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|Wed, July 12, 2006 at 9:08 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Nya Jade released her debut album, MY DENIAL, June 13th on Katako Records. Jade's lead single and video "One Pill" was available as a free download on AOL MUSIC and was featured on VH1.com, VH1 Soul, MTV U, BET's "Ya Heard," and Music Choice, generating buzz on the strength of its songwriting and original subject matter, which addresses our pharmacologically obsessed culture.
BlackVibes.com recently sat down to speak with Nya Jade.
BV: How did you first get into music?
NJ: I was a late bloomer. I got into music singing in a group in high school but it was for a class and I loved it. I then went to college and joined an acapella group and we used to perform the first week for new students and things like that.
So in terms of performing that was my start.
BV: Who are your influences?
NJ: I've got a wide array of influences, I love Bob Marley I grew in the Caribbean circut, so we listened to a lot of Bob. Then also I loved rock bands like U2 and Coldplay. I also like hip-hop arstists like Kanye West. So I go across the board
BV: I think that definitely translates in your music. So you're from California?
NJ: Well I am originally from Ghana, I have been in the states now for about 11 years.
BV: How do you think Ghana has influenced your music?
NJ: I left at a really young age but my parents were brought up in all the traditions. We have this music that we call highlife. Its upbeat, very warm, a lot of fun. I grew up listening to that too. Its difficult to pinpoint how any one particular style influenced me but its definitely all in there.
BV: Living in California now do you feel like this is a good breeding ground for the music you are doing now?
NJ: San Francisco is kind of different from the rest of what's coming out of the bay area. The spotlight in the Bay is a lot more on soul and R&B. Keyshia Cole Is from out here. Flypside a band with the rock and hip-hop thing going on, is from out here. People are starting to pay more attention to wants going on in the Bay and its great to be a part of that.
BV: Do you find it challenging, since the Bay is known more for Hip-Hop abd R&B?
NJ: Its challenging cause I feel that's what people are expecting, but I like being different.
BV: How did the song "Crawl" from your album come to fruition.
NJ: When I write, its a combination of my personal experiences and experiences from chatting with girlfriends or guy friends about relationships. Its definitely one of those songs about the ups and downs of a rough relationship, where you feel like you someone lifts you high just to see you fall. There are some people that feed off the fact that they can pull your strings in such a way you think doing things to exhault you, but its to build you up just to break you down. "Crawl" came from that perspective.
BV: What was the recording process like for this album, "My Denial"
NJ: I did it in different stages where part of it was recorded in the bay area with a young up and coming producer. The other part was recorded in L.A. with a producer named Jack Douglas who is legendary in the industry. He won a Grammy for his work with John Lenin of the Beatles. He is also well known for the records he did with Areosmith. I gravitated to that that rock element because that is so much a part of me. It was great to go into the studio with him, see his process, combine both
BV: Which song is the most special to you and why?
NJ: It's so hard to answer that question. I always tell people ...that's like asking a parent who is your favorite child.' I fee
|Tue, July 11, 2006 at 12:00 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
DAMN SHE'S GOOD...
It's early on a rainy Wednesday morning. Nine thirty am. I'm shuffling through notes and reviewing my questions- second guessing the ones I had already finalized. My cinnamon raisin bagel that I asked to be lightly buttered was drowning in yellow goop. A bottle of water spilled in my bag and almost destroyed my papers, my notes, and my terribly battered cell phone. The rain had already begun and my umbrella was malfunctioning. Great. I was already feeling stressed before I even got to the office.
In my portable CD Player (I'll probably be the last person on earth to get an i-pod), Amel Larrieux's latest masterpiece, "Morning", soothes my New York early morning madness. What a perfect album title for me. Morning. It's simple, and yet- just like my day, amazingly complex. I turn to track number eight, to a song called "Magic", and sing along- "When the stress level's high and the morale's low and the wind is looking like it's about to blow, tap into your magic...". Then suddenly, I start to feel better. I feel like everybody in New York should just stop and start singing along with me. I feel like some kind of goddess who can control the universe with a simple snap of my fingers. I feel... I dunno... magical, I guess... and just like that- though the rest of New York was rainy and dismal...I felt full of sunshine. And I think to myself, Damn she's good...
