Looking Through The Darkness
By: Todd Davis
First heard providing her lush, soulful background vocals to "Election Day," a thought provoking track from the multi-platinum, Grammy nominated Nappy Roots' collective, now, sexy singing sensation, Sabrina, is finally readying the release of her very own, eagerly awaited, solo debut, No Rose Petals & Bubblebaths...
When did you first fall in love with music?
Motown and all the music
of the '50's and '60's were a major part of my upbringing. It still gives
me chills when I listen to it. They really don't make music like that anymore.
It was so pure and simple; no limited gimmicks or special effects to camouflage.
It was full of soul; timeless. There is no expiration date on The Supremes,
Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder...It's a feeling that will live
forever. And, Elvis was probably one of the first words that came out of my
mouth as a baby. Our house was completely saturated with his music. As a kid,
I went through a severe Elvis phase. When other girls' rooms were decorated
with pink and purple flowers and plastered with New Kids on the Block posters,
mine was covered from floor to ceiling in vinyl records, miniature jukeboxes
and memorabilia from my trip to Graceland.They would bring pet hamsters in
for show-and-tell, and I would bring special edition Coke bottles with Elvis'
face printed on them. It was major! I would've been about ten years old when
I first saw the Lauryn Hill scene in Sister Act 2, the scene where she's sitting
at the piano singing "His Eye is on the Sparrow." I would rewind
that part over and over. Her voice was so chilling and beautiful, but raw
in all the right places. It just spoke to me. I got the soundtrack and would
practice it over and over, but I couldn't even come close. I was so focused
on how I sounded and afraid of what everyone else would think that I didn't
put any feeling into my music. Also, I was extremely shy, especially about
singing. Now, people often ask me, "Where do you get all that soul?"
You know, probably because I'm white and they don't expect it. But, it wasn't
until I started going through some very painful things in my life that the
"soul" started to come out in my music. So, it was a journey for
me to find that feeling, and there is definite experience behind every raise,
lick and drop in my voice.
I grew up in northern
Indiana, near Michigan, and just a short drive from Chicago.
Well, because I learned
the hard way from trying to force feeling into my music when I was younger,
I don't try to fit into a certain category or genre of music. If I do try
to do that, it just throws me off. If I say to myself, "People say I'm
soulful, so I've got to make sure I put a lot of soul into this song,"
I'll just end up sounding like another wack-job wannabe. Like another one
trying to fake it, a Christina Aguilera -- All technical, but no feeling.
Made. Michael Jackson talked about that. About going to shows and watching
dancers who he could actually see counting steps in their heads, and trying
to be so technically perfect during their routine. He would say, "You
can't dance like that, you've got to feel the music with your body."
So, what I do is, when I get new music, I put my headphones on, close my eyes,
and feel the music. Whatever feeling, style, or lyric that comes to mind,
I jot it down. I usually get a vibe instantly and a general idea of where
to go with it, but sometimes it takes a couple of hours to really shake off
the day, lose myself, and just get into the music. Sometimes it's easier than
other times. Like when I first got the track for "No Rose Petals &
Bubblebaths," I was so blown away by the production and the vibe of the
music that I just lost myself in it, instantly. It's still my favorite song
that we've done so far, and I'm excited about the video for it, which has
the girl from Twilight in it, Nikki Reed.
I never thought I was
good enough to sing professionally, not even close. I didn't know, because
I never put myself out there. I never wanted to chase fame or be in the public
eye. It was like pulling teeth to get me to sing at a wedding or funeral.
I was so afraid to make a fool of myself. I wanted to be Martha Stewart. Not
literally, of course, but all I wanted was to have a family and attempt to
one-up all the other wives by making the perfect turkey at the holidays, and
dressing to the nines just to walk to the mailbox. As embarrassing as it is,
I used to collect Martha Stewart magazines, and rip out recipes and organizing
tips. I had this perfect picture in my head of what I wanted my life to be
like. Now I think about that, and it seems so lame. I got married young, and
saw my perfect picture coming together. But, it didn't exactly go that way.
It wasn't until after my divorce that I decided to pursue music seriously.
It just kind of fell into my lap, and I went with the flow. Some would say
that my desire to chase music was the reason my marriage fell apart, but that's
not true. I turned to music when my expectations for an amazing life began
to crumble. Now my whole outlook is different. I enjoy every minute I can
steal with my little nephew and my nieces, and every opportunity I have with
my family. But, I am so thankful to God for knowing that my future wasn't
going to be sound with the man I married, and it wasn't time for me then to
start a family of my own. After much healing and restoration, I feel like
I have the best of both worlds right now. I've got music in my right hand,
and an unbounded future in my left.
Well, (my publicist) Jonathan
Hay gave me the Nappy Roots' track for "Election Day," and asked
if I wanted to feature on it. Of course I jumped at the opportunity! When
does a small town girl from Indiana get a chance to feature with a Grammy-nominated
group like the Nappy Roots? I'm very thankful for the opportunity. The song
ended up hitting every major website, and led to some other great projects
as well. Like future work with Big V from the group. As far as Universal goes,
technically, it's through Hoopla Media Group/LRT Music Group, with their distribution
through InGrooves and Universal. There's a big team involved. And with this
situation, it's really cool because I did a four-single deal with them, which
is "They Don't Know What I've Been Through," a remix of "They
Don't Know What I've Been Through," with Tha Chill from Compton's Most
Wanted, "No Rose Petals & Bubblebaths," and "I Jump, You
Jump," Produced by Focus.
