- Racist America
- Viola Irene Davis Desmond: A Canadian colossus in the fight against racial segregation and the right to equal opportunities for women
- Interview with the Oscar Nominee Documentarist: Raoul Peck
- I Am Not Your Negro: Film Review
- The Many Costs of Racism
- Interview with the Emmy Award Winner actor: Shemar Moore
- Love Alibi featuring 80 Empire - Divine Brown Juno Award Winner
- Interview with the Oscar and Grammy Winner John Legend
|EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF THE BEST CANADIAN SINGERS/SONGWRITERS: THE JUNO WINNER DIVINE BROWN|
|Written by Patricia Turnier|
|Friday, 17 February 2017 00:00|
The dress is from Voluptuos Inc. and the photographer is Margaret Malandruccolo
Divine Brown was born in Canada from Jamaican parents and grew up in Toronto. She comes from a family of twelve kids and is the middle child. Growing up, she loved hearing artists such as Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Deniece Williams. Divine Brown started singing in the 80s. More precisely, she began singing at age four and performing at age twelve. Therefore, she has been on stage with The Temptations, George Benson and the rapper KRS. Moreover, she opened for Brian Adams, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. Her first album Divine Brown was on the market in 2005 via Universal Music Canada. Most of the songs were penned by Brown. The single “Old Skool Love” from this CD became the highest in the Canadian charts for a debut from an R&B performer. It reached the first position on the MuchMoreMusic chart; it was a top 10 for the MuchMusic (the Canadian MTV) chart. “Old Skool Love” became a certified Gold seller.
In addition, the CD received two Canadian Urban Music Awards in 2005 for the categories of: New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year (specifically for Old Skool Love). Noteworthily, her first album, 2005's Divine Brown, was produced by rapper/producer Saukrates. Moreover, the Canadian radio hit "Old Skool Love" became a hit in multiple radio Canadian stations like CJFM. Drake collaborated on the remix of "Twist My Hair" in 2006. This single was also part of Divine Brown. People can hear Brown’s great vocal abilities in songs such as “My Cryin’ Eyes” and “Warrior” in her first album. “Without You” is another nice single with jazz rhythm from this album. “Single Mamma” (another song from this LP) talks about the sacrifices of working single mothers.
In 2006, Brown was nominated for two Juno Awards: "R&B/Soul Recording of the Year" for her first album, and "New Artist of the Year." Brown’s second CD The Love Chronicles released in 2008 ranked at number 22 on the Canadian Album Chart. It also reached the Top 15 on the 2010 U.S. Billboard Dance Chart. The Love Chronicles contains the hit single, "Sunglasses", a spin-off of the Corey Hart 80s’ classic "Sunglasses at Night". This song features guests Kardinal Offishal and Nelly Furtado. It reached the Top 15 on the American Billboard Dance Chart in 2010. "Sunglasses" also became a Top 25 hit on the Canadian Hot 100. Circa 2008, Divine Brown performed with Youssou N'Dour for a free concert during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to promote his movie I Bring What I Love.
In 2009, she was nominated at the Gala Soba in Quebec for these four categories: best Anglophone R&B/Soul artist of the year, best Anglophone single of the year, best Anglophone video of the year and best Anglophone album of the year. Still in 2009, Brown was again nominated for two Juno awards: "Single of the Year" for the up-tempo song "Lay It on the Line," and "R&B/Soul Recording of the Year" for The Love Chronicles. She won for the last category. Divine Brown’s third album, Something Fresh (2013) is characterized by a mix of dance, reggae and R&B.
Three years ago, for Black History Month, one of Canada’s greatest MCs, Maestro Fresh Wes --labeled “The Godfather of Canadian hip hop”--paid tribute to several iconic political and musical heroes in the video of his single "Timeless." Divine Brown is featured in the video, which finishes with an inspiring quote from the late Nelson Mandela. In 2016, Divine Brown was part of the cast for the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” which started on International Women’s day, March 8. Throughout her career, Brown was part of off-Broadway productions such as “Mama I Wanna Sing!”, the Toronto production of “Rent” and “Ain’t Misbehavin”. Furthermore, she performed in other musicals like “Life, Death and the Blues”, “Father Comes Home From The Wars 1, 2 and 3 and “The Obeah Opera”. Ms. Brown also sang at many musical festivals around the world. Moreover, she was part of an interactive documentary series entitled City Sonic, which featured TWENTY Toronto artists. She was featured in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Today’s Parent magazine, City Life magazine, etc. She was in RnB magazine last fall.
