Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you originally from? What are three things you’d like our readers to know about you?
I was born and raised in NYC, but my mother is Ethiopian and my father is Bermudian-American.
You have a soulful, melodic voice that complements your acoustic guitar play beautifully. When did you first start singing? How did you get started playing the guitar?
I’ve been singing to myself for as long as I remember, but I started taking it seriously about 5 years ago after graduating high school. I bought a guitar in the gap year I took between high school and college, and started teaching myself from a book and by learning songs I liked.
Was music your first love or was there another career in your future initially?
I’ve always loved doing anything creative, from painting to writing to filmmaking, but music is what really moves me.
Which musicians and songrwriters did you listen to growing up? Have your musical heroes/heroines had an impact on the music you make now?
Everyone! A lot of soul and Motown from my parents. My dad is a huge hip hop fan, too. Bob Marley, The Beatles. The first cassette I ever bought with my own money was Lisa Loeb’s Tails. Being exposed to all kinds of music definitely had an impact on the music I create, I like to mix and match and incorporate all kinds of a sounds.
You’ve done some wonderful covers of other artist. Your cover of Blame It by Jamie Foxx sounds completely different from the original. You really give it your own flavor. Are there any covers that you’ve done that you really love? Is there one you’d like to do in the future?
I love covering hip hop songs. One, because I’m a big fan and it gives me a chance to perform types of songs I love but wouldn’t write myself. Two, because I don’t think you get a whole lot out of covering expected songs by artists similar to your sound – that’s what the original is for! I like the freedom to reimagine a song in a new way.
You also write original music. What inspires your songwriting? What’s your favorite song you’ve written thus far?
I can be inspired by anything – from people I know, places I’ve been, or particular moments or feelings. Songwriters tend to think their most recent song is their favorite, so let’s just go with whatever song I’ve just written at the time you’re reading this!
Your musical career has given you the opportunity to travel. What are some of the notable places you’ve been? Do you enjoy life on the road?
I’ve been so lucky to get to travel to so many different places. My two favorites would have to be Ethiopia, where my mom is from, and Bermuda, where my dad is from. I feel at home in those two places.
Most musicians find themselves collaborating with others at some point in their careers. What artists would you want to collaborate with, and why?
I am totally blown away by Bruno Mars. I love the way he writes, and that he’s got that reggae inspiration going on in a lot of his work. Also his versatility while still maintaining a distinct sound.
We’re always interested in what the artists we interview are listening to. What are the top five songs currently in rotation on your iPod?
- Lazy Song – Bruno Mars
- Monkey Man – The Maytals
- Flightless Bird, American Mouth – Iron & Wine
- Powerful Stuff – Sean Hayes
- There Goes My Baby – Usher
Where can readers go to learn more about you and hear your music?