Asani – Women Who Sing

ASANI is an Aboriginal women’s trio from Edmonton.  They are Debbie Houle, Sarah Pocklington and Sherryl Sewepagaham.  This circle of First Nations and Metis women have performed across Canada and internationally at such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York, The Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. and the Saddledome in Calgary.  Their debut CD ‘Rattle and Drum’ was nominated for 11 music awards including a 2006 Juno nomination for Aboriginal Recording of the Year and received the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award (CAMA) for Best Female Traditional Cultural Roots Album, 2005.  Asani composed the theme song for the CAMA’s in 2005 and the honoring song for the Esquao Awards in 2009.   They have performed for the Dalai Lama, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and at the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, BC.
ASANI seek to use the inspiration of their cultural heritage to create music that is accessible to a wide audience, but delivers a powerful message from their hearts.  In October 2009, they released their sophomore CD “Listen,” to growing acclaim. The album establishes a new direction for the group, expending their sonic palette and going even deeper into vocal arrangements with unique depth and impact.


These women sing from their soul.  The amazing projection of sound allows them to sound as if they have omni.  Which is a directional microphone.


Since the release of their follow up cd “Listen”, ASANI has received a 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year and a 2010 Indian Summer Music Award for Best Spiritual Song.   In March of 2012, ASANI was acknowledged as a finalist by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce for an Alberta Business of Distinction Award as an Aboriginal Women Entrepreneur.

On March 19, 2012 Asani made their orchestral debut performing with the Lethbridge Symphony  at the Southminster United Church.    We would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for their financial support of this project.   Without that support it certainly would not have been possible.

The Godmother of Rock & Roll – Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born Rosetta Nubin on March 20, 1915, in Cotton Plant, Arkansas. Although the identity of her father is unknown, Tharpe’s mother, Katie Bell Nubin, was a singer, mandolin player and evangelist preacher for the Church of God in Christ; the COGIC, founded by a black Baptist bishop named Charles Mason in 1894, encouraged musical expression in worship and allowed women to preach. At the encouragement of her mother, Tharpe began singing and playing the spectrum acoustic guitar from a very young age, and was by all accounts a musical prodigy.rosetta2

She began performing onstage with her mother from the age of four, playing the guitar and singing “Jesus Is on the Main Line.” By age six, she had joined her mother as a regular performer in a traveling evangelical troupe. Billed as a “singing and guitar playing miracle,” Rosetta Tharpe accompanied her mother in hybrid performances—part sermon, part gospel concert—before audiences all across the American South.

In the mid-1920s, Tharpe and her mother settled in Chicago, Illinois, where the duo continued to perform religious concerts at the COGIC church on 40th Street while occasionally traveling to perform at church conventions throughout the country. As a result, Tharpe developed considerable fame as a musical prodigy, standing out in an era when prominent black female guitarists remained very rare; blues legend Memphis Minnie was the only such performer to enjoy national fame at the time.

In 1934, at the age of 19, Rosetta Tharpe married a COGIC preacher named Thomas Thorpe, who had accompanied her and her mother on many of their tours. Although the marriage only lasted a short time, she decided to incorporate a version of her first husband’s surname into her stage name, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, which she would use for the rest of her career.

In 1938, Tharpe moved to New York City, where she signed with Decca Records. On October 31 of that year, she recorded four songs for Decca: “Rock Me,” “That’s All,” “The Man and I” and “The Lonesome Road.” The first gospel songs ever recorded for Decca, all four of these recordings became instant hits, establishing Tharpe as one of the nation’s first commercially successful gospel singer.

Then, on December 23, 1938, Tharpe performed in John Hammond’s famous Spirituals to Swing Concert at Carnegie Hall. Her performance was controversial and revolutionary in several respects. Performing gospel music in front of secular audiences and alongside blues and jazz musicians was highly unusual, and within conservative religious circles the mere fact of a woman performing guitar music was frowned upon. Musically, Tharpe’s unique guitar style blended melody-driven urban blues with traditional folk arrangements and incorporated a pulsating swing sound that is one of the first clear precursors of rock and roll. The performance shocked and awed the Carnegie Hall audience. Later Tharpe gained even more notoriety by performing regularly with jazz legend Cab Calloway at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club.

During the early 1940s, Tharpe continued to bridge the worlds of religious gospel music with more secular sounds, producing music that defied easy classification. Accompanied by Lucky Millinder’s orchestra, she recorded such secular hits as “Shout Sister Shout,” “That’s All” and “I Want a Tall Skinny Papa.” “That’s All” was the first record on which Tharpe played the electric guitar; this song would have an influence on such later players as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

All the while, Tharpe kept up a grueling tour schedule, performing her gospel music in churches as well as playing secular clubs. One highlight was a weeklong stint on stage at New York’s famous Café Society before racially mixed crowds. Tharpe’s considerable crossover appeal was demonstrated during World War II when she became one of only two African American gospel artists to be asked to record “V-Discs” (the “V” stood for “victory”) for American troops overseas.

In the mid-1940s, Tharpe scored another musical breakthrough by teaming up with blues pianist Sammy Price to record music featuring an unprecedented combination of piano, guitar, and gospel singing. The duo’s two most famous tracks, recorded in 1944, were “Strange Things Happening Every Day” and “Two Little Fishes and Five Loaves of Bread.” However, in the face of intense criticism from the religious community, who viewed her jazzy collaborations with Price as the devil’s music, Tharpe returned to recording more Christian music later in the 1940s. In 1947, she formed a duet with fellow gospel singer Marie Knight to record such overtly spiritual traditional gospel songs as “Oh When I Come to the End of My Journey,” “Stretch Out” and “Up Above My Head” (“I Hear Music in the Air”).

Tharpe married Russell Morrison on July 3, 1951. The elaborate ceremony at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., attended by some 25,000 paying audience members, featured a gospel performance by Tharpe in her wedding dress and finished with a massive fireworks display.

In 1953, Tharpe and Knight deviated from the gospel genre to record a secular blues album. The experiment proved disastrous. Not only was the album a commercial failure, it also earned both artists widespread condemnation from the religious community that had provided their most loyal fan base. Tharpe and Knight parted ways shortly after the album’s release and neither ever recovered her previous popularity. Tharpe spent the remaining two decades of her career touring Europe and the United States, primarily playing gospel music.

Though she had a much lower profile during these years, Tharpe enjoyed several late-career highlights, including an acclaimed 1960 performance with James Cleveland at the Apollo in Harlem and a 1967 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival.

While on a European blues tour with Muddy Waters in 1970, Tharpe suddenly fell ill and returned to the United States. She suffered a stroke shortly after her return and, due to complications from diabetes, had to have a leg amputated. Despite her health woes, Tharpe continued to perform regularly for several more years. In October 1973, however, she suffered a second stroke and passed away days later, on October 9, 1973, at the age of 58, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

One of the most celebrated musicians of all time, Sister Rosetta Tharpe enjoyed a celebrity in the 1940s rarely attained by gospel musicians before or since. “She could play a guitar like nobody else you’ve ever seen,” her friend Roxie Moore said. “People would flock to see her. Everybody loved her.” Ira Tucker Jr., the son of the legendary gospel singer Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds, put it simply: “She was a rock star.”

rosetta3More than just popular, Tharpe was also groundbreaking, profoundly impacting American music history by pioneering the guitar technique that would eventually evolve into the rock and roll style played by Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Eric Clapton. However, despite her great popularity and influence on music history, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was first and foremost a gospel musician who shared her spirituality with all those who listened to her music. Her epitaph reads, “She would sing until you cried and then she would sing until you danced for joy. She helped to keep the church alive and the saints rejoicing.”


Thanks to


Remembering Natalie

American singer-songwriter Natalie Cole, daughter of mid-century crooner Nat King Cole, is best known for her Grammy Award-winning album ‘Inseparable.’

“I never got to make the transition from little girl to young woman … and that really screws you up.”

—Natalie Cole

Natalie Maria Cole was born on February 6, 1950, to vocal legend Nat King Cole and jazz singer Maria Cole in Los Angeles, California. Growing up with talented and renowned parents, Cole was raised in an environment that nurtured her natural musical ability. At the age of 6, she recorded “I’m Good Will, Your Christmas Spirit”

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREwith her father, and by age 11, the young songstress had begun performing in the community.

Natalie Cole’s world suddenly changed when she was 15 years old: In February 1965, her father died of cancer. The tragedy put a strain on Cole’s relationship with her mother. Later that same year, her mother moved the family to Massachusetts, where Natalie attended Northfield Mount Hermon High School.

Although a career in music would be an obvious choice for Cole, she set her sights on something different: Following high school, she enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she majored in child psychology. She briefly transferred to the University of Southern California, where she pledged the Upsilon Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her time at USC was short-lived, however, as she soon transferred back to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1972.

Cole, who had begun performing again over a summer break in Amherst, at a venue called “The Pub,” met the writing and producing team of Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy in 1975. The duo helped Cole land a deal with Capitol Records and, later that year, create the album Inseparable. With hit songs such as “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” the album exploded onto the music scene, earning the young starlet her first two Grammy Awards—for best new artist and best female R&B performance. Cole’s career took flight, and throughout the 1970s, she turned out four gold and two platinum records. Her third—and first platinum—album, Unpredictable (1977), donned yet another No. 1 R&B hit: “I’ve Got Love on My Mind.”

In 1976—not long after Inseparable was released—Cole married producer Marvin Yancy. An ordained Baptist minister, Yancy reintroduced religion to Cole, who became a devout Baptist during their union. The couple welcomed their son, Robert Adam Yancy, into the world in 1977, before divorcing in 1980.

In 1979, Cole was awarded her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, both signifying and solidifying her prowess as a performer.

Cole hit a lull in her career in the early 1980s due to her struggle with drug addiction, subsequently parting ways with Capitol Records. She began recording again after a stint in rehab in 1983, and was back on the charts with a megahit by the mid-’80s: “Pink Cadillac.”

In 1991, Cole released the career-defining album for which she is best known, Unforgettable… with Love. Her debut album with Elektra Records, Unforgettable pays tribute to her father, featuring many beautiful renditions of standards previously recorded by Nat King Cole. The album’s breakout single, “Unforgettable,” features a track dubbed over a previous Nat King Cole recording, as to create the sound of a father-daughter duet. The album sold more than 7 million copies and garnered several honors, including the coveted Grammy for album of the year.