Philanthropy is important for Divine Brown. Thus, she gets involved in charitable organizations. She contributes to World Vision Canada and its Artist Associates program, which provides financial tours support for performers who convey the message of hope to the stage. In 2013, Brown performed at the Gala of Light fundraiser in support of Street Haven at the Crossroads” (that was founded in 1965) which gives services to homeless females in Toronto. From that experience, the singer remembered how resilient these women were. Divine Brown considers that she has a social obligation as an artist. Her uniqueness and differences set her apart from the entertainment industry. She is one of the greatest Canadian vocalists. She does not use coarse language in her songs and never objectifies herself in her videos. Her main musical genres in her body of work are R&B, soul, neo soul and Jazz. On a more personal level, she is the mother of a teenage daughter.
Currently, Divine Brown is evolving as a musician. More specifically, she is a bass player and she recently learned guitar. It is interesting to see that she is developing herself and growing constantly which makes her a true artist. It also shows how she fearlessly embraces challenges. In addition, she has many other artistic interests such as acting. She loves theater. She will be part of a musical this winter entitled “Passing Train” at the Acting Up Stage Company.
Overall, Divine Brown is the real thing. The world can hear her sing a cappella on YouTube and will observe she is a real singer. Her voice is musical without effort, even when she’s only speaking. It is awesome! She has a five-octave range ability. So, her voice is multi-layered. Brown also received gold certification for her debut self-titled CD. She won a Juno Award in 2009 for the album The Love Chronicles in the category Soul Recording of the Year. This event established her as an important songstress on the Canadian scene. She also got the Juno nominations: Single of the Year“(for “Lay It on the Line” in 2009), R&B Soul Recording of the Year (for Divine Brown in 2006) and New Artist of the Year (in 2006). Furthermore, she won a SOCAN No. 1 Award. Divine Brown has been active as a professional singer since 1997. She has been associated with multiple singers such as Lawrence Gowan., a Canadian artist. She performed in front of thousands while opening shows for Bryan Adams as well as the Backstreet Boys for their Unbreakable Tour in North America in 2008. Her body of work attracts fans of all ages. She wears many hats: she is a lyricist, a singer, a theater performer. She describes herself as an independent R&B, soul, pop, dance artist from Toronto, Canada.
Her latest single “Love Alibi” featuring 80 Empire was released last November on iTunes (the official music video was launched in December 2016) and her new EP Crazy Love Amplified will be on the market in February 2017. Thus, people can hear once again the powerful voice of Divine Brown in her newest song “Love Alibi”.
[Here she talks about her professional path and her upcoming album. The interview was conducted on November 22nd 2016]
D.B. My Caribbean heritage means a lot to me. My family is from Jamaica. I was born in Canada but culturally I have been influenced by several reggae artists and I integrated their musicality in my art. Beres Hammond is definitely an artist that I can name. Very early on, he incorporated R&B and Soul in his reggae. He started this in the seventies. I highly respect him. He had an album entitled Soul Reggae, it was really magical and I believe it was thanks to the soul influence. I did cover some reggae songs in my career, like Dennis Brown’s “Singing Watching”. I also hold him in high regards. Bob Marley records were played a lot in my household. His music was so conscious and thorough for his era. He was on this earth too shortly but had the time to crossover and created an international influence. His sound had no boundaries and his artistry is ageless. It speaks to limitless generations of music lovers.
P.T. I went to the five continents and reggae is the most popular Black music worldwide. For instance, in Thailand I saw a nice graffiti of Bob Marley which portrayed him as a legend.
D.B. I am definitely aware of the extent of popularity for this musical form. It is one of the main reasons that makes me proud of my Jamaican heritage. I am talking about how influential reggae music has been for decades. I would like to add that I loved the Grammy-nominated Dennis Brown, considered as one of the major performers of lovers rock, a subgenre of reggae. Bob Marley used to say that he was “the crown prince of reggae”. I hold him in high regard. He has influenced several reggae artists since the late seventies.
About the Canadian heritage, growing up I used to listen a lot to rock and folk. I love Canadian icons such as Joni Mitchell. When I was very young and I heard “Help Me” for the first time, I remember how I felt and I wanted to make music that would transmit inspiring emotions to people like the one I sensed at the time. Joni Mitchell is one of the Canadian artists who inspired me the most because this performer made me feel that it was possible for a female singer to make it internationally.
P.T. How did you choose your stage name Divine Brown?