By the time I got Amel on the phone to talk with her on behalf of Blackvibes.com, her music had already given me so much magic to get through the day. I was eager to see if the artist behind the words would be just as magical. To my pleasant surprise, she was even more charming on the phone. And now, as I share this interview with everyone else, I only hope you are as delighted as I was...
BV: How did you discover your passion for music?
Amel: I remember always loving music, loving dance, and loving art because I grew up around it- my parents were involved in it as well as their friends, but it wasn't a novelty for me. It was a part of life. I remember the moment that I felt like if I wasn't doing something musical I would be sad, and that was in high school- ninth grade. I had entered a Performing Arts High School in Philadelphia, and it was the first time that I was singing in a choir with kids who were serious [about singing].
Their voices would make you have goosebumps... like if you were standing next to them. It was hard for me to concentrate on singing because the vibrations and the rush that I was getting from singing in this choir, whether we were singing Bach or Mozart, or contemporary songs, jazz, and spirituals... it was a religious feeling for me. I felt like I was levitating... and I had never felt like that. You know, you're like thirteen years old! It was crazy. I think that was a really defining moment for me.
I don't remember consciously saying-"Oh, I'm going to have a career in singing and writing songs", but I just know that I'd come to school and if anything- singing was the highlight of my day. It lifted me. That's kind of when that path was chosen for me. Or maybe I chose it myself.
BV: That's dope. And I think that those of us who see you perform get that same feeling that you had hearing those kids in the choir.
Amel: (shy laugh) Aww... thank you...
BV: So then, fast forwarding - in this music industry... what are some of the challenges you've faced as a Woman of Color in this business?
Amel: The challenges are things like being stereotyped or pigeon-holed. And this goes beyond the [wave] of people asking "What do you think of Neo Soul?"...bla bla bla... I'm like- b
|Mon, June 26, 2006 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Lina has the curves, the vocals, and the appeal to be anyone's next sexpot songstress; she's a cocoa colored beauty with almond eyes. And with the industry being the way is now, for her, her attractiveness could also translate into instant dollar signs and super-stardom. Yet Lina makes it clear that not every woman's ambition is to on be the next cover of King Magazine. Her career won't be based off the way she fits into a Versace dress, and she is not alone. The Vivian Greens and Jill Scotts have sought to capitalize on something else, their amazing talent.
Lina, the Texas-based vocalist who made her move last year to Hidden Beach Records, is mainly concerned with making her listeners feel something. She uses her experiences and writing skills to convey understanding; her observations express the mind-set of emotion. When asked why she most closely identifies with the chosen genre of E. Badu and Angie Stone, she remarks, "Neo-soul tends to evoke more passion and feeling than the R and B songs of the day."
"Music is about the passion in words," Lina states in a raspy voice, not the passion in between our thighs. It's not the length of our skirts or the amount of booty hanging out of our shorts. "Erykah Badu is sexy, but she doesn't have to take off her clothes (to show it)." Lina makes a point. And even when it was discovered that E. Badu's loc'ed look was just a wig, it didn't really tarnish her career. The hype was never really about Badu's hair, but let your Beyonce or Ciara imitations ditch the weave and see how many people fall off of their bandwagons.
With Lina, it's not only about respect for her image; it's also about the youth. "I work with children, and there are little girls 11 and 12 years old wanting to be strippers when they grow up." The visualization of monkey see, monkey do, in the truest form has young women thinking that type of sexual behavior should be an everyday occurrence. Lina takes the road less traveled by refusing to be a poster girl for promiscuity and degradation. But don't think for a moment that Lina can't get simply sexy when the occasion requires it. She describes her style as bohemian, but "every day she gets up and puts on something different." This mistress of soul, jazz, and elements of swing is refreshingly eclectic.
Her soulful outlook on life comes in part from her mother who taught her that God loves everyone. "I would be mad, cursing someone who did me wrong, and she would remind me that God even loves them; she taught me to be a woman." In an industry run by over-sexed men, any valid lesson is much needed. Attractive women find their business sense constantly challenged, aware that one false move could seal the end to a promising career. "It would be late nights in the studio and producers would try me," she says, "I'd have to watch people's motives." And since Lina is selling CDs, not sex, we can only expect to see growth from this songstress who knows exactly what her music is about.
|Fri, June 23, 2006 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
BlackVibes.com recently sat down with Brooklyn songstress Maya Azucena to discuss touring, recording and her plans for the future.
