Jazmine Sullivan Sings The Hell Out Of “Girl Like Me” On ‘Fallon’: Watch

Jazmine Sullivan, the great R&B singer, works slowly and deliberately, and it’s taken a while for her to get her due. Right now, though, a critical consensus is forming around Sullivan. On Friday, she released her new record Heaux Tales, a concept album about the romantic travails of different women. The album has gotten Sullivan the best reviews of her career, and those reviews are justified. Last night, Sullivan was the musical guest on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, and she got to show off what’s gotten critics talking.

As a vocalist, Sullivan can really blow in that old-school R&B kind of way. As a songwriter, she’s warm and vulnerable and incisive; younger stars like SZA and Summer Walker probably learned a lot from walking her. Both of those strengths shine on “Girl Like Me,” the H.E.R. collab that she released last week. That’s the song that she sang on last night’s Fallon, and she really sang it.

On record, “Girl Like Me” is a minimal, stripped-back song. On The Tonight Show, Sullivan stripped it back even further, using just a guitarist and a bassist as accompaniment. H.E.R. wasn’t there to sing it with her, and since we’re in the quarantine era, she didn’t have the option of singing it with the Roots, either. That might be a good thing. Sullivan had all the room she needed to flex her incredible voice and to convey the emotional heaviness of the song. “Girl Like Me” is written from the perspective of someone who was recently dumped: “Knew it was real when you blocked me/ Now I sit at home, judging my body/ Wondering what I did to lose you/ Why in the hell you ain’t choose me?” It cuts deep. Watch the performance below.

Heaux Tales is out now on RCA.