Cole remarried in 1989, to record producer Andre Fisher. The couple divorced in 1995. She wed her third husband, Bishop Kenneth Dupree, in 2001. The marriage was short-lived, however, ending in 2005.

The ’90s saw Cole release many other popular albums, including Snowfall on the Sahara and The Magic of Christmas (both released in 1999), an album of holiday standards recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. Cole also launched her acting career before the end of the decade, appearing on television series of the time.


The death of her father greatly affected Natalie Cole, which was obvious through her songwriting and tributes. In her 2000 autobiography, Angel on my Shoulder, Cole exposed her depression and heavy drug use throughout her career. She began using recreational drugs while attending college in Amherst. Cole’s addiction became so prominent in her life that on more than one occasion it nearly killed her. She overcame her addiction after checking into rehab in 1983.

In 2001, Cole starred as herself in Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story, a TV-movie adaptation of her 2000 autobiography, Angel on my Shoulder. The book has been described as an exposé of the private struggle that accompanied Cole’s rise to fame. Also in 2000, Elektra released Natalie Cole: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, an album highlighting the singer’s career.

Cole’s 2008 release, Still Unforgettable, was well-received, winning the singer yet another Grammy, this time for best traditional pop vocal album.

In 2008, Cole was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a disease of the liver.  She received a kidney transplant in 2009 at USC.

Natalie Cole died from congestive heart failure on December 31, 2015 in Los Angeles. She was 65.  She leaves behind a legacy as one of the most celebrated and iconic women in R&B.  She is survived by her son, Robert Adam Yancy.


Submitted by Lucy Yandra, an avid music buff, Natalie Cole fan and employee of yamaha audio.  Lucy is a mom who also plays guitar and sings.


Thank you for your submission. – Women Move the Soul


Honoring Ella Jenkins

Children are her favorite people. Ella Jenkins sees them as genuine, down to earth people who should be listened to and recognized as having much to offer.  Fellow music educator Patricia Sheehan Campbell lauds her as “a pioneer in her early and continuing realization that children have something to sing about, that the essence of who they are may be expressed through song, and that much of what they need to know of their language, heritage, and current cultural concepts may be communicated to them through song.”

Through her songs, she hopes to develop greater intercultural understanding and rhythmic-consciousness, and to help people discover the joy of singing and communicating through active participation in songs.

Jenkins’ repertoire includes nursery rhymes, holiday songs, bilingual songs, African-American folk songs, international songs, rhythmic chants, and original songs. Drawing from cultures all over the world, she sings in many languages, exposing her audiences to diverse cultures and promoting greater cultural awareness.

Through call and response singing, Jenkins promotes group participation.  This began in Africa. Call-and-response singing involves a leader or leaders singing a phrase and the participants responding with another phrase.  Her goal was to break barriers between audience and performer, and turns everyone into a performer. By encouraging active participation, she promotes the development of a warm group feeling, cooperation among the participants, greater attentiveness, an enjoyment of singing, and a desire to sing. She also encourages children to lead songs, make up their own variations of songs, and experiment with fun and silly sounds. This allows children to think independently, develop leadership skills, and improvise, resulting in increased self-confidence.

In helping children discover music and participate in its creation, Jenkins provides them with a new tool of communication that they can use and enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Ella Jenkins, “The First Lady of Children’s Music, has received numerous awards during her lifetime.  In September of 2015, a park was named in her honor.  Ella Jenkins Park is one of her these many awards that have been bestowed upon her.

To the audience’s delight, at the dedication ceremony, she performed performed “Jambo”  and  “Did You Feed My Cow.”

Music is everything.  If you are going to listen to music, you should listen with the best equipment so that you can hear very sound in great detail.  When you use cheap speakers and cheap earbuds, you are missing out on a lot.  The  eon515xt is an excellent choice.

Congratulations again to Ms. Ella Jenkins and thank you so much for the hundreds of songs that you created and brightened children’s lives with over the decades!





Never Too Old to Learn!

In her fifties, Tomaca Govan is learning how to play the guitar.   I never wanted to be a guitar “rock star;” that’s not my goal, but I’ve always sung.  And the guitar has helped to change my ear.  It has opened music up a whole new dimension because I am hearing new sounds, new tones and new vibrations.  And vibrations because the guitar vibrates and my body vibrates with it.  It’s so cool.  I understand more deeply how music is medicine. Because everything vibrates – down to the cells and molecules in our bodies.  It we have good “vibes,” we have good health!  When our vibes are off, we’re not well.


I strongly suggest that anyone that ever wanted to learn how to do something new, do it!  What are you waiting for?  Circumstances may never be ideal.  If it’s in your heart to do, jump on it!


Who knows?  One of these days I just might need  show lighting by Chauvet for a really big gig! Haha!  You never know what can happen when you develop talents and skills.


An interview with Kalimba Recording Artist Paula Atherton

The music business “ain’t” necessarily easy for women.  But, if you persevere and stay true to the course your heart has for you, you can meet with success.  Paula Atherton is a jazz woman who has done just that.  We appreciate her taking time from her busy touring, writing and recording life to answer just a few questions for us.


“My philosophy as a woman and as a musician is to always do my best and to enjoy what I do – process and all – every day.”






You wanted a piano when you were a little girl but your parents couldn’t afford it, so you ended up studying flute when you got to school.  Did it take the place of the feeling that you wanted to learn piano?

I was just happy to get an instrument!

 Did the piano ever come to play in your life?
Yes I often use piano to write.

 You also play sax, flute,  and sing.  Did you ever pursue or feel the need for vocal coaching?  Why or why not?

I play alto, soprano and sometimes bari sax (mostly for recordings), flute and I sing.  Voice was my first instrument.  I did study voice and vocal improvising.

 Do you play around with other instruments, such as the guitar or drums, or do you stick to those instruments that you chose (or that chose you!).

I stick to what I play, I have my hands full with that!

You tour and travel quite a bit.  Do you have a steady band that travels with you or do you use musicians at the locations that you go to?

I mostly use musicians that are local to the area, but sometimes get to bring my band.

 In regards to that, what would be your preference – a regular steady group of musicians or others that you pick up at the gig?  Does it matter?

I prefer to use my band because they know my music so well, however, I’ve worked with some great musicians on the road, and that’s been great too.

 What is your favorite venue and why?

I’d have to say that Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach, CA is one of my favorite venues!

Does the audience differ based on where you go and do they come specifically to see you or does some of the audience happen to be there?

If it’s a club, I would say they’re coming to see me.  If it’s a festival, there will be people there to see the other acts on that festival also. If there is a radio station in the area that plays my music, I usually will have more of an audience in that area.


Often fans don’t understand the process that’s involved with creating music from the writing of the music to the lyrics to the musicians that record all of the instruments to the music mastering to the creation of the actual physical cd — the completion of the project.  One of your cds took you four years to complete.  Why did it take that long?

The recording studio we have is open to the public, and it was very busy, We were recording in between clients.  Then it took a little while to find a home for the recording;  we’re talking   about “Groove with Me” here.

My new CD will be coming out early 2015; the 1st single releases January 19th, and CD release February 17th on Kalimba music, owned by Maurice White from Earth, Wind and Fire.
For more information, visit

Malina Moye – Lady Guitar Rocker

Flipping a Fender Stratocaster upside-down, acclaimed singer/songwriter/lefty guitarist Malina Moye fills a void in the entertainment industry. Described as a modern day renaissance woman, she’s a quadruple threat, carving out her own lane in today’s music scene as one of the few artists in history able to straddle both Rock and Soul genres. Moye’s musical narrative boasts an impressive resume that includes making history as the first African-American woman to play the National Anthem on guitar at a professional sporting event, all the way to performing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tribute concert for music pioneer Chuck Berry. And recently, Malina was praised by Jet Magazine as “the highlight of the evening” after she headlined the largest peace concert on the west coast with Chaka Khan honoring the legendary humanitarian Stevie Wonder.

malinamoyeAs a guitarist, maybe she uses the boss rc-3 too!
With an electrifying stage show, Malina delivers an intoxicating fusion of funk, and Rock. Her critically acclaimed LP “Diamonds & Guitars” reached number 35 on and iTunes respectively and a number 50 slot on the Billboard album charts, showcasing an eclectic pallet of music while preserving its mainstream appeal. Abroad and stateside, Moye’s Diamond & Guitars tour served her as an opening act with Robin Thicke, and legendary rock group Journey.

A pioneer among the new generation of lead guitarists, Malina is the first left-handed female player to be included on the legendary Fender Guitars’ impressive roster of endorsees and to also join the critically acclaimed 2012 Experience Hendrix tour. Furthermore, the songstress was featured in the UK documentary “Stratmaster: The Greatest Guitar Story Ever Told,” and Guitar World Magazine dubbed Malina the “female Jimi Hendrix” and “one of the top 10 female guitarists to know.” UK’s Blues and Soul Magazine touted Malina as having “…all the ingredients to shake the modern soul room.”

In addition to being on Sony’s writing team, Moye independently released her first R&B single “Girlfriend” through her WCE Records to great reviews and a number 43 slot on the R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard chart. Then Malina followed-up with her second single “Alone,” which remained on the charts for 32 consecutive weeks. “Alone” peaked at no 9 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts and at number 27 on the hot 100. Rolling stone, Billboard Magazine and some of music’s hottest names have raved that Malina is “a ground-breaking artist who makes indelible impression.”

Malina’s humanitarian efforts include serving as ambassador for HRH Prince Charles’ Prince’s Trust for which she donated her single “Hustler’s Blues” to the Wilberforce 200 compilation CD. The record was one of the fastest selling soul CD’s on iTunes UK with all proceeds going to the Trust and UNICEF.

Cover girl Malina Moye continues to build a brand name globally, appearing in campaigns like Victoria Secret’s “Love Rocks” and shoe chain Steve Madden’s Music amongst other retail powerhouses.

