“We are providing an outlet for those who are interested in music and the music business.” - Jennifer Toliver
Jennifer Toliver, professionally known as Jin On Dem Boards, is an audio engineer and founder of JODB Productions, a company founded to support independent artists on the South Side as well as the Can I Live Block Party Chicago. This is a hip-hop event she is planning for September 12 to showcase the South Side’s best upcoming artists, inspire youth to pursue the various careers associated with the music production business, and most of all just give the community an evening of fun and entertainment.
“We are providing an outlet for those who are interested in music and the music business,” she says. “[Our goal is] bringing music to them in a way that they can relate to but at the same time sending a message that you can play in this block party next year, if you want to be a stage manager or a host. These are tangible things, you just gotta be in the right direction.”
Jennifer is no stranger to hardships on the path to the music production business, though. After growing up in Woodlawn, she studied audio engineering at Columbia College. She has a few more credits to go before she graduates, but one of the main difficulties Jennifer has encountered is facing the fact that she is a woman in a male-dominated business, let alone as a single mother trying to provide for her son.
“Everyone is focused on making money and being able to have a stable life or whatever the case may be. They go toward the jobs that are out there, [where] they can get hired quick fast and I’m like I’ve got this idea and it’s crazy but I know a lot of people will benefit from it,” she says, explaining how she stays motivated.
This has not stopped Jennifer from planning the Can I Live block party over the past three years, handling everything from artists’ needs to event insurance, though she has had to reschedule twice because of funding issues. In the meantime, she took part in the Community Business Academy last fall to formally structure her company and recently completed a successful micro-lending campaign through Kiva Zip.
While her ultimate dream may be winning a Grammy for audio engineering, her main focus is to showcase what the South Side has to offer, musically and otherwise, by developing quality, affordable music productions and continuing to produce community events like the Can I Live block party. Jennifer hopes to spread the event to “urban communities that are kind of lacking that experience, giving them the opportunity to see it and be inspired by it and be that person to make a change wherever they are and in whatever situation they’re in.”
“Live entertainment isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” she says. “The South Side itself is very interested in the music, just the generation and the culture, and it’s a heavy influence [on them]. I wanted to be able to do something in the community that is building that business.”