Catch A Groove - How would you describe your music?
Fayth - My music is a combination of soul and spoken word with playful nuances of hip hop, jazz, and alternative. But in a nutshell, it’s life music…life as I’ve experienced it. When it comes to matters of spirituality, relationships, personal introspection, and mental health (the things I mainly write), not only do I look to my experiences as inspiration but also to the experiences of my friends/family. For the most part though, it’s all Fayth—past, present, and the future I envision for myself.
Catch A Groove - Who are your influences?
Fayth - I’ll start with the genres first because it’s the sounds that inspires me. I love jazz music. I’ve loved it ever since 1999 when I first tuned in to WCLK Atlanta, the radio station of my Alma Mater Clark Atlanta University. Growing up my dad always played smooth jazz, but the “straight ahead” jazz is what really got my ears burning. Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement” from A Love Supreme was one of the first tunes I heard on that station and from there on I was hooked on jazz, and it comes across in some of my phrasing and melodies.
Next on the stop…hip hop. Being a child of the 80s and 90s, I’m drawn to hip hop—the real stuff, not that shit people claim is hip hop nowadays because it’s not. It’s rap, plain and simple. I mean, even Mother Goose can bust a rhyme, but I’ll get off the soap box now lol. With hip hop, it’s the head-nodding rhythms, the funk/soul/jazz samples, the cadences, the vibe and drive of the music that does it for me. Some of my best days as a hip hop fan were from the late 80s to the early 2000s. I constantly shared my finding with my friends growing up, particularly the guys since I typically was the lone female in my peer group who dug and knew hip hop as I did. Although I am rooted in soul, hip hop has a strong presence in my music, which leads me to soul music. I really feel I was born late because 70s soul and funk has been my thing since age 11 (thanks in part to my older sister Joy and a friend of hers at that time). I was turned on to Curtis Mayfield, Earth Wind & Fire, The Isley Brothers, just to name a few. So while my friends were bumping The Chronic and Doggie Style (which I was too), I was bumping old school soul and funk. Funny thing though, although I grew up in a household where soul music and R&B played constantly I couldn’t sing with some “soul” until later life…when I truly went through some struggles.
As for artists, I’m mainly influenced by Nancy Wilson, J Dilla, John Coltrane, Erykah Badu, Curtis Mayfield, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Robert Glasper, and Roy Ayers to name a few…the STRONG few. I can easily get lost for days in their catalogs. And it’s always exciting to stumble upon music from them that I haven’t heard, kind of like getting a chance to hear them for the first time all over again. I take pieces from all of these artists/genres and combine them in a nice little gumbo. But at the base, or the roux since we’re using the gumbo analogy, is Fayth. James Mtume said it best: in the creative process you go through three basic stages…imitation, emulation, and innovation. As first level novices, we imitate those we are most influenced by. In the emulation stage we are still under the guidance of our influences but we start to develop our own personal nuances, our own voice. And if we are so blessed to arrive at the final stage as innovators, no longer are we junior versions of our influences, we become influences and can stand firmly as artists in our own light and create and/or add on to sounds, trends, and styles. As for me, I feel as if I’m just now getting my feet wet in the emulation stage…which is a far cry from where I was 3 years ago. So there you have it!
Catch A Groove - Not only do you have a great voice, your songwriting is superb as well. How long have you been singing and writing?
Fayth - Thanks for compliment! I’m glad you dig it, because I really do put a lot of thought and effort into my songwriting. I’ve been singing since age 4. It all started when I wanted to join the church choir. Note: this wasn’t like a Baptist church choir like Whitney and other greats grew up in, I was raised Presbyterian; totally different vibe, very toned down and uber traditional. From that I began singing on the playground in Catholic school which led to talent shows and eventually classical training, recitals, matriculation at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and other performances in college at Clark Atlanta University (solo and choral), spanning from age 11 all the way to 21 or 22. Now during this time, despite being heavily involved in music and accustomed to performing in front of people, I was scared to death of how people viewed me. I thought I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t measure up to the other big voices around me. But at 27 when I began organizing and promoting events in the arts community of Augusta, that fear left as I started to perform on my events regularly. When I saw that I people actually dug what I was doing, I began to grow my wings as a performer and became less concerned with all of the other nonsense that plagued my spirit for years. I still battle with those thoughts of inadequacy, but from time to time God throws me some confirmation that I am on the right path and that I need to stay one it.
