Black History Month Profile: Chief Cleopatra

Patricia Lim/KUTX

KUTX’s Black History Month is supported by Austin Public Health, committing to health equity.

Jalesa Jessie, known as Chief Cleopatra, was raised in Corsicana, Texas. The multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter grew up with a diverse set of musical influences.  She started with Gospel music as her foundation before moving to the Smashing Pumpkins. She later became fully immersed in soul, funk, pop, and hip-hop with her influences ranging from Aretha Franklin to Parliament-Funkadelic to Wu-Tang Clan. She started playing the piano and the drums which lead to her performing in church, at her friends’ events, and marching in her school’s drumline.

In 2012, she moved to Austin to pursue her music career and linked up with fellow collaborator Leonard Martinez. In 2019, they released their first EP together Lesa X Lenny Vol. 1. With tracks like “Companion,” this EP caught the attention of The Austin Chronicle and KUTX. 

In 2021, she released her hit song “Friends” and that same year she was selected as an official artist of SXSW and inked a record deal with the label Park the Van. This year she has been nominated for Best New Act for the Austin Music Awards and she is currently KUTX’s artist of the month. The singer-songwriter recently teamed up with talented producer Walker Lukens to create a new sound for her new ep, Luna. She recently described it saying  “I feel like it’s more of a universal sound. I think it reaches people on a bigger scale.” Luna drops on March 4th and there are plans for a full-length album and a tour in the fall.

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