– See more at:

Yes – You Can – The Bangles

These ladies never gave up:


Rock historians view the Bangles as one of the greatest all-female bands, lauded for their inventive incorporation of ’60s folk rock, sunny SoCal harmonies and Beatles/Byrds/Beach Boys/Big Star godhead into a sound all its own. Theirs is truly a rags-to-riches story, from the band’s beginnings in L.A.’s Paisley Underground scene through their reign as chart-topping, record-breaking, smart-pop princesses of the ’80s, through their 1989 breakup, 1999 reunion, and current position as Living Legends – rocking, recording, and touring for a whole new generation of fans. As the band themselves put it: “If you can survive success, you can survive anything.


Submitted by Angine Carter, who is a practicing musician and artist who works for

We hope soon to post an interview with Angine to show her true “Yes I can” attitude!  She wants to wait until her first CD is finished.  Go Angine!  We’re with you!   – WMTS

Detroit Has Kimmie Horne

If you are old enough or learned enough about music, you know the name Lena Horne.  Kimmie is directly related to her and was fully inspired by the queen, wanting so badly to follow in her footsteps.    Kimmie Horn is a wonderful vocalist, entertainer and business woman who manages her music career and created “The Kimmie Horne Caramel Corn” company which is distributed internationally. 



Kimmie, so music runs in your family.  Tell us a little about the history.Kimmie HorneSN

I am really proud of my families’ musical history.  I am very fortunate to have been around music throughout my whole life.  The Movie Star Lena Horne was a family member and frequently came to our family reunions.  I wanted to be like her so badly.  My uncle Cleveland Horne was a member of Motown’s very popular singing groups, “The Fantastic Four.”  Their most popular song was “The Whole World is a Stage.  He spoke to me constantly about getting into the music business and introduced me to many of the Motown greats.  I’ve met Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Duke Fakir of the Four Tops and many more. The Legendary Jazz vocalist Betty Carter came out to many of my shows.  She was very encouraging by telling me that I had a unique voice and I reminded her of herself when she first started singing.  She was a good friend with my uncle Cleveland and loved my voice and was a big fan and motivator.  I sang often with my uncle and I loved my family “get-togethers, as my father was a singer and played drums, my brother Tony Horne sings with my band and is very talented.  I am producing a CD on him right now that should be out by August 2014.  With all of that, I was hooked on different genre’s of music, Jazz, Pop and R&B… singing and performing, is what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

What got you started singing and where did you start?

Once again, my Uncle Cleveland was instrumental in me getting into the music business.  As I stated, I come from a musical family.  I also grew up in a city that was a huge part of the music industry around the world.  One of my first experiences performing was going to Japan, for the first time with Anita Baker’s first band Quazar (formerly Chapter Eight) as the lead singer.  I did background vocals for Grammy Winner, Earl Klugh’s CD, “Soda Fountain Shuffle.”  I performed with two of Stevie Wonder’s band members and it just reinforced my interest and dedication to make music my career.  I was invited into the recording studio by Motown’s Grammy Winner and  “Hall of Fame” producer and songwriter, Henry “Hank” Crosby, who took me “under his wing” and taught me much about music and the music business.


Have you had formal training?  If so, what was that like?

I had very little formal training… However, I took Jazz classes at Marygrove College in Detroit.  I had the unique experience of training under Dr. Teddy Harris, a pianist and an arranger at Motown.  Dr. “Beans” Bowles, of Motown, he was the Manager of the The Temptations, and was my mentor. He gave me private lessons for many years.  Just as important, Jazz Legend Betty Carter and I had sessions where she was more encouraging that anything else. I was a regular performer at a supper club in Detroit, and she would tell me to “make the songs my own,” you have such a bright future in this business if you stick with it.


As vocalists and artists, we strive all the time to get better and to improve.  What were some of the things you did to help you accomplish that?
I wanted to perform everywhere.  I went, alone to many places, intense listening, sitting in, refining my sound.  It’s a work in progress and something I’ve made a commitment to.  I’ve always tried to challenge myself with different kinds of genres and even musicians. Whether it’s learning to sing in a foreign language or even doing some acting. You always have to continue to grow.


Do you play any instruments?  Why or why not?

Well, I can play “some” piano and drums. I must confess, not as well as I’d like to, but I’m still a work in progress.


As a woman who headlines her own shows, what are some of the obstacles that you face? 

Promoters can be challenging. Musicians can be challenging and  Festival Organizers can be challenging.  However, the more you prove yourself, the easier the relationships become.  This is a relationship oriented business and I think that it can be difficult for a woman to build long lasting relationships.  I’ve had the same discussions with many of the other females in this business.


Kimmie-aboutWhat is the day job like and how do you use it to improve or develop your artistic skills?  Do the two relate at all?

The two definitely relate to one another.  From morning work outs, booking performance dates, rehearsals, recordings and constantly creating new marketing concepts, coupled with personal practice times and performing live.  Selling and distributing my CD’s and distributing other products, such as Kimmie Horne Carmel Corn, The Worlds Jazziest Treat, it is a 24/7 endeavor.


Tell us about your Caramel Corn venture. How did that come about and how are things going with it?

The Kimmie Horne Caramel Corn sales are coming along quite well.  I got distribution channels in many places.  Japan of course and other locations such as Starbucks, area hotels and corporations.


Where can people buy your music?

My website,, at my shows, all throughout Japan and social media distribution, as: ITunes, etc.


You’re regarded as being international.  What kinds of things have you done overseas?

I’ve been developing audiences all over the World.  I represented the United States in the Legends of Jazz in Jamaica, with Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal and Andy Hamilton.  I’ve performed in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia.  I tour regularly in North America, which includes Amherstburgh, Windsor, London, Toronto and Montreal, Canada.  I’ve been to parts of South America including Mexico.  I’ve been to Europe and certainly, everywhere in the United States.  I perform in Las Vegas on a regular basis and I am looking forward to doing Cruise Ships for the first time this year!  But my mainstay overseas would be Japan. I go there every year and just celebrated my 20th year anniversary of traveling and performing in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya and Kyoto.  I have a developed a huge Japanese fan base.  It sincerely has become, my home away from home.


Detroit – the media tells us that the City is dead.  Is it? What’s happening there for artist such as yourself?

Detroit is far from dead musically. Some of the best artists in the business today either live or got their start in Detroit.  Earl Klugh, The Winans, Kem, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Eminem, and Kid Rock to name a few. I don’t have to tell you about all of the legendary Motown artists who still call Detroit home. On any given night, you can go to a major concert, a casino or a club and hear and see the next Anita Baker or Smokey Robinson.  Music is in our DNA in Detroit.  Detroit is far, far from being dead… after all, Detroit has Kimmie Horne.


The question that we always like to ask is at age 60 or 55, what will you have done? 

Hopefully, I’ll still be able to perform and sing, and audiences will still want to hear me. Other than that, good health.


Releasing Fear Saved Me – Says Singer & Musician Kenya McGuire

We find our ladies everywhere on the internet – worldwide.  We found Kenya (McGuire Johnson) on facebook. Happened in bounce in and there she was in the stream.  We looked, we listened and realized that this is real talent.  The inspiration that Kenya gives us, besides her music, talent and her lovely voice is that fact that she faced her fears and pursued her dream of doing music full-time.  She one of our “sheroes.”  Take a read and a listen and enjoy!



Started singing at the age of 8,” according to your bio.  What made you decide to sing and what did you do to get started? 


As a child, I was the absolute “pretender”  – meaning I often pretended I was an actress or teacher and of course, a singer.  My father is a musician (drummer/percussionist) but never pursued it professionally.  Music was always encouraged in my household and I simply wanted to be a part of what I was already experiencing as a listener.  As a 3rd grader, I began singing in my elementary school plays and joined band by playing the flute.  As an adult, I stopped performing after college and didn’t resume until my late 30’s. To get “re-started” I enrolled in a community college music theory course and from there, things simply began to take off musically.


You also play piano.  Do you play during your gigs and for your recordings? 


When I first got back into performing as an adult, I played the piano for gigs all of the time because I didn’t have a band and was just beginning to meet musicians.  I played the keyboard for my first demo and recordings (scratch versions), but once I began working with a producer, I no longer played on recordings, with the exception of my first released EP/CD “Starting Over” where I played on 2 songs (“Who’s Crying Now” and an original song titled “Rest”).


When did you start playing piano and how long do you think it took before you became what you feel is proficient?


I began tinkering on the piano playing by ear when I was 8 years old.  I officially began piano lessons when I was 12.  I only took lessons for about 2 years and wish I had stayed with it longer formally because I don’t feel as “proficient” as I would like.  Now, I mostly use the piano for writing purposes, but occasionally play during a gig to simply let the audience hear me in a different perspective.


You have a nice way of phrasing when you sing and all the scatting that you do is nice.  How did you develop your vocal style?  Who were your major influences?


I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and since I also played an instrument, I always hear various types of “sounds” and harmonies in my mind.  I think that has greatly helped me develop my vocal style.  I love dynamics- the quiet points that are still really intense are so special to me and I want my voice to be able to emulate that.  Some major influences are Stevie Wonder, Lisa Fischer, Lalah Hathaway, Dianne Reeves, Diane Schuur, and Gretchen Parlato to name a very few!


You’ve recently made the leap to be a full-time musician.  It is interesting in that you first obtained a master of arts degree in counseling and student development and became an administrator and educator.  You were a working person who flipped the script.  What brought you to that decision?


I was extremely restless in my mid-30’s.  I think trying to work full time, raise children, being a wife and not attending to my personal passions left me feeling empty.  While I truly enjoyed working in higher education with students, I knew that not doing music was leaving me depressed and I was feeling “cloudy,” almost numb.  I started counseling trying to find the perfect “remedy” to getting to happy and it was through counseling and a very significant spiritual retreat that ultimately lead me to take the leap of faith and follow my passion.  Releasing fear saved me…


You’re married and a mom.  Obviously one could not make such a change without the approval of their spouse, but what was it about your dream/career change that made your husband support it?


My husband is an EXTREMELY patient person!  I have an artist’s soul; therefore, it is not uncommon for me to be a bit all over the place (smile).  But, I believe once he saw me actually performing and nurturing my craft as a musician, he not only saw, but felt my energy shift.  He knew I was going through a very difficult period in life prior to returning to music and made it clear that he would support whatever would allow me to feel like my best me.


How are things going now that you’ve become a full-time artist?