The writing came in response to being afraid to sing. Around age 10 I began dibbling and dabbling with short stories and poems and realized that I had a talent for it and, most importantly, I enjoyed the imaginative process involved. There’s nothing like being able to see the physical embodiment of your words and thoughts. But unfortunately I used writing as a way to hide from people. Because I felt so uncomfortable singing for all those years, I his behind the pages of my writing. For some reason I thought that people were less critical of me as a writer. But when started to blend singing and writing and penned my first song at age 14 (which, by the way, I still remember it word for word; that was back during the time of Total and early Brandy, and you could tell by how I wrote during that period lol), it seemed as if I gained a little more confidence in my singing…but not enough to take me over that hump of fear. My writing was further honed in high school and college from both a creative and academic standpoint. I became increasingly more critical and deliberate about how I put words and phrases together, which is owed to my 11th grade American Literature teacher, Vickie Abernathy, who bled red ink all over my essays with markings such as “DIG DEEPER!” and “SYNTAX”. I made so many D’s and F’s in that class to the point where I jumped for joy over a C. Sometimes I still see phantom red marks in my compositions, just kidding (smile).
Catch A Groove - What's the significance of the ep title "Out of Obscurity, Pt. 1: From the Darkness…"?
Fayth - The title of the EP came by happenstance. Initially, I was going to name it something like “Soulflower” but I figured that was such an obvious cliché. So I stopped thinking about it, because the harder I thought about it the more God-awful ideas I came up with (smile). One day I was on my blog writing an entry and I looked at the title of the blog, which is “The Beautiful Experience”. I thought that would be a great name, but low and behold, that’s the title of one of Prince’s albums and I didn't want to be under that shadow. There was another point in time where I was working on my blog and inspiration finally hit me. The EP title had been there the entire time, right before my eyes! The tagline of my blog reads “The online chronicle of an indie singer/songwriter’s rise out of obscurity”. And I said to myself, “That’s it! Out of Obscurity! Because it’s true…no one really knows me and I’m coming out of obscurity.” As for the subtitle, “From the Darkness…”, I was in the midst of a very dark time in my life during the production of the EP. To tell the truth, I’m not all the way out of the woods but I am starting to see the light. The EP is full of tales of destitute, uncertainty, and hopelessness. But the way I delivered these songs vocally, it dressed up a lot of the pain I was feeling at that time. People have sent me messages about the content of the couple of the songs saying how it helped them through trials or how it was a reflection of their own personal stories. And that right there is what I want for my music: for people to be able to hear and relate with it and be comforted in knowing that they are not alone.
Catch A Groove - What was the inspiration behind "Truly Deeply, Madly"?
Fayth - (Smirking) Bad relationships. This song isn't about one person in particular but a composite of various past relationships as I was growing up. As a teenager/young adult, I had a habit of falling in love too hard and too fast. Being that I am a Cancer, sensuality and emotionality are my natural driving forces at the core. This combination created the perfect storm for heartbreak. There were times where I felt deeply for a person and they didn’t necessarily feel that deeply for me…although they engaged in the “song and dance” as if they did. So I learned the hard way that I have to guard my heart and my love energy, not give it away so carelessly. You must first know and be deeply in love with yourself for anything else worthwhile to take place, which is the basic underpinning of the song.
Catch A Groove - Another favorite of mine is "Love Didn't Mean a Thing". What's the story behind that record?
Fayth - It’s the story of how my husband and I became “us”. Although we knew each other in high school, we didn't start dating until college when I arrived at Clark Atlanta and he was already at Morehouse preparing to start classes at Georgia Tech (he’s an engineer, a helluva engineer lol). When we reconnected, he had just lost his father over the Christmas break and I had just weathered through a very personal storm of my own, mainly stemming from ill-fated relationships. We were both very brokenhearted at that time and we came together as old friends coaching each other through the rough patch. We always had a good time with each other, even stayed on the phone for 3 hours at a time (smile). He looked out for me and always had my best interests in mind, which was very different from all of the other self-serving bastards I had encountered up to that point. Yeah, the scorn and bitterness is real! But we nursed each other back to health emotionally. We began dating Spring of 1999, got married in 2003 and have been going ever since. By the way, I wrote this song on acoustic guitar in 2005. That was the first and last time I used it lol. I guess it fulfilled its purpose, which was to give birth to this beautiful piece of music. And I and still very proud of my creation.
Catch A Groove - Name a song that you love and wished that you wrote yourself?
