Meet Johari Noelle! This beautiful, amazingly talented young lady has been part of the focus of Kelly Rowland's new docuseries, Chasing Destiny. Faced with the idea of putting together a girl group, or better yet, a supergroup, who would would not only duplicate the success of Destiny's Child, but take music to the next level. Johari was one of many young ladies who went after the opportunity, and ultimately one of close to 20 girls who were selected to compete at being selected to be a part of Rowland's new group. Unquestionably, Johari brought her A-game on this series, aiming to solidify her spot in what's geared to be one of music's biggest groups yet. Four episodes in, much to everyone's surprise, Johari was eliminated. The thing here, though, is it had nothing to do with talent, nor a lack thereof. Truth is, her talent is endless, much like everyone else who was vying for a role in Rowland's supergroup. Her star has definitely been bright throughout her time there, and the fact that she made it to that point was solid proof.
Now, with that experience being behind her, Johari has a lot planned and in the works with her career. We had an opportunity to talk about her experience on the show and the projects she has coming up soon. For her, the chase continues.
U.G. Digital Mag: It’s amazing to connect with you. Like so many others, I was immediately drawn to your voice when I saw your audition. Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us, and congratulations on making it to this point in your career. Despite what happened with the show, so many people don’t get to this point.
Johari Noelle: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
U.G. Digital Mag: You’re so welcome. So what does it feel like at this point? Is it still kinda surreal for you?
Johari Noelle: You know what? It’s gotten to a point where I say this is something I’ve done for a long time, and as the process was beginning, it was really surreal. I couldn’t believe it was the situation I was in. I was very grateful and excited, and now, I’m grateful and excited for the future. In that moment, it was absolutely surreal.
U.G. Digital Mag: Right. Now your story is amazing in regard to you and your sister being conjoined at birth, and the road you traveled with that alone. It shows your strength, and that you’re a fighter and survival. Did you both fall into the arts?
Johari Noelle: What’s funny is the four of us [me, my sister, and my 2 younger sisters] were involved in the arts. I guess it’s like a family thing. My parents had my sisters and I involved. As we got older, about 5 or 6 years old, they put us in musicals outside of school, and things like choir, dance, and gymnastics. There wasn’t anything we had not tried. As we got older, we could really weed out what thing was really for us. For me, it was singing, and for her, it was dance. That’s what she does. She’s studying dance at NIU, and that’s her passion. My younger sister, who is 14, plays the violin, and my youngest sister is into film making, and enjoys dance as well. It’s cool to see them blossoming into the arts. We’ve all been very involved since we were younger.
U.G. Digital Mag: Take me back to your audition for the show. Was there fear or eagerness? What were your emotions?
Johari Noelle: Oh wow. Basically, I had just done a YouTube cover, and it was to a song called Runnin by Naughty Boy featuring Beyoncè. I really liked the song, so I did a cover. A week later, a friend of the casting director for BET reached out to me on Instagram, saying my voice was amazing, and I should take the opportunity. She attached a flier with Kelly Rowland all over it, and I wondered exactly what it was. I was so nervous and wasn’t sure if it was legit. I looked it up and saw it was legit, and I submitted right away. The casting director reached out within something like 15 minutes, saying she loved it. She said she would try to get me a call-back. Then I did a Skype interview with the directors where they got to know me, where I’m from, and what I felt Kelly should see in me. Two weeks later, I got an email for the call-back. My original location was New York, but I didn’t have the money or the time because it was such short notice. I asked if I could do another, and they said Atlanta was available. My father and I went to Atlanta, got there the night before, and it was so amazing. When I walked in, there were 30 girls, and within an hour, there were 300 girls. Every single girl could sing. It was amazing. It wasn’t like you could tell who would make it or who wouldn't. Everybody had it. I was nervous and intimidated at first. I had this moment before my audition where I went in the bathroom and just started singing my audition song. Talking to myself, I was just like, you got this. Don’t overthink it. Accept it and relax. When I went in, there were three other girls, and we had like 10 seconds each to sing. Kelly and Frank wanted me to say my name, my age, where I was from, and then sing. The first two girls went and they were great. Then I sang and that was it. We all stayed, and then they started grilling us. Frank asked me my background, and he was asking about what I had done recently. He said it sounded like I had a lot of training; but I told him I hadn’t, and I had been in school. He asked me how old I was and I said 20. They asked me to stick around and of course I said great. I ran out the room and grabbed my dad. I was so excited. Later that evening in the second round, it got pretty intense. They were dropping people left and right. They would walk up to girls, and if they stopped, you had to sing. They stopped at a couple of girls and they sang great. They walked back around to those same girls, tapped them on the shoulder, and they just walked out. We all knew they were gone. Kelly and Frank then said for us to let it all out and scream because it wouldn’t be so hard after this. We all just started screaming, because we were on pins and needles. It was intense. We did different techniques, harmonies, and they just filled us in on what would happen.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think it’s amazing to hear the story behind it all. When you think of the whole opportunity, I can understand where the excitement comes from in being able to follow what you dream of doing. Where were you when you got the call saying you would be a part of the show?
