Touring professional Jayde Brooks has done nearly every job you can on tour while having to constantly prove herself just for being a Black mother. From Teddy Riley to Future to even New Kids on the Block, Brooks has been a tour manager, wardrobe stylist, assistant, and everything in between to make sure the show goes on.
“I had to make sure [Teddy Riley] had red velvet Oreos. I had to make sure his stuff was blinged out. I didn’t know how to bling anything. I had to find someone in small country towns to bling his stuff out and hope they gave me their hat back because there have been times people didn’t give me my shit back,” Brooks told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the dynamic touring professional recalls Future’s mother believing in her, helping Bobby Brown with a bathroom emergency during a show, and why she’s the most proud to have been on tour with New Kids on the Block.
The first artist you went on tour with was Teddy Riley. How did you get that opportunity?
We have to start from the beginning (laughs). I started in Chicago as an executive assistant for a mental health non-profit. The main purpose of it was to bring mental health to the community. I did benefit dinners and concerts. In the first week there, the CEO was like, ‘I have x amount of dollars. I want Tank, Eric Benét, and Brian McKnight to do a concert for mental health. You have six weeks to put it on.’ I knew nobody. I had to find a venue and a way to get in touch with these people. This was back in 2014, so Instagram wasn’t really popping like that. You had to do some real work. I had to figure out how to promote it and all of that. Valentine’s Day came, and I was 200 tickets from selling out. It was a really good show. Tank’s team absolutely adored me and invited me to Montego Bay, Jamaica for Keith Sweat’s Sweat Fest. The festival was on my birthday. At the festival, Teddy Riley got on stage and performed. My drunk, bold ass walked up to him like, ‘I love all of your music. What do you do?’ He cracked the fuck up. He asked for my name and I asked for his. He said, ‘It’s just Teddy.’ I was in the car with Tank’s people telling them, ‘Just Teddy did his thing. He said he made ‘Remember The Time’ and all of this other music.’ They laughed at me like, ‘Jayde, that was Teddy Riley.’
Fast forward to the following day, we were at breakfast and Teddy saw me. He hugged me instantly and then pulled one of them to the side to ask, ‘You think she’d be my assistant? Do you think she’d relocate? She has kids or a man?’ They told him no. He approached me and asked me. I was on a flight to Atlanta in about two weeks and haven’t returned. He fired his wardrobe stylist and I was already his assistant, so he was like, ‘Come on the road and help Blackstreet and me with our wardrobe and be my assistant.’
What were your day-to-day responsibilities with Teddy on that first tour?
Teddy is very particular. I wore two hats on my very first tour, and I didn’t know anything about wardrobe. He had me as his assistant, so I had to ensure all of his women were taken care of and that he was good. He’s very particular about his diet. He’s artistic, so we had a studio bus. I had to make sure he had his red velvet Oreos. I had to make sure his stuff was blinged out. I didn’t know how to bling anything. I had to find someone in small country towns to bling his stuff out and hope they gave me their hat back because there have been times people didn’t give me my shit back. I’d hear about that later.
Not all of us were able to go to those Teddy Riley concerts. What did you notice about his live show?
Teddy assigns a music director, but he’s really the music director. Anyone hired on Teddy’s team had to be ready to hear Teddy. He did not miss a soundcheck. He doesn’t miss rehearsals. He’s the first one there and the last one out. You may think it’s a 12-hour day, but it’s really an 18-hour day. That man doesn’t sleep. When you’re gone, he’s still there trying to fine-tune everything because he can play every instrument anyone in his band can. On stage, people don’t know he has cues for his band if he doesn’t like something. When he gets off stage, he might snap off on one of the guys like, ‘You missed the ‘dun’ after the ‘uh uh’’ (laughs). He was amazing.
View this post on Instagram
Teddy has been changing live shows for generations. What were the fan interactions like?
He didn’t do meet-and-greets or any of that. He’s very private and a germaphobe so as far as fan interactions, I’ve never witnessed it because he always stayed in the house. I was always out. He was always on the studio bus when we were on the road.
You worked with Trey Songz after Teddy.
I did a residency show with Trey Songz. His assistant was getting married, and I was supposed to come in after her, but she decided to keep her job. Teddy’s daughters danced with Trey at the time, so they put me on that gig. After Trey was The Dream, and then it was Tyrese Gibson. After Tyrese, it was Future and Freebandz.
What was the difference between working with Trey and working with Teddy?
