Featured Interviews

Sheléa: Musical Prodigy
Interview By Tachelle Wilkes

Tachelle Wilkes (T): What essence is behind the name Sheléa?
Sheléa (S): My mom's name is Sheila and all my sister's and I have the "sh" sound at the beginning of our names. I'm afraid that's the only significance. When I was a girl, I wished I had a more common name so I could get a cup or keychain with my name on it. But now I love the fact that it's so unique. My middle name is Melody so it does seem meant to be that I'm involved in music. 
T:  How would you describe your musical style and influences? 
S: I grew up listening to only gospel music, so I had to play catch up as I got older. So I was influenced from Vanessa Bell Armstrong to The Winans to Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand. Stevie Wonder also played a big role in my musicality. For this album, it's definitely a R&B/Pop feel with a lot of heart and soul. 
T: Tell us about your inspiration behind the song Love Fell On Me, which was the musical theme in the movie Jumping The Broom?
S: I wrote this song years before the movie was even made. So it was incredible that it fit so perfectly in the story line for Jason and Sabrina played by Laz Alonso and Paula Patton. I was in love at the time so that made the songwriting process a lot easier. 

Mona Bode: The Bold & The Beautiful
Interview By Kirk Anthony

Kirk Anthony (KA): What was it about house music that drew you to it? What has loving & remaining involved in the artform when it is well past its commercial & mainstream heyday?
Mona Bode (MB): I have been into house music since it was called ‘disco’ when I was around 14 years old (a long, long time ago) and really fell in love when that Chicago sound came to NYC. It is like an old pair of sneakers that you don’t want to throw away -  you get a new pair and they feel good for a minute, but you always go back to what you love. That is the best analogy I can come up with regarding that. I have always loved house but, from time to time, I would move to hip-hop, dance, and even reggae (not reggaeton), but would always go back to house music – it’s in my heart. House music makes me feel good & happy; it’s a feeling you have to experience to understand what i’m talking about. I have cried listening to house music because of how it makes me feel.

KA: How would you describe the current state of the house music?  

MB: Can’t say much about the industry because I have only been involved in the industry aspect for about 4 years but, on the community aspect of it, the love always stays the same. House heads have a love for each other that only another house head can understand. We are like family and take care of each other. 

Soul Sessions With Leela James
Interview By Tachelle Wilkes

Tachelle Wilkes (TW): What brought you to music?

Leela James (LJ): I would say my family. It was in my household – I would say I heard music that way and would just continue to hear it. I am a product of my upbringing – my environment.  

TW: What helped to shape your sound?

LJ: The music that I heard growing up it is still a lot of the music I listen to today – it probably helped shaped and mold my sound and I just contribute it to my environment and sometimes I was told that you are just born with it. Either it is or it isn’t.

TW: Tell us about your new song “Say That” with Anthony Hamilton – what sparked it?

LJ: You know Anthony and I over the years had talked about doing a collaboration. People would always say things like you are the female Anthony and vice versa. So finally we were able to get in and make it happen and I think that it came out better than we anticipated.

Interview with Barbara Weathers: The Voice

Interview By Tachelle Shamash Wilkes

Tachelle Wilkes: What words describe the essence of Barbara Weathers?

Barbara Weathers: The words I would use to describe the essence of B.W. would be, God fearing, kind, and forth-right.

TW:  When did you first discover your voice?

BW: I've been singing for as long as I can remember. I think the first time I became aware that it touched others, was the the first time I sang in church at the age of seven. When I started to sing, the congregation let out a roar that scared me.

I knew at that moment, singing was what I was meant to do.

TW:  How did you get your start in the music industry?

BW: I joined my first band at the age of thirteen. When I was twenty, I was singing at a local jazz club in Greensboro N.C. and was approached by a few scouts from Philidelphia International Records, which in turn led me to Atlantiic Starr, and my first demo. The songs I recorded were, "Secret Lovers," "Silver Shadow" and a song called "Big Boy Games.” They were for a solo deal with MCA Records, which I was denied.

Interview with Queen Rose: Musical Ascension

Interview By Tachelle Shamash Wilkes

Tachelle Wilkes: When did you first lift a violin? How did it feel?

Queen Rose: I am not 100% sure when that was, because my older brother was already playing the violin, but I know I wanted to learn it because I loved my brother’s playing so much -- I started with violin lessons when I was seven years old.

T: Please tell us more about your musical beginnings as a violinist and discovery of your singing and production talents.