I am in complete awe of how wonderful things are going as a full-time artist.  I never imagined half of the opportunities I’ve received as a musician.  I am performing, recording, and simply developing as an artist.  I want to underline that it was a process to me becoming a full-time artist.  I didn’t simply quit my full time job one day and declare full-time artist status!  Instead, I slowly lessened my professional career as an educator and physical therapist.  I kept my spiritual and prayer life nurtured and always told myself, I will know when its time to do music full time.  As things became more difficult to juggle within my educational profession, I would lessen my hours.  I also had on-going discussions with my husband regarding our budget/expenses and of course, saved money along the way to prepare accordingly.


Tell us what your typical day is like?


My typical day involves me waking up at 6 am and reading a Daily Word message and scripture to simply put my mind in the right space.  I then get my kids ready for school (or camp as we start summer) including preparing breakfast, lunch, etc.  Once they are out of the house I exercise 45mins-1hr at least 4-5 times/week and then eat breakfast.  After I take care of me, I usually hop on the computer and face the world of social media as well as respond to emails and music business. Depending on my performance schedule I will then do rehearsals as necessary. I am trying to incorporate more time spent on practicing vocal technique.  I just completed recording a new LP/CD, so for the past several months I’ve also done a ton of writing and traveling for studio recordings.  Now that the project is complete, I am in the height of music business mode to prepare for radio airplay, marketing, promo, music releases, etc. I try to get as much music business done during the day so that I am ready for when my kids come home from school/camp.  Once they are home, mommy mode is in full effect including homework, after school activities, dinner, etc.  I wind the evening down with my husband and occasional social media moments (ugh!). If I have gigs, of course, my evenings are completely different and I have assistance with managing my mom duties. When not performing, I try very hard to be in bed between 10 and 11pm.


What is your goal as a singer, musician and artist? 


My ultimate goal is to have my music heard!  I simply want audiences nationally and internationally to hear music from my perspective- messages of love, self, spirit…all of those things that we carry in this human journey.  If I can provide a new thought or help someone as they push through or towards something by simply listening to my music or if I simply provide a good tune to whistle to, I want to be able to share that experience with others.  Also, as an artist, I desire to help and support other artists so that their gifts are shared as well.


Just curious – what is the ipad on your microphone stand for during your performances?


I love my iPad stand!  This allows me to have my set list, some lyrics (if necessary) and any other special notes right at my finger tips during a performance.  I mostly use my iPad for longer gigs where I have multiple sets and I’m singing a variety of covers.  Its basically my music stand.


Knowing that there are other singers who sit while they perform, and with young people who sing – it’s all about “shakin’ your booty while you sing” – tell us why you sit while singing during some of your performances?


Again, music for me is about experiencing a special moment.  When I play in small intimate venues, I sit so that I can relate more to the audience.  Its about the vocals and the music.  I have found that my style is most appealing when my movements are subtle and I’m able to fully get into vocalization.  However, bigger venues require more movement due to the size of the crowd.  Still, even in those cases I try to make the music experience be about just that…the music!


Describe your future as you would like to see it unfold.


I am embarking on another level within my musical career.  I am now working with more musicians (including producers) who have been professional musicians for much longer than myself and are amazing mentors.  I see my listening audience increasing and really hope to perform more nationally and internationally.


You’ve rearranged a number of cover tunes (and nicely so!).  But, why do that instead of just writing your own songs? 


My EP “Jazz Made Rhythm” which is all cover songs,  was almost a fluke.  Let me explain…during my live performances prior to recording Jazz Made Rhythm, I would perform rearranged covers and after my gigs, many people would ask for recorded versions of the cover  re-arrangements and I had nothing to offer. So, as a way to have the recordings available at gigs, I decided to do a recording. We literally finished the project in less than a month.  I had no idea it would be so well received! Writing original music is my passion; therefore, my forthcoming full length CD (LP) includes all original songs with the exception of one song. I hope to always include a cover here and there because I love to rearrange music to fit my style.  But, original music is what sets an artist apart from the masses.



Do you ask anything of the music that you create and perform?


I simply want to make music vibrant, alive and an experience.  I try my best to create and perform music in a way that appeals to a person’s emotions and personal experiences.


What would you like people to come away with after listening to your music and/or watching you perform?


I want people to go on a musical journey.  I want them to be able to relate to the lyrics, but also experience the lyrics and the sounds.  Music is an incredible art form that appeals to so many senses.  If I can simply provide a special moment for the listener, one where they feel as though they matter and they feel alive, I’ve done my job as an artist!


Links for Kenya:

Success in Love, Music & Business – Kim Wright

A dual interview with husband and wife team – Daysahead.

“Daysahead revives the spirit of the golden era of bands from the 70′s & 80′s criss-crossing rock, jazz, and soul into a sound that’s both contemporary and timeless….an air-tight band and a bewitching front woman. Daysahead gets straight-ahead funky.” (Michael Heyliger, RhythmFlow)

Daysahead was founded by husband and wife duo guitarist/producer/songwriter Steve Wright (Richmond, VA) & vocalist/lyricist/songwriter Kim Wright (Baton Rouge, LA) in 2003. Steve & Kim’s unique approach to songwriting, arranging, and powerful performances has attracted a diverse and loyal following of fans from around the world.


You and Steve met in 2003. What came first – the music or the love? If it was love, how did the two of you decide to work on music together? If it was music first, it would make sense that love naturally followed…

Kim: The music came first. We were musicians in a back-up band for an artist who was based out of L.A. but wanted to put an east coast band together based in Atlanta. I was hired to sing Soprano (I’m a natural Alto), and Steve was hired as her lead guitarist. During rehearsals Steve says he was drawn to my voice and tonal quality (here’s where I start blushing). One day after rehearsal he asked if I wanted to get together to write and demo some songs to sell. I was totally down! I thought that Steve was (and of course still is) a great musician with a beautiful tone, is very melodic, and just technically diverse and amazing. The first song we wrote together was “You Move Me”…..after the form, melody, and some of the lyrics were written we both looked at each other and were like this is too good to give away. Steve then asked if I wanted to start a band together! I gave an emphatic “YES.” I was really looking for a writing partner who got me and wanted an active music career as much as I did…the piece of heaven would’ve been for this magic man and I to be romantically involved as well. In walks Mr. Wright. ;-) The lyrics morphed from my very thoughts of wanting a sincere love and active music career. We went on our first date shortly after that session….and got married at a lovely B&B in the North Georgia Mountains in 2011.

Steve: For me it’s hard to say which came first. I think that our love and music both came together pretty fast. On that gig, I did think that Kim’s voice added a warm and really fat sound to the vocal section….with her being a natural alto singing soprano lines which created a strong presence. Her sound was/is awesome, breathy with lots of control. She caught my attention right away. My game was/is not to have game, so we had very natural conversation after rehearsals, and were instantly relaxed with each other during our writing sessions. I was very happy to have found a good woman, and a versatile singer and writing partner whom I could share my life and the music biz with.



Is it challenging to work together, live together, love together? Or is the combination of those things that make it easy?

Steve: Yes, but the pros outweigh the cons. It just takes emotionally mature and stable people to make it work. We take a team approach to the music biz. I feel for solo artists. I wouldn’t want to do this alone.

Kim: From the first time we met and started writing together and having a naturally blossoming relationship, I can’t imagine our lives and career happening any other way. Our friendship, marriage, and shared career crossover in the right ways.


Both of you are trained/educated musicians. How did each of you individually come into music? Kim, what made you sing and Steve, why’d you pick up that guitar?

Kim: Well, my mom is a singer, organist and pianist. She’s been a Music Director (as a side gig) for church choirs all of my life….usually 2 or 3 churches at a time. And she’s still working it. So, it’s safe to say that she was/is my biggest musical influence. I remember we used to sing gospel and r&b music around the house all of the time, my brother even joined in singing, while mama played her B3 organ or acoustic piano. My first solo was at age 5 during a church service….I sang “If You Got Jesus, You Don’t Need Nobody Else”! Wow, I really do remember that moment. I remember the feeling of that. Standing in front of a group of people boldly singing and seeing their smiles and hearing yells of agreement….I was hooked. My appreciation for jazz and rock music came in my early 20s.

Steve: I picked up the guitar when I was about 11 years old….around the mid-eighties. My Uncle David, who played guitar in bands when he was a teenager, taught me my first song. It was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones! I was hooked on guitar from that point on. Me and all of my little friends loved heavy metal, punk rock, thrash music….anything out of the mainstream! The common thread between those genres is that they’re all guitar-driven. I didn’t get into jazz, funk, and r&b until my late teens and early 20’s.

Both of you perform internationally. Do you sometimes get to work with the same groups or is it usually different groups that each of you are performing with?

Kim: We’ve only worked with the same artist once, that was when we first met. Since then, from time-to-time we’ve worked with separate artists if there’s a need for a specific instrumentation line-up. Fortunately, Steve & I have had more opportunities where we perform internationally under our own band’s name.


For the aspiring artists/musicians out there, how does one go about obtaining international work? Is it all based on who you know or should one connect with certain types of agencies?

Steve: Good question. There’s definitely no one way to do any of this. I’d say just be resourceful, and I think it’s very important to not put your hopes into the hands of others. YOU have to make it happen….so go out and take it!

Kim: I wholeheartedly agree with that. When someone told me early on that this is a “who-you-know” business and that relationships are key, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of that. It would be a nice dream realized to have a blueprint on how to navigate this business. Much like how you have a curriculum in college, you graduate, you search for a job (ideally in your field), you interview, you get the job, you go on with your life. Navigating the music business can be nutty, but knowing that you have control over your livelihood is priceless. You are, essentially, your own manager and/or team you’ve been waiting for. When others see you DO, they’ll join your bandwagon because you’re doing for yourself. Folks like to see others pursue their dreams/destiny. It takes courage, organization, persistence and resilience. Thoughts become….Destiny. If you think you can, so shall it be.

How does it feel to go from a large stage with an international artist and then do a small intimate duo performance at say a coffee house? Does it really matter where you do your music, or is it just about doing the music?

Steve: I like both, however, they are completely different. Playing in a back-up role, no matter who the artist is or the situation is never as good as playing your own gig. Coffee houses can have their fond moments, when people are actually listening and engaged. And, there are moments when you just don’t care if anyone is listening and you perform in the moment of your sound and your bandmate’s sound. You make music together. Big stage, corner of a room…..making the music has become my source of inspiration.


