East New York native Dominique Carson started writing as a coping mechanism, a way to express herself while dealing with life's challenge.
When she started watching Teen Summit on BET, it inspired her to be a journalist. And now, Carson can add author to her resume with the publishing of her book: Jon B: Are You Still Down? A biography on famed R&B singer Jon B.
"I really wanted to be a journalist," Carson said. "I wanted my words to be in print and for my story to capture people and for my words to have power."
For the past eight years, Carson has been working as a freelance journalist, writing articles on music, politics and culture, interviewing more than 100 notable people in entertainment. She also works as a massage therapist.
Back in the 90s when R&B was the top genre, Carson, thanks to an introduction from her older cousins, was mesmerized by the talent of Jon B.
"His voice grabbed my attention and all I could think was, 'Who was this white man singing with so much soul?' When he came out with Don't Say, I was sold. I wanted to get his album," she said.
Rhythm and blues is a genre intertwined with Black history in America, created for and by Black Americans. While many white singers now sing within the genre, Jon B's 25 year career has paved the way for artists like Justin Timberlake and many others. For Jon B, R&B wasn't a stepping stone into pop music, but a reflection of who he was as an artist. For Carson, that alone was enough inspiration to write her book about an artist she said hadn't got enough credit.
"I had the honor of interviewing him seven years ago in New York at Stage 48 while he was promoting his B-sides collection," Carson said. "He was in the early stages of being independent, and in our six-minute interview we talked about so much."
"That's when I decided to write about an artist who's played a significant impact on R&B, and how he doesn't get the recognition he deserves."
Carson said writing the book came with its own set of challenges. The pandemic affected her industry, so massage therapists were out of work. Then the summer of protests that erupted globally for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor also took a toll on her personally, as she had lost a family member to gun violence in East New York.
She said thanks to the support of her fiancé, she was able to push through and complete book, and get it to her editor Emily Timmerman. Timmerman, she said, shared her love of storytelling and loved the book.
"I had my fiancé telling me that all he wanted me to do was write this book," Carson said. "It alleviated a lot of stress, so I just started writing around two hours a day."
For the cover, Carson reached out to old high school classmate, Steven Davis, who she said did a great job. "We had the book out two days before Jon B's birthday. His birthday was November 11, and the book was released November 9."
While the book has many interesting facts and tidbits on Jon B's illustrious career, for Carson the most surprising thing she came across in her research was Jon B was the last person to work with Tupac Shakur in the studio before he died.
"It's so significant because that collaboration really brought more male artists together," Carson said. "It was two different worlds coming together."