D.B. My first pseudonym was Divine Earth Essence. It reflected the way I was feeling at the time, meaning as a mother. It represented my understanding of life. I see a connection between earth and motherhood. The earth gives and sustains life, likewise for women. So, having those words in my stage name made perfect sense to me. My choice was also about my comprehension of existing as a Black woman and internally embracing my identity. “Divine” concerns the gift that was given to me as a female artist. I believe that all my creativity comes from a spiritual place. I wanted to have the name Brown as a recording artist because it is my last name.
P.T. When did you make this choice?
D.B. In 2005.
P.T. I guess that by eliminating the word Earth, it made your stage name shorter.
D.B. Yes but the main reason was to maintain my last name.
P.T. What is your singing training background? Were you part of a choir in a church, etc.?
D.B. I started to sing in a choir at the age of thirteen. In addition, for eight months I trained at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto with a vocal coach (who provided a classical teaching method) when I was about fourteen. I did this for about eight months. There, I learned fundamental singing techniques to apply. It has represented a great experience for me to this day because it gave me a solid basis on how to use my voice. This education also allowed me to own my craft as a singer.
P.T. Did you also learn in the conservatory how to be comfortable as a performer on stage?
D.B. No, the knowledge that I received from the conservatory was on a technical level. I started to learn how to perform in theater productions where I got my first professional gig at the age of twelve. It allowed me to grasp how to present myself on stage and how to relate with the public by making sure the audience feels the energy while I portray different characters. Some performers will look at the floor and this breaks the connection with the spectators. I learned to be comfortable on stage and avoid doing this in musical theaters.
P.T. Please elaborate on the first professional gig you got at the age of twelve in a musical. What did you learn from this experience that served you for the years to come?
D.B. The first musical I did was entitled “Rainbow World” written by the iconic Canadian Salome Bey who received the Order of Canada in 2005. She is also a Grammy nominee and who known as "Canada's First Lady of Blues". The musical is about the inclusion of all races and the beauty of a rainbow world filled with different people. That experience confirmed for me that I wanted to be a performer. In other words, it made me realize this was what I really wished to do, I felt it represented my comfort zone.
P.T. Given that you love capoeira (the origin of breakdance), would you be interested in singing in Portuguese one day and in incorporating this Brazilian martial art into a music video? Would you also like to sing in other languages such as French and Spanish?
D.B. When I first started as a recording artist, for my second video (which was unfortunately not released) I incorporated capoeira in the single “Longer than I”. This song was part of my Earth album. In the video, professionals in capoeira appeared and did the moves. In terms of singing in Portuguese, I can do it thanks to capoeira. I know about it. In addition, all the words for the technical movements (the side kicks, etc.) of this martial art are in Portuguese. They are incorporated into acrobatics, music and dance. I would definitely be open to sing an entire song in Portuguese in the future. I use some of this language in “Sunglasses” with the robotic voice. Furthermore, given that Nelly Furtado is Portuguese, she uses also it in this single. So, Portuguese words are included in the song “Sunglasses” like “oculos escuros” which mean “dark glasses”. Nelly Furtado collaborated in the writing process and was featured in the single. I would definitely also be interested to sing in French and Spanish because I love Latin languages.
P.T. I know you love jazz. Name us between one and three jazz artists dead or alive who you admire and tell us why.
D.B. When I was about eighteen, I performed for a jazz band called Groove United. This experience became the start of my love for jazz. Firstly, I can name Herbie Hancock because I started listening to him in my early twenties. I love how creative he is. I respect the fact that he connects with artists all over the world. With his collaborations with them, he includes different sounds in his music: afro-Cuban, Brazilian music, etc. In addition, Hancock is one of the founders of the post-bop sound (with the influence of Miles Davis), an art form considered as a vector which transformed jazz to another level with a deeper creative freedom. Hancock also became one of the first jazz musicians to use a combination of synthesizers and funk music.
P.T. Did you know that Hancock wrote his autobiography in 2014?
D.B. No, I have to check it out. I would love to read it. It is hard for me to think of another living jazz artist who I really admire.
P.T. It can be someone who is not with us anymore.
D.B. Sarah Vaughan. I fell in love with her when I was about fourteen while I was doing the musical “Rainbow”. A friend of the writer (of the musical) played her album in his house and I immediately liked it because of the way she sings. I enjoy the classical nature of her voice. I think her voice sounds so pure. It is endowed with so much clarity. The media described her vocal sound as the ageless voice of modern jazz. The NY Times wrote for her obituary that she was a "singer who brought an operatic splendor to her performances of popular standards and jazz”. She possessed a wide and rich vocal range. I became enamored with her technique. I am very influenced by her and some people tend to feel it in my work.