Kim: There’s a quote by Leonard Bernstein (American composer/conductor/pianist/lecturer) that says “In the olden days, everybody sang. You were expected to sing as well as talk. It was the mark of a cultured man to sing, to KNOW Music”. Steve & I, along with many other American Musicians optimistically await for this to be the norm again in our country. Culture of the Arts have to be introduced, valued and shared to individuals and groups to create this shift towards appreciation for and generosity of the arts. Coffee House to the Big Stage can become a simple matter of physicality if spiritually we’re all operating in that one reality. While we shift collectively, I have affirmed to be in the moment of music as well.


Are the two of you full-time musicians? Are you supported completely by your art?

Steve: Yes we’re both full-time musicians. We also teach to supplement between gigs/tours.


AMH Music Studios – what does AMH stand for?

Kim: A.M.H. Music Studios stands for “At My House” Music Studios! It’s a very accurate description of how we get down at home. Building our own home studio was one of the more economically sound decisions we’ve made. Having a studio handy is necessary for spur of the moment writing sessions and recordings, and it’s great training to perform “on the mic” consistently. I established A.M.H. Music Studios in 2006 when I taught my first student at the house and when we bought our first pro studio gear. We laugh, but are proud to be able to answer folks when asked where did we record our music because they think the music is awesome…very casually we say “Oh, at my house” studios! ;-)

Steve: Having our home studio also affords us the chance to tweak our songs as often as we’d like. We have, however, disciplined ourselves to not re-do a take to death! It’s so tempting to get that one part just right, to seek perfection. But, in doing so you can lose the raw sound or feel of the song. We do enjoy the freedom and accessibility to record whenever the ideas come. daysahead4


What services do you offer? Who teaches what?

Kim: We offer individual and group lessons for beginner to advanced students, from ages 6 to adults. We also conduct clinics and workshops for private and community events, schools, and festivals. Our teaching focus is on theory & technique, melodic and harmonic application, ear training, rhythm and phrasing, composition and songwriting, and stage presence & performance.

I teach vocal lessons (all levels) and piano lessons (beginners to intermediate). Steve teaches guitar lessons (all levels).


Where is your studio located and if someone wanted to sign up for lessons, how do they contact you guys?

Steve: Our studio is located in metro Atlanta. To ask about and to sign up for lessons potential students and/or parents can contact us at:


To the husband and wife team – do you have children? If so, how does that impact the work and music schedule? And, if not, will there be and what plans will you make to be able to continue the music? Not, that music stops if there’s children around, but certainly some things may have to be adjusted.


Steve: Not yet. Yes, we plan on having children. They shouldn’t change what we do much…beyond the actual pregnancy and slowing down on the performances during that time. And plus, Grandma is right around the corner. ;-)

Kim: We’re pretty excited about having our first child, when it happens. And yep, both sets of grandparents eagerly await their turn to babysit whenever we need them. We’re into the idea of home schooling, and exposing our child(ren) to a life of a creative early on. It’ll be fun to share our love for music and pass that on to our own kid(s).


When the two of you are composing new music, how does it happen? Who does what?

Steve: Our process varies some from song to song. I write the majority of the music’s structure and melodies, framework, and chords. Kim writes the majority of the lyrics and also melodic ideas and some structure. The songs typically don’t end up how either of us start out or introduce to the other. Sometimes a whole song just comes and other times we piece together ideas from all over the place (i.e. from older material, unused material, some new inspiration that happened earlier in the day, etc.). We definitely believe that your creativity is influenced by your daily life.


How did you come up with your band’s name: Daysahead?

Steve: I always wanted to write music with staying power. Music that will be around in the days ahead……hence the name.


Daysahead Music set up a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo to help with the costs of recording and touring across the U.S. How did it go? How do you think it could have gone better? And, what’s the next step if you don’t get all the funds you are hoping for?


Kim: Our Indiegogo Campaign faired well for our first crowdfunding effort. We are very appreciative to our fans who supported financially as well as those who supported with lots of happy thoughts and prayers. Doing the fundraising allowed us to reach even more fans and the funds raised helped us to offset some production costs for our upcoming sophomore cd titled Homebound. We’ve released our first single, “Missing You”, off the cd and are in a marketing/promotion push to build the buzz about it. Fans can download the single via our official website, CDBaby, Amazon, Spotify, and iTunes. Our immediate next step is to secure regional and national dates to hit the road and promote this single, as well as more singles soon to be released, in support of the upcoming release of our full cd Homebound.



Do you guys do your own marketing and promotion, or do you hire that work out?

Kim: As indie artists we wear many hats. Yep, we take care of our marketing and promotion with the occasional help of people who are specialized to do so when it’s in our budget to hire out the services. We do have a loyal super fan, who is a dear friend, Audrey Authur of ADA Creative Communications, Inc. who does PR work and consultation for us.


How successful is your marketing? How do you measure success?

Kim: The power of the web, with all of the social media sites, has helped us get the word out about our brand more efficiently and in a much shorter time than say when we first formed and started marketing and promoting Daysahead. Being organized and understanding how to utilize time management is very important. Our success is measured by how well opportunities align themselves and materialize from our thoughts and actions. When we feel gloom, we get gloomy results. The opposite is certainly true….when we feel upbeat and positive and approach contacting folks in that way, we get positive results.

Steve: Great responses from our fans when they buy our songs and consistently come out to our shows, radio spins online and terrestrial, word-of-mouth booking, talent buyers and venue owners reaching out to us to secure bookings, and recognition from unfamiliar faces when we’re just out about town are also great measures of our success.


What is the joint music goal? Is there an ideal musical situation that the two of you are striving for?

Steve: We’re striving to have a sustainable career as independent artists. To paint a numerical picture of that, that would be medium-sized theater audiences to consistently perform to in any city or area we choose to play.


Thankfully, society has slowly been changing to be more open and accepting of interracial couples. Has being an interracial couple ever been an issue for the two of you in terms of how other people may react? (as an aside – my own family is very diverse – from nieces, cousins, uncles, aunts, and my beautiful daughter-in-law.)

Kim: One of my students, a 16 year-old Italian-American young man, texted me a photo once of a beautiful mixed-race teenage girl that read “this is what 50% of Americans will look like by 2050”. Times are slowly a-changing, but change is happening. ;-) Yeah, it bothered us at one time until we started to realize that fear is taught and exploited for political gain and a false sense of power. The “isms” are created to keep us all separated from each other….fearful of each other and to not view each other as spiritual beings. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, along with both our siblings and friends, have always embraced the two of us as a couple. My mom was slow to come around because she was plagued with fear. Skin pigmentation is just that…..the shade of one’s skin. It doesn’t nor shouldn’t define your character. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be conned into shade boxes and made to fear each other on that basis. Thinking for yourself and understanding the tactics is power.

Steve: I suppose early on in our relationship we were more affected by the ignorance of some people. However, our spiritual growth and education over the past 7 or 8 years has helped us to know that one’s own thoughts and awareness are what’s important. In other words, if you don’t look for something then it’s not there.


da-1Let’s say that the two of you have been married for 50 years and are sitting back and looking over your past. What will you see? What will you have done?

Steve: In 50 years I’ll be 89…..hummmm….I honestly choose to keep my mind where I am today. LOL….don’t really wanna think about being 89. That’s not to say that I don’t think about the future. But, I think living in the moment is the key to happiness and longevity. Hopefully I’ll be able to say, in my latter years, that I gave everything all I had to give.

Kim: Our children will be married and have children of their own, and everyone is healthy and da2happy. Our music legacy will have passed down to our kids and Daysahead will have earned multiple grammy awards and oscars for film scoring. A.M.H. Music Studios will have expanded into a free standing arts building, fully equipped with 3 live rooms and recording studios as well as classrooms for lessons and a concert hall. Steve & I would have built our dream house on our farm, equipped with a green house of organic veggies and herbs. Peaceful. Our rocking porch offers a warm welcome to our guests and neighbors. Life is Peaceful. The level of consciousness worldwide will have increased exponentially. We’ve created a vision board at home detailing these aspirations. ;-)

I believe here would be a good spot to insert more of the promotional information that we would like to share.

Daysahead’s new single “Missing You” is now available for download through CDBaby (, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Emusic, etc.! Please download your copy and be sure to write a review.


Visit them on the web:

Memphis Minnie & the Blues

When you think about the origin of the blues, do you think about an older Black gentleman from the south?  Most people do.  Women were also heavily involved with the blues.

Memphis Minnie was noted by Big Bill Broonzy as being “the best woman blues guitarist he has ever heard.”  She earned the respect of record buying fans and the praise of all the blues artists that she worked with throughout her four decade long career.

Memphis Minnie was born Elizabeth Douglas on June 3, 1897, in Algiers Louisiana and was the oldest of 13 brothers and sisters. Like most things in that era, music was also homemade. In 1907 a blues musician would play in all kinds of places like house parties, barrel houses, work camps, and traveling shows. Influenced by the local string players that performed at these parties, Minnie obtained her first guitar at the age of 11.

In those days women were limited to household service and farm work – exhausting labor.  Memphis Minnie was never interested in this lifestyle. She re-located to Memphis in the early 1920’s and married her first husband Casey Bill Weldon, who played guitar with the popular Memphis Jug Band. Together they both played guitar and sang on Beale Street and surrounding towns in Memphis.

Minnie could hold her own against any of the blues artists of her time. She has inspired many of today’s aspiring guitarists.

In order to be heard above the crowds, Minnie was quick to embrace the latest technologies. She was one of the first blues players to use a National Guitar. In later years guitarists had amplification to help them be heard, but in those days the National guitar was three to five times as loud as any made of wood. This was because the guitar was made of metal, which is what makes it instantly recognizable.

Starting in 1929, Minnie’s recordings exemplify her life, as she moved from the rural South to metropolitan Chicago. After the stock market crash, record companies began to seek out rural guitar based music. Regardless of what was either more cost-effective or what they were promoting at the time, Memphis Minnie made her professional recording debut in 1929.

Minnie and her second husband Joe based themselves in Chicago throughout the early thirties; recording both together and separately. Their marriage and melodic affiliation eventually ended in the mid-thirties. Minnie became more accepted as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter.