Fayth - “Out My Mind Just in Time” by Erykah Badu. It’s so deep, it’s so me—musically and contextually. As you hear in my music, I am a fan of separate and distinct movements and sections. Erykah does the same thing in many of her songs. I feel this gives a lot of life and character to the music. We as humans go through changes, so why can’t the music have changes? I understand that there are songs that only require loops, and many of these songs are banging! But, since I do have a classical background, I am very familiar with the ideology of musical works have multiple movements. And I’m happy to have a producer (Dose) also shares the same affinity for sections and movements and changes. Ms. Badu killed and slayed on “Out My Mind” and so did Georgia Anne Muldrow as the main producer of the joint. Both the vocals and production are so raw and honest. And like the story behind “Truly Deeply Madly”, Badu also allude to the same challenges with love: being an “over-lover”. Yep, I would have to say we are kindred spirits in that matter.
Catch A Groove - You mentioned two of my favorite artists: Badu and Georgia Anne. They both embody a level of spirituality in their music. What do you admire about those two?
Fayth - They are raw and organic, deep, linked into a higher consciousness...and they are badass musicians lol! There was something in Erykah that I never had seen before at the time that she first arrived on the scene and it really struck a chord with me. And when I saw her perform live for the first time on BET's "Video Soul" I fell in love with her. I had candles lit and incense burning during that broadcast. I was in the zone, and that was a new feeling for me...and I liked it. Badu is not afraid to change and evolve artistically whereas a lot of artists try to hold the line to keep fans. And through her musical evolution, she has exposed fans to other like-minded and equally dope artists, one of them being Georgia Anne Muldrow. I first found out about Muldrow through "Master Teacher". I was like "Who is that?! Sounds like someone who could have been singing on the picket lines of the Civil Right Movement or with the Black Panthers. That's that old soul!" I read the song credits and saw that she also produced the joint and instantly became a fan. She's not afraid to write and sing about the ugliness and pain of life, and you can FEEL it come through the music. And her production?! Bananas! To me she's like The Oracle from "The Matrix", Erykah too. They are purveyors of thought and sound on a soul-deep level and they speak to my soul.
Catch A Groove - Does writng about past experiences help heal the wounds? Does music provide comfort, healing?
Fayth - Quite honestly, it doesn't totally help to heal the wounds but it does help me to cope with the unfortunate things I've been through. By writing about these experiences, I'm able to release the negative some of the energy associated with the experience which is, in essence, the first step to healing--getting it out in the open. Music does have the ability to heal, comfort, and rejuvenate. And it appears some of my listeners have found comfort and healing in some of my music, particularly the songs "Faith" and "Afrobella's Ballad". I've had people writing to me saying that those songs really helped them through their own trials and made them feel as if they weren't alone in their struggles. That's BIG! Gives what I do even more meaning. These occurrences do make sense though since I am a counselor on my day job. I'm helping people through both my chosen profession and my God-given profession.
Catch A Groove - Are you working on any new material?
Fayth - YES! And I am so excited about what’s cooking! I am working on “Out of Obscurity, Pt. 2:…Into the Light”. My producer Dose has sent me a number of songs to meditate and write to…and they are simply banging! He produced the majority of Pt. 1, so knows me even better now and is able to build and suggest things for me that fit my artistic vision. We are a team and we can relate with each because we have similar tastes in music. Another reason why we work so well together is because he is not a typical producer. He approaches his music the way an artist would…and I honor and appreciate that.
Also in the works is a trans-Atlantic collaboration with a group of young cats who attend the Leeds College of Music in England. We became acquainted through a DJ/promoter I met on Facebook named Lubi who is now pretty much acting as my overseas agent for the time being. The guys, called Stop Motion Trio, are influenced by the likes of Herbie Hancock, J Dilla, Robert Glasper, Badu, and so many other artists that I also happen to dig. I love their sound and I’m glad to be able to incorporate it on this next installment of “Obscurity”.
Catch A Groove - Any plans to tour?
Fayth - Indeed! I am visiting the UK this May and I will do a few select dates and appearances. I will finally get a chance to perform with Stop Motion Trio and bring our music to the stage. Unfortunately, since I am still in the process of breaking out as an artist, performance opportunities aren't flowing my way as freely as I wish. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been sitting on my butt waiting for a miracle to happen; I've been sending music and booking inquiries to different venues and promoters who specialize in my type of music. I've had some hits, and I've had some misses. Hopefully that will turn around for me in 6 months to a year. Other than that, I’m concentrating on writing and recording Pt. 2. That’s the best I can do for this down time. But I do pray that I will be seeing a lot more of the road in the near future.