It is difficult to choose a third person because there are so many but I could name the bass player Jaco Pastorius. He died very young. He was very influential and played with several well-known artists such as Herbie Hancock. His tone, sound and approach were amazing especially with the bass guitar. I play this instrument but not at his level and it has been relatively recently that I learned it. The contribution that Pastorius did in the musical field is tremendous for the short period of time he was on this planet. His work, and especially his composition “Portrait of Tracy”, has been influential in the jazz, hip hop and R&B community. As a matter of fact, SWV in their song “Rain” used part of the melody of one of Pastorius’ works for their first album.
P.T. As mentioned, you recently learned to play the guitar. Are there female guitarists who inspire you such as Memphis Minnie? If so, how?
D.B. Memphis Minnie managed to make a name for herself in a time when her genre was male dominated. In the early forties, she even began to play electric guitar. This was a bold move for a woman of her time. This demonstrates how open she was to explore other type of music beside blues even if she is viewed as the most popular female country blues singer of all time. Her contribution in the music scene is interesting because she was a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. I needed to learn the guitar within a short period of time and to focus on the material that would be used in the musical (I would be part of) called “Father comes from the wars 1, 2 and 3”. It was a beautiful production written by the African-American author Susan Lori Parks. I had to collaborate with musicians such as Dona Grantis who played with Prince for about four years. She is actually from Canada and is a very good friend of mine. She is a great guitar player and I wish I could play like her [Chuckles]. So, she is also definitely an inspiration to me. She currently lives in Minneapolis.
P.T. Where Prince came from.
D.B. Exactly! We are really sad about his passing.
P.T. What type of music (reggae, soul, R&B…) will your fans hear on your newest album? In other words, will they hear a unique genre or will it be eclectic? Please, also tell us why you made these choices.
D.B. It will be diverse given that I love things that are eclectic. People will hear classic R&B and soul. The fans will also hear electronic and pop sounds. I chose a collection of music that did not get a chance to be heard while I was signed to a major label. During that time, I recorded many songs that never were released. I picked the best singles. I am still working with my team to decide which songs will be part of my next album.
P.T. Please talk to us about your new song “Love Alibi”: its theme, etc. In addition, what message do you wish to convey in your upcoming album Crazy Love Amplified? Is there a main theme or diverse topics? Moreover, who did you collaborate with on your new album?
D.B. The theme of “Love Alibi” is that love just is, you cannot justify it. In other words, it does not have a reason. “Love Alibi” has an up tempo feel to it. It is a happy song. It also conveys the message of not to having to fear expressing your love. The song “Crazy Love” concerns the rainbow of emotions people can feel in a relationship and how it is possible for two individuals to meet each other half way while making compromises. Actually, my entire upcoming LP will concern different aspects of love, so it will be a concept album. I believe that with everything going on in the world (a lot of confusion, anger…), we need to amplify love to help people remember the importance of caring for each other, to embrace humanity and life without being preachy.
I collaborated with the team of 80 Empire. In fact, I worked with them in the past. There are two guys: Lucas and Adrean Rezza. These brothers are a fantastic production group. Adrean takes care of the melody and lyrics. Lucas manages the musical production. They are hilarious and have good energy vibes. They are versatile producers and I want to work with people like them.
Crazy Love Amplified will showcase my diverse taste in music and influences. I believe my songs will attract people of all ages. In this regard, the public will discover my eclectic musical taste, my experiences, and my influences in my upcoming CD. My next album Crazy Love Amplified will be released in February 2017, specifically on Valentine Day. The single “Love Alibi” featuring 80 Empire will be on the market this fall.
P.T. Which CD of yours is the most autobiographical?
D.B. [Silence] That is a great question! All of them are autobiographical in some ways. The first one, given that it was the breakout, I had something to say. It was significant but not necessarily the most autobiographical. I had to start with the root and be a storyteller while sharing my thoughts with the masses.
P.T. Education is very important for our webmag. Can you name between one and three teachers who were influential for you and tell us why.
D. B. I can name Mrs. Margaret McGregor, my third-grade teacher. She was extremely influential to me because she constantly used music as a teaching tool. So, music was always incorporated into her class room. She played piano and used to teach us songs. This did not stop her from being academic and stern. She had high expectations for her students while making learning fun for us. She became one of the first teachers who made me realized how much I wanted to be a musician. She always organized performances around Christmas time and Easter. She was phenomenal in putting productions together such as musicals. I will always love her for that and I will continuously remember her.