In 1939 she married Ernest “Little Son Joe” Lawlars. In the mid fifties music was changing with the fabrication of rock and roll. Major record labels were beginning to pull out of the blues market.

Memphis Minnie’s voice is of an artist who never put up with exploitation, and managed to find happiness while living through tough times. In 1957 Minnie returned to Memphis and retired from the music business. She moved into a nursing home where she lived until her death on August 6th, 1973 at the age of 76.

About the contributor:

Andrea Gibson is a blueswoman, hails from Memphis and uses her gibson les paul standard traditional at guitar center for all of her “blues work.”  She studies all of the historical blues artists and wants to make sure that they are not forgotten and wants people to know where the blues came from.



Women In Music

Women in Music is a dynamic group of individuals in music working together to support, cultivate and recognize the talents of women in our field. Through educational seminars, panels, networking events, showcases, our annual Touchstone Awards, and other gala events, we provide camaraderie and tools for advancement to hundreds of members at all stages of their careers.

Founded in 1985, Women in Music is now in its third decade of service to the music community. Our members are inspired by the resources and opportunities WIM offers. We, in turn, are inspired by their wonderful achievements and contributions across all areas of the music industry.

WIM Mission Statement:
Women In Music is an organization with a mission to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment, and recognition. Our seminars, panels, showcases, achievement awards, and youth initiatives celebrate the female contribution to the music world, and strengthens community ties.

If you need music equipment, cheap hiwatt amplifier at musicians friend could be a girl’s best friend!


Guitar Girl Magazine

While surfing the internet looking for interesting women’s sites, we stumbled upon Guitar Girl  Their mission statement says they are an online community dedicated to encouraging and promoting female guitarists and the fans that love them. With a combination of interviews of women in music, relevant music industry news, fun rock lifestyle finds, insider tips and advice, and special features and events, Guitar Girl Magazine strives to provide content that informs, entertains and engages our readers on a regular basis.

Tara Low is the founder of the publication.   She developed an online music store, Guitar It Up for Girls at, which caters to female musicians (both aspiring and accomplished).  Tara launched her business in 2009 and has created business alliances with major manufacturers of musical instruments and charitable organizations which she supports including Los Angeles Women in Music, Guitars in the Classroom, Girls Rock, Special Angel, A Place Called Home, and various others which she has supported through these partners.

Tara is a member of the Los Angeles Women in Music, the National Association of Music Merchants and The Recording Academy.

Most recently, Tara launched her new venture, Guitar Girl Magazine.   “My goal is to create a community for female musicians where we can band together and help support, promote and empower women in music. Through Guitar Girl Magazine, we will bring you the latest relevant music industry news, fun rock lifestyle finds, insider tips and advice, and special features and events.  We want to provide content that informs, entertains and engages our readers on a regular basis,” says Tara.

Just goes to show you what a little thought and inspiration can evolve into.


Submitted by Sabrina Sterling, who is a musician representing classic gallien mb200 and aspiring mom-to-be who is looking for Mr. Right!




Avery Sunshine – Celebrating the Sun


Avery*Sunshine emerged into our sunshine.

With her thunderous, gospel-bred pipes and heart-to-heart content, the singer-songwriter can’t help spilling the truth in her music. She knows the best route sometimes is the direct one. No detours. So listeners won’t have to “get on her level.” She’s already on theirs. “I want people to get my music. I don’t want them to have to decipher some code in order to understand where I’m coming from,” says Avery. “I always talk about how much I love Joel Osteen-it’s because he explains things in such a way that it’s, not only easy to understand, but also, easy to communicate. When he preaches, I remember the whole sermon and can then go and share that same sermon with someone else. That’s how we REALLY SHINE.”

This candid philosophy fits perfectly in a social-media-driven world that’s forced even the most secretive entertainers to open up. While much of it seems staged (is everyone that perfect?), Avery’s always been frank-the girlfriend and single mother of two who’ll offer not just real, but relevant talk. That breakup? She’s been there. Stressful days? (See: “Today”). Give her self-titled debut a spin (it was released independently in June 2010 and licensed in the UK, Europe and South Africa) and you’ll see. It’s organic. Soulful. Therapeutic. Every Avery album will be.

The word “feel-good” gets thrown around often in music circles. For certain artists, it just works. In describing her own sound, though, Avery quickly catches herself when the cliché term slips out. “It’s feel-good music,” she says, and then pauses. “That’s so trite!”

Or you could call it truth. After all, those feel-good tunes have helped plump her portfolio with accolades including a turn as choral director on the theatrical production of Dream Girls,” featuring Jennifer Holliday. Her videos “All in My Head” and “Ugly” landed heavy rotation on Music Choice, VH1 Soul and Centric. And she’s toured with Ledisi and shared the stage with Kem, Musiq Soulchild, Eric Benet, Rachelle Ferrell, and the legendary B.B. King, among others. “Ugly Part of Me” also graced the Top 15 on the Urban Adult Chart via Media Base.

The Sunshine world has its origins, 9 miles south of Philly, in Chester, Penn., and like many of us, she has her parents to thank for her music fixation. At house-party jams, they’d drop the needle on records from Jimmy Smith to Nina Simone to Miles Davis. Those memories from as young as 5 years old remain lodged in Avery’s brain. “We had a silver stereo, and we had The Whispers 8-track, an eggshell color,” she recalls vividly. “I remember playing As The Beat Goes On in the morning before school and smelling the Thomas English muffins that my mom was toasting for me. I also remember that if the toast was too dark, I wouldn’t eat it.”

From there, young Avery, a quiet loner, added more achievement badges to her uniform-from playing piano at age 7 to songwriting. “My mom said, ‘Look, if I buy that piano, you gon’ practice everyday,’ And she meant just that.”

By 13, Avery had earned a gig as choir director at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for $175/hour. Dreams of being a corporate lawyer turned into faded pictures when she realized music was tugging harder post-college (she was a piano major at Spelman College).

Since then, she’s been putting in work. And the accolades have continued to pour in. In 2010, Avery won Best New Artist at the Reader’s Choice Awards. The following year, JET Magazine named her one of their 5 rising Indie Artists. Flexing her theater and thespian skills, Avery starred in the musical drama, I Dream, directed by Jasmine Guy, in addition to appearing on BBC 2 Live with Jools Holland. Her song “Like This” was featured in the TBS series, Franklin & Bash. And she appears on Will Downing’s latest release, Silver, on the duet “You Were Meant Just For Me.”

With over 200-plus reviews and features, including,,, JET, USA Today, The Washington Post and more, Avery has made her presence known. Expect an encore with her anticipated sophomore project, to be released in 2013. These days, with a divorce behind her and loads of life experience, Avery finds solace within the melodies. Listeners will draw inspiration and strength from her lyrical sermons.

“We really do look at it as a ministry. It’s a simple ministry, though,” says Dana. “On the debut record, there were a few songs that looked at what people might consider touchy or awkward and poked fun so people can say, ‘I can relate to that.’ It helps people connect to a very common, human element.” That’s where the SHINE begins.

Want to be like Avery?  Get a roland rd-700nx at musicians friend and get started!
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“Veriations” of Soul & A Doctorate – Veronique



Tell us about your logo. Not many people will recognize the ankh. Why do you have an ankh at the center? What purpose does it serve you?

My logo was designed to make a statement. The ankh represents life; the creation of life; an inspiration of life. GOD gives me the inspiration that shines through my music. Like the ankh, my music is created to inspire life; to create a love of self and to cultivate a relationship with ones creator.


What was behind the choice of colors you used?

Red and black are power colors. My words are powerful and they truly are inspired. My music is my ministry and before I write and create; I pray and ask GOD to give me the words that I sing. Red represents the power within each of us and the black represents the faith that you need to move forward into the unknown with confidence. I consider my music a guide. Which relates to my answer to the next question.

Why did you decide to take your musical and vocal church training beyond the walls of the church? What was the goal then and is it the same now?

When GOD gives you a gift, the people that need to be fed are not those Christians in the church. The ministry must reach beyond the church walls. I never really thought about a “goal” per say. But if I had to coin it a goal, then my goal would be to let people know that music truly transcends the traditional. My goal is to touch and inspire. Music should feed the soul; whether gospel, soul, house, country or whatever; music transcends the traditional…it’s universal.

veronique2You’ve done some touring. Where have you been and what were those experiences like?

I have performed in the following cities; Detroit, DC, Chicago, Hartford, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, New York, Jacksonville, Miami, St. Louis, Baltimore, Richmond, Boston, Los Angeles, Springfield, Lansing, Nashville, Louisville, Milwaukee, Atlanta and most recently in Phoenix, Arizona. Each experience is different. I have made friends and created new connections in each venue that I have visited. I am always humbled at the love I receive wherever I go. I feed off of the energy of the crowd and I always give 100% whenever I perform. I love it when people give me their honest feedback because when I give, I want what I am giving to be received in the same spirit that it’s given. I want my audience to feel that they are special and a part of what I am doing. So when they participate and are having a great time; my energy level soars and I always leave filled with love and appreciation.


Your initial musical training was with your father in church. What instruments does Dad play? And, Obviously he saw something in you that led him to teach you. What did he see in his young daughter?

People always ask me how long I have been playing. I played my first song (joy to the world) on my toy organ when I was three years old. My family (both sides) is very musical; so my gift is truly a blessing from GOD. When I showed an interest in learning, my father showed me the basics. I took lessons briefly but because my ear is so strong, the challenge was staying on task with the sheet music and not playing what I hear. My father was instrumental in helping me to cultivate my ear. I can listen to most songs and play and sing what I hear. My father played trumpet as a child; he also plays piano, guitar and organ.


Of the two cds that you’ve released thus far, most of the music is dance-driven house music. Will you venture into other styles as you create more? What are are your plans?

Well the second project “Veriations of Soul” is just that; it’s a variation of different types of soul music. There is, of course, house music but there are also soul tunes (Veriations-the title cut and Playground); there is a jazz standard (My Ole Flame) and of course a gospel tribute (U Came).


What are you looking for in music? And, what is music looking for in you? Would you answer that for us?

