As a musician and songwriter, I found that as I matured in my understanding of music, my genre interest began to widen. I did not grow up in a household that only listened to one particular type of music, but many. I listen to everything from Phil Collins, to Rod Stewart, Elton John, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Celine Dion, Madonna, Chicago, Classic rock and Motown, and even Nigerian music.
Because my music taste were so vast, I had no choice but to classify the type of music that I write as Neo-Soul, R&B, and Pop. I have to say though that calling my music anything more that R&B was a bit hard for me at first. I took my eyes off the real focus at hand which was the talent that God gave me and I started to focus on things that had nothing to do with music. I used to feel guilty about being an African American artist, and not having gone through a hard life. We all have our struggles, yes, but as a young artist, I used to believe that in order for me to make it in the music business being an African American I had to have a certain type of voice, a certain type of look, and a certain type of persona. Little did I know that I would let these misconceptions stop me from exploring who I was.
Now that might have been the case back then, but now in 2009 when everybody is musically doing everything I can be whoever I want to be. I look at inspirations such as Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Prince, new artists like Jazmine Sullivan and Keri Hilson, and of course Corine Baily. These are all African American artists that choose to be unconventional and in fact soared in their careers. I came to know that it is not about fitting in it is about standing out and getting noticed.
My music is influenced by contemporary, pop, electronic, dance, R&B, and jazz. When I became of age to realize that my talent was meant to supersede boundaries, I embraced the artist that I was and found out there are a lot of African American artist who grew up in great homes, lived great lives, and still could be successful in the game without having to sing and express poverty, death, and superficial issues. I believe that as an artist, your life is your testimony, and it is up to you to incorporate that into your talent.
Now, my voice has become a lot stronger and more powerful than it was when I was fourteen. I used to think if I could only run my voice and do all the riffs that other successful African American singers do, I will have it all, if I can only start writing a certain way I’d be set. But guess what, I can run the heck out of my voice now, I can write an amazing R&B song, but I now know that through it all the point was never to fit into a stereotype it was to discover my full potential and soar. And now when people tell me that I sound like Jennifer Hudson or I can hit Mariah Carey notes, it gives me pleasure for the right reasons now, and not the superficial ones it would have given me years ago. I would feel just as content if they never told me to be honest. Because if I do not sound like these great divas, guess what, I sound like Liz O. It’s music, art, expression, life. If you know you have a talent but you are unsure right now how to classify it, do not worry, the classification will come with the success. Right now, find what makes you the artist that you are. And you will find that through exploring the wide array of talent that you have, you are more powerful than the artists that stick to one category. My art, my music, is not determined by the color of my skin, but by song in my heart, and the stroke of my pen.
As always keep up the dream and don’t let ANYONE talk you out of it.
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