Give us some background. Where are you from originally, where are you now, how did you get there?
I’m from Liberia, West Africa, but I’ve lived in Los Angeles, California for the last six years. I fled from a very bloody and destructive civil war to make a better life for myself and to help my family. It’s kind of funny—I never intended to pursue a career in music even though I grew up singing in a church choir. In fact, my mom still directs that choir. When I got to Los Angeles, my only goal was to pursue a career in business. But I’m also an athlete and I like to stay fit, so I go to the gym a lot. Anyhow, one afternoon I was singing in the locker room at the gym, not knowing anyone else was there. But in fact another gym member overheard me and assumed I was a professional singer. When he asked me about my next performance, I laughed. I told him I had no upcoming performances because I was not a professional vocalist. He gave me this weird look and said, “So what are you doing in LA, then?” Before I could answer, he said, “Look, son, I think you have a natural talent, but don’t take my word for it. Let me introduce you to a friend of mine who’s been a vocal coach for the longest time. Listen to what she has to say then decide what you want to do.” I took his advice and here I am now.
What Genre would you classify yourself as?
My music crosses Pop, World, and Adult Contemporary.
What is it that drove you to pursue a career in music, and what it is that drives you individually as a musician or a band?
Most of all, my passion for the craft. The challenge of seeing the start, development, and completion of a song. The thought process, persistence and dedication needed to put all the pieces together so that a song will transcend the ordinary but also make sense to the next person. The fact that I can share my thoughts and feelings through this medium still amazes me. What drives me as a musician? Like my song “Feeling” says, I got a feeling in my soul that’s running twenty miles a minute. A feeling that has taken a serious hold of me and won’t let go. And believe me I’ve tried. But no matter what I do, it’s always there. I’ve come to realize that this is me and has always been for as long as I can remember. Like another one of my songs, “But U,” says, “Don’t try to be no one else but you,” because it won’t work. It just won’t work because you can only be you—so here I am.
What struggles have you faced with having your music heard and getting your name recognized by outside markets?
Hummm, where should I start? Seriously, being an independent unknown artist says it all. It’s difficult getting on the radio, getting paid gigs in LA, getting promotion and advertising, weeding through the people who talk lots of game and connects but have none, weeding through the real and the fake, getting the music to the right people. The list goes on and on. This is because indie artists are still up against the labels with all the money and connects. However, you have to continuously seek the way. It takes a lot of work, time, and energy but you have no choice—especially if you want to make a living in this game. And, yes, unfortunately that’s what it is to some people, a game. But, I’m doing what I can through friends (grassroots marketing), social networks, word of mouth, and a medium like this interview. Hopefully, all that effort will kick things off. You see, I appreciate this interview so much because it’s a great way to get the word out there. So thanks very much to Music Without Labels for this opportunity. And those of you who are reading this, please help spread the word about my music. I greatly appreciate it and promise you won’t be disappointed.
What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?
Charity begins at home and ends abroad. As I mentioned above, I started with my friends and asked them to share my music with their friends. Social networks like Facebook, twitter, Myspace, etc. Go into your individual communities. You take every opportunity to perform; you do fliers and post them everywhere you can. Also, I always ask friends for help as well as ideas because you never know. These are just a few of the things I’ve found that you can do yourself, and you build on that.
Is there a predominant message you hope to get across in your songs?
The most important message is to care for, love, share with and help one another. This will definitely make our world a much better place and alleviate most of our problems. I can guarantee you that.
What are your thoughts on the future of the music industry and where it’s going?
The future is very promising because artists now have more control over their craft and the fans will benefit from the variety. The industry as we know it—big record labels—will be gone or change dramatically because of the new tools and media that are becoming available to artists.
Are you currently unsigned, and do you plan on staying independent?
Yes, right now I’m unsigned. Ultimately, the opportunities presented to me by a major label will determine my decision on whether to go that direction.
What are your reasons for being an independent artist?
I’m smiling because at this point I have no choice, but the big advantage to me of this situation is the control I have over my music and my image and how they’re presented.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Maxwell, Seal, Luther Vandross, Jason Mratz, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Boyz II Men, Neyo, James Ingram, Beyonce, Bob Marley, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, just to name a few.
Do you ever feel that people will be missing out on your music because you are not signed to a major record label?
Some people may miss out on it because I’m not signed to a major label—but I’m trying to overcome that by reaching out in various ways—like this interview—to connect my music with people I’ll never meet. I hope I succeed because I believe almost everybody can relate to my lyrics even though we all have different tastes in music.
What would you say if I told you that there’s a new force in Independent Music that will give you all of the power of the Major Labels and more, while at the same time giving you complete control over all aspects of your musical career, and you will never have to sign a thing?
I’d say I need to be connected to that new force ASAP.
And you would have access to the world’s first ever audio component auction, where pieces of songs are sold off at auction prices to be repurposed in other songs. What kind of impact do you think that would have on your music?
Potentially a very big impact, especially in regard to opportunities for collaboration, different types of exposure, opportunities to work with different people and genres, as well as opportunities for new revenue streams.
The only catch is you have to choose to use it to your benefit, or not.
I’d like to hope that any benefit I gain in terms of promoting my music is also in some way a benefit to everyone who hears my music and message.
It’s called Beat-Play, and it will be beta tested this Fall 09. Sign up at www.MusicWithoutLabels.com