You know most people look for fame and fortune; that is not my goal (of course I am not going to say no when it comes…lol) however, I look for the connections that music creates among people; regardless of race, color, religion or creed. And my hope is that my music will make me international. I think music expects me to remain true to my artistry; true to my message; true to my style.


Tell us where Veronique is headed, not just musically, but in life.

What most people don’t know is that I hold a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology and I am completing my course work toward my Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA). My career goal is to open my own non-profit that is designed to work with older youth in foster care. I am blessed that I have been able to be successful in my life’s work (human services) as well as walk in my life’s calling (my music ministry). Not very many people can say that.

My new project, “Journey,” is a “soul” project. There is NO HOUSE MUSIC on this one (but don’t worry house fans, there will be house remixes). I am excited about this project because it is a depiction of my personal journey in music and in life. AND I AM SO EXCITED!!!! The first single ” A Part of Life”; will be out in February. Be on the lookout for the video.


Stay in touch with me at and on

Vicki Genfan – Female Guitarist




Every now and then an artist comes along whose music reaches out and touches the soul of all who hear them…virtuoso guitarist, singer and composer Vicki Genfan is among those artists… Drawing from folk, jazz, pop, soul and world music, Vicki is redefining ‘singer/songwriter culture.’ With a mastery of the acoustic guitar that borders on pure alchemy, audiences are mesmerized by the waves of sound Vicki creates with just two hands and her voice. Using 29 alternate tunings and the percussive technique she calls ‘slap-tap’, you’ll find the addition of her pure, expressive vocals that dig deep and stir the heart to be the perfect accompaniment on many of her songs. Vicki writes and beautifully sings her own brand of music and lyrics while putting her unmistakable imprint on familiar tunes like the Beatles’ Norweigian Wood. An evening with Vicki is far more than a concert; stories, warmth and humor come gift wrapped in an unforgettable evening of music that leaves the audience always wanting more.Vick

Vicki has been recognized among the world’s greatest guitarists and musicians at festivals such as The International Montreal Jazz Festival, Germany’s Open Strings Guitar Festival, Italy’s Soave Guitar Festival, as well as at venues and Performing Arts Centers across the US and abroad. In 2005 she was one of the featured artists on ‘La Guitara’, the first compilation CD featuring female guitarists from around the globe, released by Vanguard Records. With several additional ground-breaking recordings behind her, recent acquisitions of the 6 string banjo, 12 string and baritone guitars, high demand at clinics and music camps and an ongoing European presence, Vicki continues to reach beyond musical borders and into new territory. Find out more about Vicki and bugera amplifier.

“I understand completely why the audience applauds and whistles so wildly…this is fiery, living music.”

“I have to open my eyes to make sure that only one guitar is playing and that Vicki Genfan – so the name of this fascinating woman – only owns two hands.”
– Spurren Magazine, Switzerland

“Vicki has brewed her own style that has no name…and created a new kind of singer-songwriter culture.”
– Frankfurter Allgemeine

“Genfan is carving a niche in the acoustic music world which few can fill.”

Esperanza Spaulding – A Hard Working Female Musician



From the beginning of her life to her current success as a creative musician, Esperanza Spalding has charted her own course. The young bassist/vocalist/composer was one of the biggest breakout stars of 2011—not just in jazz, but in all genres of music. Her receipt of the 2011 GRAMMY® for Best New Artist was unprecedented—the first time a jazz musician had won the award— but Spalding continues to make the unprecedented the norm.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Spalding grew up in a single-parent home and learned early lessons in the meaning of perseverance and moral character from the role model whom she holds in the highest regard to this day – her mother.

But even with a rock-solid role model, school did not come easy to Spalding, although not for any lack of intellectual acumen. She was both blessed and cursed with a highly intuitive learning style that often put her at odds with the traditional education system. On top of that, she was shut in by a lengthy illness as a child, and as a result, was home-schooled for a significant portion of her elementary school years.

However, the one pursuit that made sense to Spalding from a very early age was music. At age four, after watching classical cellist Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the roadmap was suddenly very clear. “That was when I realized that I wanted to do something musical,” she says. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit.”

Within a year, she had essentially taught herself to play the violin well enough to land a spot in The Chamber Music Society of Oregon, a community orchestra that was open to both children and adult musicians. She stayed with the group for ten years, and by age 15, she had been elevated to a concertmaster position.

But by then, she had also discovered the upright bass, and all of the non-classical avenues that the instrument could open for her. Suddenly, playing classical music in a community orchestra wasn’t enough for this young teenager anymore. Before long she was playing blues, funk, hip-hop and a variety of other styles on the local club circuit. Her first band, Noise for Pretend, expanded Spalding’s musical horizons and presented her earliest opportunities to sing and write music.

She also came under the influence of several elders in Portland’s musical community, including Greg McKelvey, Ronnie Harrison, Geoff Lee, Warren Rand, Stan Bock, Ronnie Steen, Janice Scroggins, Dr. Thara Memory and many other teachers in the Cultural Recreation Band and Mel Brown’s Jazz Camp.

At 15, Spalding left high school for good. Armed with her GED and aided by a generous scholarship, she enrolled in the music program at Portland State University. “I was definitely the youngest bass player in the program,” she says. “I was 16, and I had been playing the bass for about a year and a half. Most of the cats in the program had already had at least eight years of training under their belts, and I was trying to play in these orchestras and do these Bach cello suites. It wasn’t really flying through the material, but if nothing else, my teachers were saying, ‘Okay, she does have talent.’”

Berklee College of Music was the place where the pieces all came together and doors started opening. After a move to the opposite coast and three years of accelerated study, she not only earned a B.M., but also signed on as an instructor in 2005 at the age of 20 – an appointment that has made her one of the youngest faculty members in the history of the college. She was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship.espe

In addition to studying and teaching at Berklee, Spalding also had a chance to perform with many jazz icons, including pianist Michel Camilo, singer Patti Austin, guitarist Adam Rogers, and saxophonists Donald Harrison and Joe Lovano. “Working with Joe was terrifying,” she recalls, “but he’s a really generous person. I don’t know if I was ready for the gig or not, but he had a lot of faith in me. These years playing with him have been an amazing learning experience.”

Spalding has gone through several phases, which have been well documented during her brief recording career.  Her journey as a solo artist began with the 2006 release of Junjo, on the Spanish label Ayva Music, which featured pianist Aruán Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela. She presented the many different sides of her writing on Esperanza, her 2008 international debut recording for Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group, which quickly topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart and became the year’s best selling album worldwide by a new jazz artist.  Numerous awards and appearances followed, including an invitation by President Barack Obama to appear at both the White House and the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, and an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman that found Letterman and bandleader Paul Shaffer proclaiming the young musician the “coolest” guest in the three-decade history of the program.

“The objective of Esperanza was to show many sides of my musical personality,” Spalding explains; “but I also imagined that my next records would be built around a more concrete project-concept.”  What followed, Chamber Music Society from 2010 and her newly released Radio Music Society, made it clear that her initial triumphs were just the beginning.

“Originally I conceived the two albums as a double record, with intimate, subtle explorations of chamber works on one and jazz musicians exploring melodies, grooves and song associated with what we categorize as ‘pop-songs.’ Those are the two ways of looking at music that really interest me.”

Returning to her ever-expanding book of musical sketches, “taking my notes and organizing them into something coherent,” Spalding began with Chamber Music Society, the 2010 release on which the bassist was joined by longtime colleagues Leo Genovese (keyboards) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), plus percussionist Quintino Cinalli, vocalists (including the legendary Milton Nascimento) and a string trio (arranged by Gil Goldstein and Spalding).  The disc was another instant chart topper and gained multiple awards, none more imposing than the Best New Artist GRAMMY®.

Spalding’s latest release, Radio Music Society, expands the cast to include, among many others, jazz legends Lovano, Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart; hip-hop giant Q-Tip, Algebra Blessett, Lalah Hathaway, Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke, among an array of notable vocalists; and Portland mentors Scroggins and Memory, as well as the horn section of Memory’s American Music Program ensemble. “I’ve had the honor and blessing of working with so many phenomenal jazz musicians over the years,” Spalding explains, “As I’ve gotten to know them and their music, I’ve grown to love them as family and colleagues. I wished for an opportunity for us all to interpret songs together, so that they can be heard and received by a larger audience. All my personal heroes who are revered in the jazz world – like Joe Lovano and Terri Lyne Carrington – should be heard by a mainstream audience, because what they manifest in their music is so beautiful, sincere and uplifting. I think they literally bring good into the lives of the people who hear them”.

Radio Music Society is another unprecedented chapter in the Esperanza Spalding story, building on her past triumphs and achieving new heights that she will no doubt exceed in the future.  “The main way in which the Grammy has changed my life is that I keep getting asked how the Grammy has changed my life,” she says.  This will no doubt be a question that Esperanza is asked even more as Radio Music Society has been nominated for three GRAMMY ® Awards: Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists for the track ‘City of Roses’ and Best Long Form Video for the short films that accompany the album.

Spalding continues to spread her message around the globe. In addition to over 110 Chamber Music Society concerts, she still found time to tour with Joe Lovano’s US 5, perform at Rock In Rio with Milton Nascimento, play at Prince’s “Welcome 2 America” tour and join Wayne Shorter in celebrating Herbie Hancock’s 70th birthday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. As Jeff Baker of The Oregonian once raved of her electrifying talent, “This was about art, performed at the highest level by someone with the vision, talent, and determination to make it happen”.


Reprinted from

Music For A Lifetime – Start Kids Early



Music is life.  It is the beating of a bird’s wings, the beating of our heart, the sound and the rhythm of our own breath.


Ever sit out on a summer night and listen to the crickets’ songs or sit and enjoy the morning bird symphony as they sing to the rising sun?  All of this is music.  Even the sounds of a baby’s cries and squeals of delight is music to many of us.  There is a saying that “the sounds of children playing is beautiful music, but if your life condition is low, you cannot hear it.”music-children3


Music is important for all of us, but for children, it helps with their development in so many different ways.  There is a correlation between music making and the deepest workings of the human brain. Research has linked active music making with increased language discrimination and development, math ability, improved school grades, better-adjusted social behavior, and improvements in spatial-temporal reasoning, a cornerstone for problem solving.