Trey liked to be outside. Teddy goes, gets his money and goes home, which I loved. After he got off stage, I’m not trying to go to Drai’s. I’m tired. I want to sleep. Touring is a lot. Trey was very active. That’s the most I can say. It was a bit of a shell shock because I came from someone who was to himself to someone who liked to be outside. When his assistant was training me, I didn’t understand always being on the go. I was 23/24 at the time, and I was tired.
View this post on Instagram
When fans see a show, they see the final product of a lot of hard work. What are some fires you put out to keep the show going?
There were so many. For Bobby Brown, we were doing Essence Fest. Bobby was backstage and had to use the bathroom. He had on all white. The guys were on stage, and I had to find a box so Bobby could use the bathroom. He was backstage singing on the box with a microphone in hand. All I could think was, ‘Who is going to pick up this box when he’s done?’ He got off the box, and I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t have any shit on his white clothes. He got off the box, and there was no one there to pick up the box. I had to hurry up because Missy Elliott was coming after us.
How did your role evolve with Freebandz?
With Freebandz, I was Future’s mother’s assistant. I was supposed to be Future’s assistant because Ebonie Ward played many roles. When I interviewed, it was initially for Future. At that time, there were talks about him and Nicki going on tour. He hired me on the spot, too, but then saw my engagement ring. He was like, ‘Alright, if I’m interested, I’ll let you know.’ I told him straight up, ‘Don’t let my relationship status dictate my work ethic.’ That’s something women have to deal with. He told me, ‘No, it’s not that. It’s just if I call you at two in the morning, I don’t want there to be any problems.’ His mother loved me, and she was his day-to-day manager. She handled everything. She hired me less than a week after that interview because she was right there in the room. She was like, ‘Nah, she’s a golden gem; we need her.’ So, I ended up working with Future anyway.
What was Future’s live show preparation?
There was a lot of smoke. There were a lot of people around all of the time. He didn’t have any dancers. He liked a lot of people around him right before he performed. There were always a lot of people around him in the dressing room and backstage.
View this post on Instagram
What was the most complicated show you had to make happen with Future?
Ms. Jay, Future’s mom, is such a stickler; we never had any problems. His mom knows him better than he knows himself, so we ain’t really have any issues. He was the first rapper I worked with, and thank God for her and the people she put in place to help. At the time, his driver was his uncle. A lot of people don’t know Freebandz is very family-oriented. So, it runs really smoothly.
Did you see moments of Future and his mom’s mother/son relationship on tour?
Future loves his mother. Ms. Jay would randomly get flowers to the office and her house. He was just calling and checking up on her. I had never seen anything like that. I’ve seen Future as a father because the kids were always around or Ms. Jay would have the kids, which would mean I would have the kids, too. We had those moments. I was only there for seven or eight months.
What is your greatest talent?
I’m highly organized. I’m very communicative. People trust me because I’m a straight shooter. I always hire assistants on the spot that come on tour with me to assist me. So, it’s not like you’re just hiring me. You’re entrusting that I got it. I got it if you hire me as your wardrobe stylist, tour manager or road manager. I’ll tell you like it is. If you want Canada Dry but there’s only Seagrams, I got this for you — take it or leave it. It is what it is. I’m not going to run to 50 different stores for ginger ale. I’ll run to four but not 50.
View this post on Instagram
How did becoming a mother affect your work on the road?
I had to prove myself constantly. I was pregnant with my daughter and [touring with Bell Biv DeVoe]. I slept on the top bunk. No one knew I was pregnant but their DJ, DJ Shakim, and the MD Yungwurld. Shakim was like, ‘Don’t tell them and keep wearing your baggy shit.’ After six weeks, I couldn’t hold that shit anymore. My back started hurting, and I was waddling because I was fat. They found out, had my daughter, and I had to prove myself again. As Black women, we already have to prove ourselves. Now I had to prove myself as a mom of one. Then, when I had my son, I had to prove myself again because it was like, ‘Oh, she got two kids now. She doesn’t have support like that. I have to pay her more.’ Nah, you have to pay me more because the price went up. Yesterday’s price ain’t today’s price.
What is the show or tour you’re the proudest of?
The one I’m on now because this is my first white tour. It’s allowed me to get into the pop world, and this year has been the most lucrative for me. I’ve got calls, text messages, and emails for other artists for tour manager positions. My assistant and I are the only Black people on the New Kids on the Block side. I brought my assistant on. I’m super proud of this right here.
What do you have coming up for the rest of the year?
I’m doing Hawaii. New Edition has a residency. Then, hopefully, I can get on the Iggy [Azalea] tour.