'I sang one of the 90s' biggest hits, now I'm a teacher showing kids how to believe in themselves'

Janice Robinson
-Credit: (Image: Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic)

The 90s dance music legend Janice Robinson, also known as a former member of Livin' Joy, is set to perform at London Pride on Saturday, June 29. Janice, 56, wrote and sang the smash hit song Dreamer in 1993 and it has since become one of the most recognisable club bangers still playing 30 years after its release.

MyLondon spoke to Janice ahead of her performance to get to know the woman behind Dreamer. During our interview, she revealed she will bring out the incredible Gospel House Choir on stage at London Pride as a surprise.

Janice made her name as a dance music queen and toured with Tina Turner, performed for Oprah and made a surprise appearance on The X-Factor in 2018. She now lives as a single mum with her two daughters in Florida and works as a high school English teacher but manages to keep the showbiz going on the weekends and is filming a new documentary about her life.

READ MORE: Pride in London start time, date, parade route, schedule, stage lineups and parking

Janice Robinson and Tina Turner during their tour
"I'm indebted to Tina Turner forever because no matter what happens to my career, I have experienced the most euphoric high ever - being my idol's opening act," Janice said -Credit:Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic

She spoke about the moment she wrote the song that changed everything. She said: "Thirty-one years ago when I wrote this song on a train as just an innocent church girl from Garfield, New Jersey, it was like a manifesto - love, life, laughter.

"That was just my cry out to the world, that's what I believe. I was developing a sense of who I was in this giant world and I knew I was a dreamer."

When asked what performing at London Pride meant to her she said: "It means everything to me. It means I get to stand in front of a group of people who have kept my song alive for 30 years and feel their energy and they get to feel my love and admiration for them."

The 'innocent church girl from New Jersey' meets superstardom

Janice Robinson and Oprah
"They are like the pinnacle of the mountain of greatness and I've been in their presence," Janice said on meeting Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey -Credit:Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic

Janice came from humble beginnings with her father being a Baptist preacher and her mother being a schoolteacher. "My environment was always education and religion, honey, and God. I was really blessed with the ability to love others and be a light for others and be unselfish," she said.

Dreamer was released in 1994 and got to number one on US dance charts, and number 18 in the UK charts. It was produced by Italian DJ brothers Paolo and Gianni Visnadi. This was the start of her career in the music industry.

In 2000 she went on tour with the legendary soul singer Tina Turner for eight months as her opening act. Janice spoke about the experience: "Spending that much time with such a legendary artist, such a powerful inspiring woman - she really gave me the blueprint for life, she gave me the blueprint for overcoming obstacles, she gave me the blueprint on how to persevere through the most difficult times.

"I'm indebted to Tina Turner forever because no matter what happens to my career, I have experienced the most euphoric high ever - being my idol's opening act."

The same year she met Oprah Winfrey when she launched her Oxygen TV Network. "When she met me she said 'I know you. I know you. I can't wait to see what you do," Janice said, "And those words stayed with me for the last 25 years."

She added: "When you have moments like that when you're standing talking to Tina Turner or standing talking to Oprah Winfrey, they are like the pinnacle of the mountain of greatness and I've been in their presence. It's very humbling and I just learned a lot - perseverance, what grace really looks like and how to be connected and kind."

Teaching and becoming 'Jay Mama'

Janice Robinson
Her students call her Jay Mama because of her maternal approach in the classroom, Janice said -Credit:Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic

"When I realised music royalties were kind of up and down and whatnot, I was like, I think I need a steady income," Janice said. She turned to her school teacher mother for advice and she suggested becoming a substitute teacher. Janice took this and ran with it, getting a teaching qualification in 2012.

She now works at Golden Gate High School as an English teacher. Here the students have given her an affectionate nickname, Janice said: "My nickname is Jay Mama, that's what the kids call me because I have a very maternal approach in my classroom. I spend five days a week with these kids, 40 hours a week with somebody else's kids - that's a lot of time and you develop a bond."

She spoke about the career change. She said: "I don't miss 20,000 people screaming for me, you know why? Because I have a couple of 100 kids that light up every day when I see them - it's the same feeling. It's love." She added: "I teach them how to turn the light on inside of themselves to shine and to believe in themselves."

New releases, the documentary and the upcoming performance

Janice Robinson
"You can expect very live vocals and a fabulous outfit," Janice said on her upcoming London Pride performance -Credit:Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic

Despite being a full-time teacher, Janice makes sure to keep the Dreamer alive in herself. In 2018, she went on The X-Factor and got Simon Cowell's golden buzzer for an explosive live performance of her song. When asked what we can expect from her performance at London Pride she said: "You know I'm gonna have to take people back to what I did on X-Factor honey, come on. You can expect very live vocals and a fabulous outfit."

During her performance on X-Factor, her daughter was recovering from brain surgery which sadly left her blinded. But Janice wanted to use her spirit to show others that you can get through struggles like this, she said: "I've been through some of life's most painful, difficult obstacles, and yet I'm still standing, I'm still here and I've got a smile on my face."

Janice said she is currently filming a documentary about her life directed by award-winning director Hannes Hosp with help from Academy Award-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple. She gave a brief synopsis: "You will see me navigating life as a single mum, you will see me navigating life as a school teacher and you will see me working different types of jobs which I can't disclose yet."

She added: "You will cry, you will laugh, but you will ultimately stand on your feet cheering from my resilience, for my never-give-up attitude and for all the things I do for others. I'm kind of like a caretaker."

Janice Robinson
Janice is set to release a gospel version of Dreamer on July 17 and a new EP at the beginning of 2025. She is also creating the soundtrack for her documentary - going back to her song writing roots -Credit:Janice Robinson / @janicelovesmusic

On July 17, Janice will release a new gospel version of Dreamer which will be available to listen to on Spotify and she is planning to drop a new EP at the beginning of 2025 too. She is also creating the soundtrack of the documentary herself which she said is completely different to her usual style.

She said: "It's the kind of music I originally started writing, I've gone back to who I am. The first songs I wrote were me on my piano and so I've gone back to sitting at the piano and pouring my heart out."

The documentary is being filmed independently and is set to be shown at several film festivals.

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