On Monday night’s premiere episode of Making The Band, singer Jaila Simms emerged as one of the show’s strongest -- and most controversial -- contestants. A powerhouse vocalist from Chicago, Jaila appeared early in the show, insisting that talent should matter more than a contestant’s “story.”
Nevertheless, Jaila’s story -- specifically that she's a transgender woman -- quickly came to the fore during her Los Angeles auditions, in which she wowed Diddy with her soulful rendition of Estelle’s “American Boy.”
Simms was born and raised outside of Chicago, where she has been singing all her life. She attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and has appeared in many Off-Broadway productions.
Simms, who grew up in Joliet and now lives in South Shore, had auditioned a few years ago for "Making the Band" but wasn't one of the chosen ones.
Back then Simms, was still "male" and auditioned as a singer for a boy band, but this time around she was "one of the girls."
Roughly three years ago, Simms began her transition from male to female, but that didn’t stop her career — it simply changed the roles that she was able to audition for.