P.T. You know, I think I will ask interviewees my last question more often in the future because I read an article today on Michelle Obama in Vogue magazine. She is on the cover for December 2016. She said that a school counselor told her she was not Princeton material (unfortunately, there are prejudiced and biased people who think that intelligence is based on where someone came from (social class…), ethnicity, etc. This mindset may translate into practicing and perpetuating systemic discrimination). The First Lady became the only one in the U.S. history to have two Ivy League degrees. I heard about what the counselor said to her before but it resonated more with me probably because I knew I would ask you a question later today about education.
D.B. Oh, really? Wow! It is so important for young people to be surrounded by people who believe in them especially for those who do not have support at home. You should definitely ask the question more often in the future. Education is extremely important to me and I remind my daughter of that on a regular basis. In addition, when I have the opportunity to talk to young students, I take it. I recognize that there are so-called teachers and counselors out there. Just as in Michelle Obama’s case, they may see the worst in a student and they won’t help them achieve or maximize their potential. This is detrimental and unacceptable. When a child expresses an interest and/or passion for any field, an educator has the obligation to fertilize that seed within the kid so it can flourish instead of destroying their dreams. Parents have the responsibility to do the same. I make sure as much as possible that my daughter is in a nurturing academic environment.
Brown singing at the Gala of Light fundraiser in support of Street Haven at the Crossroads” which gives services to homeless females in Toronto.
P.T. Is it important for you to be a socially conscious artist? If so, why?
D.B. Yes, definitely and I will not shy away from it. I do not have a problem to use my voice for speaking out. Sometimes with the media, we can become desensitized when we see so much negativity and I hope I will never get to that point. We can also feel powerless when watching these images. Personally, it happens that I feel overwhelmed with the negativity portrayed in the media on diverse themes. It can be frustrating, so you might have the tendency to turn off the television to do your own research and make your own conclusions. It is important for me to inject positivity into my music. It allows me to uplift the audience and advance issues that are crucial to me such as those related to womanhood. Artists possess the privilege to have a platform on a major scale to express and defend topics that are dear to us. In addition, I like to give my time and contribute to charitable causes. I did this in the past and I intend to pursue this.
D.B. Women’s tumors such as breast cancer are dear to me because I had family members and friends who were affected by them. Domestic violence is another female issue important to me. I was involved in charitable foundations which gave help to domestically violated women. These organizations provided services to them to rebuild their lives. Women need to believe that when they are ready to leave these violent situations, there are resources to support them at any age. They are not alone!
Heart disease is another issue which is dear to me. It is the leading cause of death for Canadian females. I went to the Heart Truth Fashion Show. It is important for me to support organizations which empower women and educate them about their health.
P.T. It seems that you did not lose your integrity in the music industry. Did the fact that you have a daughter play a part in your choices?
D.B. Yes, absolutely! If it does not feel right, I rather not be involved in a new project. I did not want to succumb to propositions if it did not adhere to where I was in my life, creatively, etc.
I would like to know as a journalist how you define integrity.
P.T. To respect your own values, beliefs and not submit or give in to external pressures that do not align with your principles while making you uncomfortable. In other words, I am talking about not following an agenda foreign to you.
D.B. Having a daughter definitely helped and had an impact on my decisions. I talk freely about things I want to express on-record in interviews, on my albums, etc. As mentioned, if something does not feel right, I just won’t do it or be involved in a project. I will not base my decisions solely on money. A genuine feeling is important to me in any project I embrace otherwise it will look fake or not real.
P.T. It is interesting that you asked me what integrity means to me because I think women for example, whether they like it or not, what they choose to do in the media, the fourth power or the fourth estate can shape the ideas in the society of what we are able to accomplish as a whole. If they choose for instance to stereotype themselves with the role that an actress will decide to play, there are people who might have a limitative opinion of what a woman can achieve. In other words, there will be consequences.
D.B. You make a valid point! We are way past what females were offered to do in the fifties but if some women decide to perpetuate stereotypes, the perception of our gender will not evolve. However, I know there are pressures especially for women to look a certain way and so on in the entertainment business. For me, it is important to be strong while respecting my boundaries. In my upcoming video “Love Alibi” I wear a T-shirt with the words: “rules are made to be broken” because I believe it is true. To be strong, you need to know and understand who you are while you stand in your truth. The rest of it does not matter as far as I am concerned. So, for me it is crucial to have the freedom to choose how I want to present myself to the world and not be dictated by a certain formula that I would be obligated to follow. It is definitely necessary to me to not compromise my values and integrity. I will not sacrifice my identity and so on.