Singing songs and reciting poems and rhymes with children helps children develop literacy skills.  Keeping a steady beat develops language. Young children innately relate to words, sounds, rhythms, tones, and pitches long before they talk, sing or dance.

Music encourages the ability to listen and thus to concentrate. Songs encourage speech and auditory discrimination. Through music, children learn to hear tempos, dynamics, and melodies. Listening for loud and soft, up and down, fast and slow encourages auditory development in the brain.

Music is nonjudgmental. There is no right or wrong, it just is what it is. Listening to different types of music nurtures self-esteem and encourages creativity, self-confidence, and curiosity.  Young children benefit by developing higher forms of thinking when they learn music.


Overall, music relieves stress.  We use it to relax us, excite us and to have something that we can identify ourselves with.  The more music your children have in their lives, the better they will speak and read.  Buy or rent instruments.  It’s easy to get a cheap music gift.  Sign your child and yourself! up for music lessons or make sure that music is a part of your child’s curriculum at school.  Music is a gift that will last a lifetime.


Jolie Rocke Brown – Sharing the Gift of Song




The best way to pay respect to a gift is to develop it and then given it away.  Jolie Rocke Brown has done that all of her life.  Her first cd is self-entitled as “Jolie Rocke Brown in Concert.” It’s a classical CD with arias, art song and spirituals.  Her current CD is an infusion of jazz, gospel and classical.   We’re going to get to know more about Jolie Rocke Brown the person, vocalist and educator. 


You have such vocal versatility and do jazz along with opera.  Tell us about your newest CD and what level of involvement did you have with the music and the arrangements?


Rock of Ages: Hymns for the Soul” was released in November 2013.  I am so excited to share this work with the world.  I was involved in shaping the arrangements to suit my specific vocal capabilities.  Working with two colleagues and friends, the arrangements primarily by Dan Campolieta and production by Joel Martin was a fruitful collaboration.  The three of us sat down and discussed each arrangement and elements we each wanted to incorporate.  Since it was an independent project, I had the ability to make the choices I desired.  Having worked with Joel and Dan for years, I felt comfortable accepting their suggestions because I knew they understood my voice and each style I perform extremely well.  I could not have asked for a better team.  I even co-arranged with Joel, Dan and Benjamin Gary.


Your mom recognized your talent early on and got you started on your musical journey.  Was this something that you absolutely wanted to do? 


Yes, I loved to sing and I wanted to do it.  My mother gave me the best kind of support.  I started taking private voice lessons when I was 10 years old.  I loved them from the first lesson.  I decided I wanted to have a singing career when I was about 12 years old.  I also wanted to be a music teacher. My mom allowed me to find my way, and to do whatever I believed I could do with my voice.


Opera has not been a favorite among African Americans. In fact, a lot of people consider this to be “white people’s music.” Have you ever faced that criticism and stereotype from African Americans and if so, what do you do with it?


I have faced criticism and racism in music from all races of people, including my own.


We must realize that music is extremely subjective.  What I like, you may or may not like.  That goes for vocal preferences with gender, persona, musical genres, tone quality, tonality… there are too many areas to address here.  So, I have learned over the years to sing what I love and want to sing.  Some people like my opera better than my jazz; or my R&B better than my opera; or my gospel better than anything.  You can’t please all of the people all of the time.  I sing what I enjoy and share the gift with which I was endowed.  Since I am still singing professionally, enough people must like what I offer.


In speaking with other major performers, they have said that they wish there could be more Black people in the audience so they can get exposed to the kinds of music they’re doing.  Do you share that sentiment? 


I think more people should be in the audience period.  Especially children.  For some reason, adults leave their children home instead of bringing them to concerts and arts performances.  Why?  How do we raise a generation that will support the arts?  We teach them to love the arts – and that begins with attending live performances.  You experience live arts with many more senses, and it brings the arts alive.  Why deprive our children of this experience?  Then we wonder why audiences are filled with older people.  It’s not just economics folks.


You do workshops and presentations for teenagers.  These are kids who probably have never heard opera or operatic singing.  Are they receptive to your vocal performances? 


ABSOLUTELY!  I love singing for young people.  I don’t like when they sit there in a coma and stare through me though.  My best audiences are ones where the young people can’t wait to ask a question or make a comment to a friend next to them.  It tells me as a performer that they are super engaged and want to know more about what is going on.  So the mild buzz in the audience doesn’t bother me, it excites me.  I am often asked, “How can you make that huge sound?”  Then, I can tell them about the voice and how it works as an instrument – one I carry with me everywhere I go.  I find that when young people are encouraged to analyze and explore something new, they are more open and accepting.  When we tell them “sit still”, “be quiet”, “don’t talk”, we are in essence shutting their sensory perception down before they can even get started.  The more our children can experience great singing, the more they can learn to appreciate it – even if they don’t “like” it.


  What do you give them during one of your workshops — what do they learn during one of your programs?


I am very passionate about what I do.  So as soon as I stand in front of young people, it shows.  Passion is infectious!  I love learning and talking about the voice as an instrument and explaining how much one must know about their body to sing well.  I love singing in various languages, and letting young people know that I grew up on welfare, in a poor neighborhood, but in my adulthood I have traveled across three continents, and I have dreams of traveling more.   I let them know that music is a viable career, but one in which you must be willing to create your own opportunities. I love telling the stories and historical facts about the songs I sing.  I also share what happens behind the scenes.  It takes a huge community backstage to support the artists on stage.  Some awesome opportunities in the arts are backstage careers.  Don’t forget, someone has to be in the audience too!


You grew up in New York City and attended a musical high school.  Then you went to the Hartt School in Connecticut to continue your music education.  You settled in Connecticut from there.  Why did you not go back to New York to pursue your musical career and how has working with Connecticut as your home base served you?


Connecticut has served me well, and I pray that I have served Connecticut well.  I remained in the Hartford area because I wanted to teach.  After several years of teaching, I launched a professional singing career part-time.  I’ve been singing regularly in the Greater Hartford region for more than 15 years.  It is truly a blessing to call Connecticut home.  Staying here afforded my husband and I the opportunity to maintain a stable home for our children, provide music education for a generation of Hartford area children and build a promising singing career.  I am very grateful and feel I made the right choice.


You have performed in a number of places around the world.  How did you get those kinds of gigs and how does it feel to be an invited guest in a foreign country?


My first visit abroad was to Germany.  My voice teacher had a long-term singing contract there.  I visited him to see what singing in Europe was all about.  I learned heaps and got the travel itch!  When a friend emailed me an audition announcement for a European tour, I sent my materials immediately and was hired.  The best way to travel to Europe or anywhere is when someone else is paying the bill, and paying you!  It is an honor to represent the United States of America when I am performing abroad.  There is so much to learn and experience, but one also soon realizes that other parts of the world are not so different from the USA.  People are people, and we all have triumphs and struggles.


Recognizing that the voice is an instrument, do you play any other instruments?

My talent is singing.  In college I had to take two years of piano study.  I can manage very poorly on the piano.  I also briefly studied the recorder, flute, clarinet, trombone and violin.  It is helpful to have an understanding of how instruments work.  I encourage everyone to study and instrument along with voice, especially harmonic instruments like the piano, guitar, or ukulele.


Of all the people you trained with, who was your favorite instructor and what did they give you that you cherish the most?


That is a difficult question because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I have had excellent voice teachers since I was 10 years old.  However, I think David Lee Brewer was the best influence on my voice and career development.  He taught me to love my instrument and trust the gift God gave me.  He also taught me to be more aware about the business of music.  As a professional musician, you must handle both aspects well, even when you have management and a business team.  What good is the team if you don’t know what they are doing for you?


What do you give your students?
I help my students develop solid technical skills.  I encourage them to find their path and help guide their focus. I also give them opportunities to perform, which is essential in honing performance capabilities.  They don’t have to choose a music career; they have to first be happy.


You’ve done some theatre.  Is there more of this to come?  What are your plans and how will you accomplish them? 


Much more to come!  Currently, I am performing with Bated Breath Theatre, a Hartford based company.  I love the work we are currently performing –  “Freedom in Three Acts”.   I believe this style of theatre suits me well.   I plan to continue working with them and seek additional opportunities in this genre.


As you look back at your musical life and what you have done and the places that you have been to perform, are you satisfied or do you wish there was more?  Why or why not?


I am exceedingly blessed to have the life I am living.  In my high school yearbook, under my photo I placed an anonymous quote that has remained in my heart – “Time is not measured by the passing of the years, but by what one does…. feels… and achieves.”  Sharing the gift of song is a great feeling and achievement.  

Learn more:

Meshell – Been Places and Going Places with Music



Meshell Ndegeocello is an American singer-songwriter, rapper , bassist, and vocalist. Her music incorporates a wide variety of influences, including funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, R&B, rock and jazz. She has received significant critical acclaim throughout her career, and has had ten career Grammy nominations. She has been credited for having “sparked” the neo-soul movement.

meshell4Ndegeocello was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Germany, to army Sergeant Major and saxophonist father Jacques Johnson and health care worker mother Helen. She was raised in Washington, D.C. where she attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Ndegeocello adopted her surname at the age of 17, which she says means “free like a bird” in Swahili.

Ndegeocello honed her skills on the D.C. go-go circuit in the late 1980s with the bands Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essense. Going solo, she was one of the first artists to sign with Maverick Records, where she released her debut album, Plantation Lullabies. This recording presented a distinctly androgynous persona.
Her biggest hit is a duet with John Mellencamp, a cover version of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night”, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts. Her only other Billboard Hot 100 hit besides “Wild Night” has been her self-penned “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)”, which peaked at No. 73 in 1994. Also in 1994, Ndegeocello collaborated with Herbie Hancock on “Nocturnal Sunshine,” a track for the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as “Album of the Year” by Time magazine.

She has appeared on numerous recordings and can be seen in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, singing The Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and The Temptations’ “Cloud Nine”.

In 2010, Ndegeocello contributed to the essay anthology It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller in the vein of the It Gets Better Project.

Following the release of 2011′s critically acclaimed Weather, Meshell Ndegeocello announces the release of her 10th studio album, Pour une âme souveraine (“For a sovereign soul”), a dedication to fellow musician Nina Simone.

She’s someone we’d like to talk to at WMTS. She probably uses line 6 dt25.