QR: There was always music in my house as long as I remember. I have 3 older siblings who already played instruments. We also sang as a family at home, I have 5 siblings. Imagine “The Sound of Music,” I grew up in the middle of the Austrian Alps. I first learned the recorder, then started the violin and later the guitar and then the piano. The violin was my main instrument and I stayed with it all these years, never stopped. When I was 12 years old I knew I wanted to tour the world as a professional musician. I always wanted to sing too, but I was very shy. So I just sang in choirs at first. It wasn’t until much later that I took on my singing. The producing came after I had written Jazz compositions and then went more into popular music styles and into songwriting. It was a natural development. I knew how I wanted my songs to sound like, but I couldn’t find producers to work with who created a sound I liked. So I just started to teach myself how to produce and record in Protools and Reason. I wanted to create my own sound and style, not just for my violin playing and singing, but also my productions. Just like Wyclef, you can identify a Wyclef production, hopefully one day people will say that about my productions too.

Interview with C-Note: Music Is My Dream

Interview By Cameron Allen

C-Note, Grammy nominated writer, vocal producer, and engineering producer who received a nomination for his work on Rihanna’s “Loud” album shares his secret to a dream with us.

Cameron Allen: Who is C-Note?

C-Note: I can best describe myself as laid back, hard working with a strong belief in God.

CA: Have you always had a strong belief in God?

C-Note: I always had a steady belief in God. Even the struggling in college was a blessing. God has always been the driver. He has always directed life. Even meeting Rico Love, who is a vocal producer and engineer was God driven.

CA: How did you first get into music, meaning, how did you get your foot in the door of music industry?

CN: Like I said, even the struggle in college was a blessing. I had the opportunity to meet Rico Love and work with him while I was in school. Rico Love, #1 song writer in the game -- responsible for such hits as “Touching You,” by Rick Ross -- executive producer on Usher’s album, and “Motivation (Kelly Rowland).” We were both low on funds, and just treating people right and working hard -- I made a name for myself. When Rico got on he put me on. People liked my work and things grew from there.

Interview with Khaled Ouaaz: Meeting My Destiny

Interview By Tachelle Shamash Wilkes

Tachelle Wilkes: Who is Khaled Ouaaz?

Khaled Ouaaz: I'm still asking myself that. I would put it as an ambitious and open-minded young man originally from Algeria, North Africa. His family was fortunate enough to win a Visa through the government lottery program during the civil war there in the 90's. And here I am now, a recording artist, writer, actor and producer.

TW: How would you describe your work ethic?

KO: I'll give you a cliché. You got one shot in life. I came from a third-world country. I was raised in Brooklyn on food stamps and section 8. Bottom line, I don't like living like that so I work hard. Every single day. I want it all.

TW: How would you describe your style as an artist?

KO: Limitless. Barrier- breaking. I don't like to settle for he's alright, but he's not real. My 'ego' days were 5 years ago, but that's natural. If it's good enough, tell me, how could it be great? You know.

Interview with Ms. Instrumental: My Love, My Passion Is Music

Interview By Kirk Anthony

Ms. Instrumental: My Love, My Passion Is Music

Kirk Anthony: How did you go from singing/songwriting to poetry to, finally, producing?

Ms. Instrumental: For me it was a very easy transition. Singing and writing poetry has always been my passion, however I wanted to put music behind the words I was writing. From there I came to love the process of creating/producing music.

KA: With you having talent & skills in singing, songwriting, spoken word poetry, & music production, what made you decide to pursue a career in production when it seems a successful career in the other aspects would lead to more fame, fortune, etc?

Inst: That's a good question -- I'm pretty laid back and not really interested in fame or fortune. I am interested in happiness and peace of mind and that's exactly what producing music gives me. It allows me to say something without ever opening up my mouth or jotting a word down. It's very powerful.

KA: How would you describe your production style?

Inst: I've been told that my production style is unique. I can agree with that description. I tend to lean more toward a R&B/pop style mainly because that's the genre that I've been brought up on. That and Gospel. So if you mix R&B, Pop, Gospel and Classical music into one genre then I'm somewhere in there!!!

Interview with Winsome Sinclair: The Casting Icon

Interview By Tachelle Shamash Wilkes

Tachelle: What three words describe your essence?

Winsome Sinclair: Loving, discerning, visionary (wow never been asked this one before).

T: Did you dream about being in the entertainment industry as a child?

WS: Actually no, I loved entertainment, but it wasn't my dream. It chose me.

T: How did you first get into the casting arena? Take us back to that day.

WS: After I graduated from college (FAMU) a girlfriend told me Spike spoke at her school and she took down his address. She kept urging me to take it down for myself. I refused for a while then I finally acquiesced. That was the week "Do The Right Thing" came out. I wrote Spike a letter on a Monday (asking him only for the opportunity to learn). I mailed the letter on Tuesday morning, his executive producer (Jon Killik) called me that Thursday and the rest is history.

T: What duties encompass the day of a casting director?

WS: Depending on the project, film, commercial, or music video, we spend the day vetting talent for the directors and producers so they can choose the best actor/actress for the job.

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