P.T. How would you like to continue to grow as a songwriter and how does inspiration come to you (do you need to be in a quiet place, etc.)?
D.B. [Silence] This is a hard question to answer only because I am constantly evolving as an artist. I always have different ideas regarding how I should approach a project. I do not know right now how I will progress and how my next endeavor will sound like or what form it will take. It keeps things exciting and I like surprises. Everything does not necessarily have to be planned and I like giving room to contingencies. I am open to discover the direction that I will take in the future. I am pretty sure that I will find myself in a very different place when it will be time to be involved in a new project.
Inspirations come to me in various forms. Often melodies come to me when I first wake up. Sometimes, it can happen in the middle of the night, during a dream for instance. Occasionally, I feel I am able to wake up and record what was on my mind but other times I need to continue to sleep. Other times, I was too deep in the sleep and when I wake up the morning after I say to myself I wish I could remember that melody which was so amazing. I often think of tunes on my way to bed or when I wake up. It frequently changes. I need to add that I love to collaborate with other people. I believe my best inspirations emerged from that rich process. So, the best work that I have done was in an environment with collaborators while we exchange ideas.
P.T. How do you assess your evolution as an artist throughout the years?
D.B. Wow! It is not easy for me to answer this because I am more in a moment person. I never really sat down and analyzed my evolution. I feel that it is more the job of other people to do it or interpret my creativity. However, I could say that I believe my projects reflect exactly where I was at the time in my life. I feel that I will continue to grow as an artist and I will always have new things to bring to the table. I do not wish to reach any plateaus. Like most entertainers, I do not think that I will be completely satisfied. There will always be the feeling that I aim to achieve something. I need to add that I like challenges and self-growth is important to me. I definitely want to perfect my skills as a guitarist.
P.T. How about the power of your vocal range? Did you always have five octaves or was there some progress after you started singing professionally?
D.B. I always had the five octaves since the beginning of my singing lessons at the age of fourteen. Nevertheless, my voice evolved in term of control. In other words, the endurance of my voice increased throughout the years. I understand my vocal sound more now. I learned how to master it and make it work in specific ways when it is required.
P.T. You said to the media that the music industry has changed very significantly during the last twenty years in Canada. Can you elaborate on that?
D.B. I was speaking more from the perspective of the relationships between labels and artists. It changed significantly. We also saw a big transformation in sales. Before, we had solely physical albums such as tapes and vinyls, after we saw CDs, MP3s, iTunes, streaming albums and so on. The rules for royalties are not the same. The 360 deal did not really exist decades ago or it was not prevalent. Because of all this, it changed the relationship between record companies and artists. The latter can have more control on their creativity as independents because of the tremendous progress of technology. Artists have now the latitude to market their material and let their fans know about it. We are able to nurture and grow our fan base via Twitter, etc. Entertainers can become more empowered thanks to technology during our digital era and they have access to a bigger platform. In addition, we are exposed to a wider scope of music which allow us to be influenced more by different musical genres.
P.T. You told the media that it was a huge transition to operate independently as an artist. Can you elaborate on that? Since when have you been on your own?
D.B. Technically, I became independent last summer. I cut ties with Universal early this year. And then, I left an indie label at the beginning of last summer. For me, the transition has been interesting and really exciting. Even before, I was on my own between labels. When I followed my instincts, magical things occurred as a result. So now, I can utilize what I learned over the years including the trials and errors with the labels. If I was under a record company right now, we would be having a very different conversation. I enjoy my experience and I am really happy because I have total control on my creativity. This freedom is crucial for me as an artist. As independents, we have a more direct access to fans. With the new technologies, we can be influenced by past and current music all over the world like never before and this is really stimulating in our creativity as independents. It gives us more freedom in our artistry.
P.T. Do you mind sharing your future projects with us?
D.B. Again I am more an in a moment person. I do not really plan things in advance. However, I can mention that next year I will be part of the musical “Passing Strange” (which won a Tony Award in 2008 and Spike Lee filmed the musical on Broadway the same year). The story is about an African-American teenager who leaves Los Angeles for European cities such as Berlin because he wishes to learn more about himself while he looks for a place that feels like home.
P.T. Thanks for your generosity in this interview and I wish you a lot more success!
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