BV: How would you define your music, first of all?
Maya: I call my sound raw soul. Raw like R-A-W. And what that is like a live beat soul with hip hop and um you know I kind of don't really fit into the space of neo soul so much because my impression of neo soul is...something that maybe has a bad reputation now among some artists. You know, it reminds me of stuff being so smooth it almost makes you fall asleep.
BV: Ha ha. Ok
Maya: So I don't think I necessarily fit in that category.
BV: DO a lot of people try to put you into that category?
Maya: No actually, people don't try to really put me in that category, but then they want to know how to describe what I'm doing. You know?
BV: That was my first impression, actually. When I listened to it. I said, "ok, its kind of got a neo soul kinda feel, but alotta hip hop too. I could kinda hear that as well.
Maya: Yeah, it is also stuff that I carry with me in my performance and my love of music. High energy.
BV: Where would you say you've been best received? What market that has been the most appreciative of your sound?
Maya: I've been getting a good response in all the places that I go. It seems from my perspective, what I'm doing is appealing to a lot of different audiences. I've been touring. For example, I played recently in St. Louis on a bill with Jaguar Wright and I got a standing ovation and I loved that.
That was great. It was grimey and fun and great. You know what I'm saying? I have a very good relationship with the bay area. When I play there I get a lot of love from them. I recently played in Toronto. And King Carson...encores and we just had a really great experience. New York is my home so when I'm in New York I'm in my own territory.
I recently started playing in Europe. When I played in London and Sweden and Sweden they just went bonkers. They love soul music and they really gave me mad love. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I had guest local rappers from the Netherlands get up with us. We had the DJ cutting and scratching in between us and it was just great.
BV: Do you have any plans to go back over there? Back to Europe, South Africa or wherever?
Maya: Definitely. After you go one time its like a driving reason to keep working so you can go back again. So I definitely plan to be back there by the end of this summer and of course to expand past the two places I have already been. You know, last week I had the opportunity to go to Croatia. in Eastern Europe. Now I cut back to New York and my next show in New York is the Brooklyn Hip Hop festival. I'm on a bill with Lupe Fiasco, Big Daddy Kane, Rhymefest. I am trying to grow.
BV: What are some of your influences? When I was listening you kinda put me in the mind of Chaka Kahn, a little bit Kelis and little bit Jill Scoot. What are your influences current and past?
Maya: Earth Wind and Fire, Prince, Stevie Wonder as Songwriters. As a singer, my old school influences was a classic gospel artist named Mahalia Jackson. She is actually Aretha Franklin's main inspiration and then Ella Fitzgerald. Prince and Michael Jackson are big influences as far as singing goes. I have contemporary inspirations around me all the time like fellow artists in my life who are doing their thing. I love Mary J. Blige, she has been on her own for a really long time. I have a lot of respect for artists like Alicia Keys and John Legend who are making real music, bringing in elements of classic and current. And as far
|Thurs, June 22, 2006 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Long gone are the days when producers were encouraged not to venture outside of their respective craft. From Puffy turning ...Take that, take that' into a multi- million dollar empire, to Jazzy Phe lending his jazzy vocals on some of today's hottest tracks, music production teams have been finding success in the artist's arena as well. With Miami catching fire as the South continues to blow up, Dre from the infamous Cool and Dre production team has made his move to the recording booth, emerging as a lyricist on the Epidemic label, their imprint with Jive Records. With names like The Game, Christina Milian, and Ja Rule on their production resume, Dre should have little trouble making his mark in the hip-hop world.
BV:Congratulations on your recent production awards. When did you know that ...Hate it or Love It' was a hit?
Dre:When I heard it for the first time, I was like, ...Yo, something feels good about it.' It just felt good. And the way the industry is, they want a club record. But the people heard ...Hate it or Love it' and went crazy with it. DJs started playing it, even though it wasn't out as a single. It was playing and they couldn't deny it.