Johari Noelle: I was at home. I was watching Netfli\x, and my phone was ringing. I remember thinking who this unknown number was face timing me. I answered and it was Kelly. She had on no make up, and her hair was pulled up. She was laughing because i was just cheesing. She said they wanted me to come to LA, and asked if I wanted to come. I was like yes, and she was laughing. She asked me if I was from Atlanta, and I explained I was from Chicago. She then realized I had come all the way from Chicago to audition. Her advice was just to be ready to be a team player, and work hard. I text my mom the picture of Kelly and i on Face Time, and she called me screaming. They sent me a bunch of paperwork to fill out, and that was like 2 days before Christmas. This was like the ultimate Christmas gift.
U.G. Digital Mag: That had to be really amazing. What was your family’s reactions, and the reaction from your friends?
Johari Noelle: They were all extremely excited. For them, it was major.
U.G. Digital Mag: It’s so cool, and again, to be able to follow your dreams, there’s nothing better. What were some of the best take-aways in regard to making it in the business?
Johari Noelle: The first thing was that confidence is everything. When I got there, I was nervous because everyone was so talented. It was so unreal that they picked me. I was such a rookie, and everyone had crazy experiences. A lot of them had been signed to major labels, been on major shows, and toured with some of the greatest artists. It was just like wow. I also took away being prepared. If they ask you to sing at the drop of a dime, you should have a song prepared. It should be your go to song. A lot of times, I was thinking far into it instead of just going for it. I also learned this is just the beginning for me. For a lot of the girls, I realized they had done things before, and they had been told yes, or no, on different occasions. This was really my first big thing, and my first real no. I made it this far, so it’s something to look at. It should be enough to tell me I have something special. One of my idols chose me. We really bonded and grew so close because we were always with her. The whole thing was unreal. It reminds me to be more comfortable in myself and to trust in my talent. I’m truly just loving me.
U.G. Digital Mag: That’s the best advice to offer someone. Trusting and believing in yourself, and your talent. In reality, it still was a yes because look how far you have come. You worked with your idol, and you gained new relationships. You’ve been on a show, and the world knows you now.
Johari Noelle: Yes, it’s crazy.
U.G. Digital Mag: So what were your thoughts at elimination? I think everyone going into this had the idea and knowledge that it could happen.
Johari Noelle: I was honestly content in the decision that was made. In that moment, I was like OK. There was nothing I could change. I just said OK, this isn’t my door. I was so grateful. This was awesome, and I got the recipe. They gave us the full recipe to be a successful artist. I've learned that once the door closes, you don’t go jiggling the handle. You just keep walking and moving. I was ready and accepting of it.
U.G. Digital Mag: That’s why it’s clear to me that this is your thing. That’s the best response I’ve heard. I think a lot of times, you’re upset a little, but happy at the same time. There are so many who don’t get here. For this to be your first big thing, that’s all God’s work.
Johari Noelle: Thank you.
U.G. Digital Mag: What’s happening now? You website looks awesome.
Johari Noelle: Thank you so much.
U.G. Digital Mag: What projects do you have?
Johari Noelle: Right now, I’m working on a project that I want to release in late June. It may be pushed to July, depending on how soon we finish. It’s an EP, and will be all about this experience. It’s dedicated to women, and talks about the importance of loving yourself, and not comparing yourself, or placing yourself next to someone else. It’s about love in general, and the struggles of women with other women, and the importance of sisterhood.
U.G. Digital Mag: Do you see yourself being in a group again?
Johari Noelle: Right now I’m working solo, but if given another opportunity to be in a girl group, I would not put it down. I’m all about that. One thing about the girls and getting to know them and building relationships, was that I really liked it. I love that we worked together and were all chasing something bigger. It made me realize if I had this opportunity again, I would take it. Because I have all sisters, it’s something that means a lot to me.
U.G. Digital Mag: I love what you portrayed, and your persona, and I’m looking forward to more. Where should everyone check you out online?
Johari Noelle: They can check me out at my website, www.joharinoelle.com! My social media is all on my website.