June 7th, at 2:51 a.m., I received a text that said “At hospital. Been admitted 334. Love u.” It was my friend, Jazzmine Phoenix.
This morning I received a call that she had died.
I asked Carlton Fletcher if he would write a tribute to her, and he said he would be happy to but he thought it would be more meaningful coming from me.
Jazzmine and I were friends for 24 years. We were probably as close as two people can be. We often compared our relationship to a marriage because as people grow and change, they encounter problems. But no matter what happened between us, we always found our way back to each other. I think I was probably the person who knew her better than anyone. As she would often say ... I knew where all the bodies were buried.
Like most people, I always called her Jazzmine, but I was lucky enough to know not only her amazing radio persona but also the real woman ... Danita Martin.
Danita was a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan. She would literally block you, for life, from her social media if you spoke ill of her beloved Dirty Birds. Even more than the Falcons, she loved Prince. Numerous times over the past 24 years, we would have adult slumber parties, sing Prince songs and talk about men. She had the best men stories. She was also an artist, and if you knew her well, I’m sure you own (and will treasure) a personalized piece of her art.
Our love of music was one of the things that bonded us, although we never could get on the same page about Jazz. When she heard new music, she would share it with me and I reciprocated. I remember the first time she listened to Chris Stapleton’s “Sometimes I Cry.” She said, “Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” and slapped me on the arm, making that fake pouty face she used to get her way.
More than anything, though, Jazzmine loved her family. Even though her mother passed when Jazzmine was in her 20s, her love and admiration for Helen never waivered. Every year, Jazzmine celebrated her mother’s birthday and she talked about her endlessly. And her dad — who we lovingly called Dougie Fresh ... Not long ago, Jazzmine spent months taking him to treatment for cancer and nursing him back to health. I will always admire what she did for him.
I was with Jazzmine many times when her dad called, and even though she would roll her eyes as he questioned her about what she was doing, who she was doing it with and telling her why she shouldn’t be doing that, I knew she was so grateful to have him. Mr. Martin passed away just an hour before Jazzmine. Even though I am not a religious person, Jazzmine was, and I like to think that Dougie Fresh crossed his daughter over and the first two people she saw were her mom and Prince.
As much as she loved her mother and father, they were second to Jazzmine’s sister and her two nieces, who were the loves of her life.
You can’t talk about the life of Jazzmine Phoenix without bringing up her radio career. As a student at Albany State University, she started working for Brady Keys. She went on to work on various stations, including Magic 97 and Q-102. Nobody in our business had a better connection with their listeners than Jazzmine. In the ratings, Jazzmine was the one to beat and not only was she my best friend, she was my stiffest competition. Jazzmine was a friend to everyone, always had a kind word and had the amazing ability to make everyone feel at ease.
Once word of Jazzmine’s passing spread, I got a lot of calls and messages. I wanted to share one of those: “Her presence in this world will be missed terribly. Today heaven gained an amazing angel with a hell of a smile. May she paint her art in the clouds for all to see.”
I’m not sure I was the right person to write this. I’m still in shock over the loss. She deserves so many more professional accolades and more beautiful words than I know. There’s is no way to convey what a loss this is to me and to so many others.
One thing is for sure: Jazzmine Phoenix/Danita Martin will always be missed, loved and remembered with a smile.