FeminINDIE Artist: Deborah J
Deborah J is a triple threat who brings her heart to the table when it comes to her music. On her debut EP, Fly; this songstress delivers a dose of hip/hop, a dash of R&B, with just a smidge of singer/songwriter to create an album that may remind some of a young Lauren Hill. Being “transparent” and having nothing to hide is what sets her apart from many artists out there, and will resonate with all who appreciate honest, organic music.
After enjoying the album I had some questions to ask Miss Deborah J, and she was kind enough to indulge me. What follows is the interview. Read on and come see why she is FeminINDIE.
First off let me start by saying congratulations for making it into our FeminINDIE competition! How did you feel when you found out you were part of the 30 chosen from the over 3,700 that submitted their music to us?
It’s refreshing to be recognized for the work you’ve done, to have the love, time and talent invested in something valued by another. I was taken off guard in a pleasant way.
Give the readers of Wordkrapht a little insight into who Deborah J is and when music first came into your life.
I’m the girl next door who is the type you’d find with her nose in a book or pen in her hand. Poetry came to me before singing. I’m a writer by nature, but in my early teens I wanted to do more with that writing; I longed to be heard. I was timid, so the process of making that a reality terrified me. Still the reward outweighed the risk, and I dove into talent shows and performances.
How did the early performances and talent shows go? Did you find yourself coming out of your shell once you got on stage?
In my earlier days of performing, between 12 and 17, I was absolutely terrified each time I faced the mic. It was the oddest thing because it was what I wanted, but my fear seemed to defeat me to the point where I’d only give part of myself to the listeners. There were no butterflies in my stomach. It was absolute panic consistently. It got so bad that I determined around 18-years-old that I was kidding myself.
“Fly” is your latest release, and features a little bit of hip/hop, soul and singer/song-writer elements, and you seemed to handle each genre with plenty of ease and grace. How was the process of recording the songs on the album?
You know, I wanted the project to have more music on it. However, I discovered at the start of recording I was pregnant. I already had three hour studio sessions booked that I trudged through nauseous and hardly able to stand. I feared I’d miss my deadline because of how particular I am. In June, 2013, I was challenged to create the album in time for a show in New York in September of 2013. I was determined after the speaker at one of my gigs in Maryland told me I was in essence being selfish by never releasing a project because I felt it just wasn’t up to par. She said, “You’ve got people waiting to hear what you’ve got to say.”.
So listening to the album now, how do you feel about the songs? Do you feel that sense of accomplishment, and completion?
When I listen now, I feel thankful that I finally buckled down and produced a product that is honest, personal and hopefully inspiring. “Fly” is very authentic in that it contains lyrics written and performed exactly as they appeared on my heart. There’s no way I could be disappointed in that transparency.
The overall theme of the album is overwhelmingly positive. We are big fans of music with meaning. Would you like to one day see yourself as a role model to young women (or do you already consider yourself one?)
I believe I am a mentor to several teen girls I once worked with as a youth worker between 2011-2013. I talk with them, encourage them and watch them grow and excel in life. They don’t know just how much their influence has played a role in the content of some of those songs. I want to see great things from them and all young women who face struggles as I did but are determined to keep pushing and see their dreams through to the end.
That is such a wonderful way to help! Where did you work as a youth worker? Do you still keep in touch with the teens you worked with?
I worked at Martha’s Table in Northwest Washington DC teaching multimedia skills. There are a hand full of young ladies I still keep in touch with and check on frequently. Students come to my events; they support me as much as I support them. When my daughter was born, they all were texting me to check on me and of course requested pictures. I really care a lot for them.
Being an independent artist can be extremely challenging, every aspect of your career is in your hands. What is the most important thing you’ve learned that you want to share with aspiring artists out there?
Your relationships are extremely important as an indie artist. I’m by nature an introvert, but I have learned to cultivate business relationships in order to connect dots that would otherwise go untapped. It’s necessary to learn to communicate with others and share resources, barter.
Lastly, during interviews we like to ask artists what the term “indie” means to them. In this case, I would like to ask if you could give the term “FeminINDIE” a definition, what would it mean to you?
FeminINDIE – the pouring of feminine energy over the ice that is art to sweeten the pitcher and turn up the flavor
I love it!! Great definition!
Are there any events or shows coming up that our readers should know about?
Next month will be my return to the stage after my daughter’s birth. I haven’t performed since December. I will perform at the DC Cherry Blossom Festival on April 11and then on April 26 I will do a closing concert for a stage play being put on by Bleu Royalty Ent. I’m looking forward to hitting the stage and making those connections through music.
Artist Name: Deborah J
Location: Hyattsville, MD
Members: Deborah J