Well, like I mentioned
earlier, I had that picture-perfect life scenario playing out in my head,
and that's what I expected when I got married so young. I expected rose petals,
I expected bubblebaths, metaphorically speaking. Before long, things started
to slide and everything got flipped upside-down. It seemed like everything
went south at once, just one thing after another. I even lost a little baby
girl during that time, my little cousin, who was very special to me. So, No
Rose Petals & Bubblebaths represents the devastation I was feeling in
the aftermath of all of those events. When life isn't sugar-coated, it's just
raw and unlike anything you expected. We all go through periods of time like
that, and I'm thankful that I've moved out of that darkness and despair now.
But, I wanted my album to reflect those feelings.The music is flawed and we
left some of the mistakes in there, intentionally, but there's a beauty in
it, I think.
I'm doing some work in
Canada with Paul Katsnelson and Jack Shapira, so I'm getting ready to go up
there for several weeks and I'm excited. There's work from Tha Chill from
Compton's Most Wanted, The Thorotracks, Ant Banks, Focus..., Big V from Nappy
Roots' production team called King of da Beatz. I'm also demoing some tracks
for Mike Mosely, so we'll see where that goes. There's one producer in particular
who I am super excited to work with, but I don't want to mention his name
until all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. To work with him would
be a dream come true, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It just keeps growing
and expanding every day.
Yes, there are definitely
some special cameos to look out for, especially the ones I mentioned earlier.
But, I also don't want to overwhelm it with features either, because the album
is so personal to me and I want it to be a representation of my life. I don't
want it to get lost in translation. I think an artist can acutally lose their
identity when they have too many big features on their album. There's been
a monsoon of that lately, don't you think? I've also got Shabaam Sahdeeq on
a song called "I Heart NY," who's an underground legend and has
worked with Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Eminem. We leaked the demo to 2DopeBoyz,
but we're working on the final version now. I love it!
God, period. I've gone
through enough darkness to know that He is the key to everything.
I have a huge passion
for the prisons, and my friends locked up behind bars. My heart really goes
out to them, which is part of the reason I wrote "They Don't Know What
I've Been Through." I talk about being a "concrete connoisseur,"
you know, someone who is just so used to staring at the concrete walls around
them that they actually become an expert of the material itself. It's got
a double meaning, obviously. But, I think people just lock them up and forget
about them, or toss them off to the side as garbage. But, they are people
who've made mistakes, and they need to be shown love the most. I would love
to do a prison tour like Johnny Cash, just shake up the whole frickin' system.
Well, on one hand, I think
the creativity is exploding in some aspects, like costumes and stage performances.
But, on the other hand, I'm very disappointed in the level that some female
artists are taking it to. Like it seems (they) think they have to be more
and more sexual to sell their music. The thing is, you can only get so naked.
Naked is naked, it gets boring after a while. So you're limiting yourself.
Some people may disagree, but ask yourself this, "Who do you respect
more, Lauryn Hill or Rihanna? Alicia Keys or Lady Gaga?" The ones who
keep their clothes on, for the most part, seem to gain more respect as artists.
I think my greatest quality
is having my mom's sensitive heart. But, it's hard to define myself because
I'm so wacked in the head. I'm just completely all over the place, never the
same thing twice. I'm a constant contradiction: I'm rude, sweet, loud, shy,
I talk too much, and express too little. Sometimes I'm brilliant, but I run
into walls. I can't, I just can't. It's too hard to define this kind of circus.
Right now, we're really
focusing on the singles. I've got a lot of creative things planned, and I've
got good friends like DJ Rip, the VP of the Core DJs, who's helping me out.
The lead single is "They Don't Know What I've Been Through," and
it's out and available on iTunes. But, I'm really excited to work with Tha
Chill from Compton's Most Wanted. You know, he's worked with Snoop, MC Eiht,
MC Ren, Ice Cube, and those big west coast legends. But, for those who are
very familiar with his work, they're really gonna be surprised to see what
we've got going on, because it's such a dramatic change from his typical style.
The video is "No Rose Petals & Bubblebaths," which is a combo
of behind-the-scenes clips from the movie Last Day of Summer, starring Nikki
Reed from Twilight and DJ Qualls. As far as touring, we are going to do a
sick, never-been-done, first-time-ever, Neil-Armstrong-walking-on-the-moon,
Digital Internet Tour...Definitely more to come on that.
If we can pull off this
tour the way we want, it's going to be a lot like watching the future. But,
the people who are putting this together are big-time stoners, you see, so
we'll see if they can pull themselves out of bed and off the tree for long
enough to make it happen. * Sabrina laughs* I think it sounds like a great
idea, and I'm not high.
Is there anything else
that I may have left out or forgot to ask about?
I think I clicked "refresh" on TMZ's homepage just in time to see the breaking news come through. I was just absolutely shocked. I felt so sad, not only because of our loss, but because of the tremendous pain he must have felt while he was here on earth. And then his life was just...Over, just like that. I know he had a great life and he gave us so much, but also it had to be so hard for him dealing with all of the accusations and the pointing fingers -- The media was so cruel to him! I really realized that after he was gone, looking back on some of his old interviews. I think his death made us all realize that no one is invincible. I'm not sure what it means for the future of recorded music, but I know that, in one way or another, almost every artist has taken a piece of him and incorporated it into their lives, whether it was a piece of advice, a dance step, or a lyric.
Nicely put! Any message
you want to relay to our readers?
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