawn Martin. Their first single, "Faithful To," went to number 5 on the Billboard singles chart.
In 2008, J. Poww released Timeless – a best of U.N.V. compilation album; and in 2009, he released his first solo project, J. Poww The Headliner. J. Poww has kept a musical presence since then by consecutively releasing an album every year after that. J. Poww has sold over 2 million records worldwide. In 2014, J. Poww decided to switch gears and use his God-given talents to advance the Kingdom with his first gospel album, Savior Made. He followed up quickly with a hip-hop gospel album, Advance the Kingdom.
J. Poww is preparing to release his latest gospel project, The GOSP-SOUL. The 12-track album is a typical gospel album but refers to as urban gospel with a strong R&B vibe. The first single, "So Good," has received raving reviews and promised to be an inspiration to the masses. "The message is in the music," J. Poww says of his new project, and he is looking to share that message with a broader audience. "This new album gives an alternative to those who may not listen to the traditional gospel."
J. Poww now also mentors young artists. He tries to offer mentorship to young people through public speaking on the topic of taking your career to another level. "It's important to teach them the responsibility and accountability piece towards going to the next level," says J. Poww. "In speaking to young artists, it's important to understand that you don't have to compromise who you are to be successful. You can be a star, being who you are!” For those interested in checking out J. Poww for yourself, logon online at www.jpowwmusic.com, and on all major online music stores.