Why is celebrating Black music important to you?
Celebrating Black music is important because it’s crucial to reflect on the influence of African and African-American culture on almost all forms of music. From African drumming, to jazz to soul music we hear the traces of those sources in almost every piece of music on or off the radio.
What do you think of the current state of the music industry?
What I long to see is more diverse artistry in the mainstream. I’m waiting for more artists to be willing to create really original sounding music and not just replicate whatever is “hot” and trendy. I don’t think I could stand to hear one more song with autotune! Because of the prevalence of music competition shows and reality tv, I think audiences are ready now to take a closer look into the process of making art and the journey of interesting artists. People would be amazed by how different and how similar a Classical musician’s “road to the top” is compared to a Pop artist.
What is your favorite song currently?
Actually, my favorite song is one I just created called “Fire”! Even though I make a large part of my career playing standard and Contemporary Classical music, I’ve been branching out with music I call Hybrid Hip Hop. It incorporates beats produced for me by my partner-in-crime ,Roburt Reynolds, with me on keyboards and piano. In a recent quickie recording session in New Orleans, we came up with a Bossanova track, a Dancehall track, and Fire is a bass-heavy thumper. I’m actually going to rap over “Fire” so it’s been stuck in my head non-stop. I’m so excited to release an EP in the Fall with all these new tracks on my brand new label I’m launching called Superwoman Records.
What do you love almost as much as music?
Almost as much as music, I love speaking (and tweeting) inspirationally to audiences and to anyone who asks for advice. I have an online platform called Emerge Already! that provides career-building assistance to emerging artists. Basically, all the stuff I wished they’d taught me in school, that I had to figure out the hard way, I bottle that knowledge up and pass it along. As a Christian, I believe very strongly in the concept of being created with a divine purpose, so helping people not only discover their passions but also learn how to create a career and lifestyle around that passion so that they can greatly impact others gives me great fulfillment.
Who influences you most?
I don’t have one influence but I’m constantly looking for people to learn from. One figure that continually draws my attention is the historical King David in the Old Testament. Not just because he has this great rags to riches, warrior king story but because he was so painfully human. He had lots of successes but had tons of setbacks and made more than a few bad decisions, some that haunted him and his family for generations. Some things he was saved from, other things he had to suffer though and that’s real life. When you’re an artist with big dreams it’s painful to have any of them dashed. So it’s nice to have a model for how to move forward, how to actually surrender your grand plans to something that might actually be greater and ultimately better for you.
A world without music is…?
…a world without dancing and that’s a shame!
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