BV:Yeah. You definitely hit it big with that one.
Dre:The way this whole producer thing goes, your ducks have to fall in a row. You have to have a succession of records that come out...in order to blow. It happened with the Neptunes, with Timbaland, and with Kanye. The Neptunes had a hit with N.O.R.E., but nothing came after that for a couple years. So when they did the Mystikal record, the Ray J. record, the Mya/Beenie Man record, and then the other Mystikal record, then finally they did Jay-Z. That record was the one. ...Get ya bling like the Neptune sound', that was it.
BV:What is your formula for success?
Dre:We're blessed. We've had records come out back to back. It was ...Take Me Home' with the Terror Squad, Ja Rule's ...New York, New York', and then ...Hate It Or Love It'. And the ...Hate It Or Love It'/ ...New York, New York' theory had so much drama and soap opera theories around it. Those records put us into the stratosphere. People already knew about Cool and Dre because we had records that hit here and there.
BV:You're coming straight out of Miami, representing like Rick Ross. What's the movement down there right now?
Dre:It's dope. Rick Ross is someone I've been making records with for the past six years. ...Chevy Ridin' High' is actually the fourth record we've done together. He made ...Hustlin'' and it was starting to get a little love in Miami when I was in L.A. mixing Christina Milian's album. I went back home just to do ...Chevy Ridin' High' with him, and when I got home, ...Hustlin'' was big in Miami. And I was like, ...Rick, this is the time. Let's me and you do a record.'
BV:I heard Miami was on jump over Memorial Day weekend. Were you down there to partake in the festivities?
Dre:Hell yeah. It was crazy.
BV:They played your song ...Naomi' in the clubs?
Dre:Yeah. Cool gets mad at me because I don't perform it, but every time I do, people lose it. And I'm like, ...Yo, people really like this record.' I put ...Naomi' out just to let people know I was working on something, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to just shoot a video to let people know what I'm working on.
BV:Now you being a producer first and an artist second, what are the challenges and benefits you face?
Dre:It's a gift and a curse. The gift is not having the pitfalls of new artists, the shortcomings the labels present. I have money, so I can do things on my own. I already hav
|Tue, June 20, 2006 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
After taking some time off, Donell Jones has returned with a new album, a positive outlook, and a renewed sense of focus. Jones took time to sit down with BlackVibes.com at Jive Records Manhattan office.
It's a Tuesday morning: Enter Donell Jones, slightly late but far from Hollywood. His new album Journey of a Gemini is due out June 20th. Though on his 4th studio album, he's surprisingly humble, laid back, and mellow. The crooner is sporting a bald head, a red button up and a modest iced-out wrist watch and ring. After the introduction, he sets up his laptop, takes a sip of water, and is ready to talk:
BV: Chicago...What's your earliest recollection of doing music?
DJ: My first recollection is pretty much with my group in Chicago, Porche (poor - shay). We would go all around the whole city performing and trying to get our name out there but nobody ever bit.
BV: Your 4th album is about to drop. What direction are you going on this album?
DJ: I'm pretty much staying in the same direction I been in. I have a certain sound and I really don't want to change that. What makes this album different than the previous ones is that I did incorporate some new producers. In the past I produced it with the help of Eddie F, most of the time. So this time I have a lot of different producers but it still sounds like Donell Jones.
BV: How do you feel about the state of R&B right now?
DJ: I feel like it's in good shape. You got people like Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, and so many great new artists that are coming right now making a lot of noise. I feel like it's in good shape.
BV: Over the last 10 years, the landscape of R&B has changed a lot do you ever fear that your fans may miss what you're trying to convey to them?
DJ: I don't think so, I have a hardcore fan base. A lot of people think that my fans are 25 and up but I beg to differ. When their parents were listening to my records they were babies now they're 18 and 19 and they know about me. It's just that I been off the scene for a while. I definitely feel like my fans won't miss this.
BV: How do you balance fatherhood with the rigors of touring, recording and performing?
DJ: For me it's been pretty easy. Throughout my history as an artist, I've always have a 2 year gap between my albums which gives me a chance to spend a lot of time with my children. They know what I do and they love it. At times it gets a little rough but they understand what I do.
BV: If we were to look in your disc changer or your I-pod what albums would we find?
DJ: You'll find my album, you'll find a lot of 50's Music, Destiny's Child, the bible.
BV: If you could perform with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
DJ: Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass
BV: What your's favorite Hip Hop album?
DJ: Ready to Die
BV: You've relocated to Atlanta, which seems to be the new...
DJ: ...New York?
BV: Exactly, has that changed your writing or your perspective at all from the
|Wed, June 14, 2006 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
University of Michigan- Fall Semester 1999- went like this: racial profiling, racist policies, and threats to revoke Affirmative Action. When the Black students finally decide to do something about it, three friends find themselves in the crossfire of their own revolution (Based on a true historical event)
"BLACK AT MICHIGAN"
A one-act play
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Marlies Yearby**
Assistant Directed by Channie Waites
When: June 15, 2006 at 7:30pm
Where: Cherry Lane Theatre - 38 Commerce St. (1 or 9 Train to Christopher St.)
Why: To spark a movement...
How: With talent, of course...
Damage: $18... and worth every penny....
CAST: Angela M. Lewis*, Glenn Gordon, Peyton Coles
With Videography by Grace Edwards
editing by Misa Dayson
****For more info on tickets - check out
www.downtownurban.net , and click on "schedule", or check out www.TheaterMania.com - 212.352.3101
Sponsors and Angels Donating Funds and Space to make this possible:
Gwendolen Hardwick of KickAss Artists, Strive Magazine, and Stephen Beasley
(Join the sponsor list!!! Contact Dominique - firstname.lastname@example.org)
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Wed, May 24, 2006 at 11:00 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
BlackVibes.com will be recognizing the contributions of women in music and the music industry throughout the month of June 2006. BV Women's Month will include a weekly artist spotlight, the woman's fact of the day, stories on business women in music, and features on today's emerging artists. Amel Larrieux, Kelis, India.Arie, Cassandra Wilson, Nya Jade, and Leela James are among the artists that will be honored throughout the month.
"Women are not only an integral part of our culture but also this economy. Recognizing that- we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate their artistry and many accomplishments" said BlackVibes.com CEO, Gerald Olivari.
For this and other news be sure to logon to http://www.blackvibes.com for exclusive coverage during BV Women's month.
For Inquires Please Contact:
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Thurs, May 18, 2006 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
If you're one of those people who wonders what happened to the sweet voiced Sammie who stole our hearts with his hit single, "I Like", stop pondering. After ducking out of the music scene to finish high school and ...live a normal life for a second', the 18 year old Sammie is back, all grown up and ready to re-emerge as a young man.
With younger solo acts like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, and Mario taking a hold on the hip-hop world, Sammie is due for some competition. He acknowledges that he must ...work extra hard to establish himself all over again', but judging on his past success, it shouldn't be too hard. After all, his debut album helped rekindle the youth movement for artists such as Bow Wow and Lil' Romeo. Before Sammie, there were no 12 or 13 year old artists in hip hop or R&B that actually sold records.
"What was it like being a child star?" I asked.
"It was a lot of fun," he responded, "Who doesn't want to be 12 or 13 years old on stage and have a lot of girls screaming for you? At that age, you're really not business-minded; it's just a lot of fun doing something you're passionate about."
But he doesn't regret his decision to attend high school.
"I got to do some things that most young artists my age don't get to experience," he said. Sammie played on the basketball team and even got voted homecoming king; he also finally had a girlfriend and then did the ...whole break-up thing'. Don't expect to hear a bunch of sad love songs though. Sammie is single, but focused on his music.
Currently, Sammie is signed to Rowdy Records, Dallas Austin's label; Austin executive produced Sammie's first album. "Dallas is like a big brother to me," Sammie said, "And it's a great honor to be under someone of that caliber and stature."
"Did you have any hesitations about getting back into the music business?" I asked.
"Not at all," he said, "It's all I live and breathe for. It's something I love to do."
His self-titled album is due out at the end of June, and he does plan to tour this summer. "To my fans," he said, "Tell them I'm just happy to be back."