Tell us about your song It Was Good and the inspiration for it?
The song was co-written with Glenn Lavender and Leslie Jordan and is based on the poem “Creation,” by James Weldon Johnson, who also wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Johnson became the national organizer for the NAACP in 1920 and edited the Book of American Negro Poetry, a major contribution to the history of African American literature. The song, like the poem, simply focuses on the beauty in the world, and what a gift it is to be alive and living on this planet.
You are working on a new album—any collaborations on it? Where is it being recorded?
Am I working on a new record? Hell, I dunno what's unfolding but I can say I am writing songs that feel like there is a common thread. So perhaps a 3rd record is inevitable. I am working with some trusted poets, writers, musicians that I've met over the years. That shall be revealed soon.
When did you move from Oregon to Brooklyn and how did that influence your music choices?
I moved from Portland, OR three years ago, October 2016. I think living in Brooklyn has allowed me to figure out who I am when I am not in routine and "security." I don't know if BK has changed my musical style but I am learning how to be a better business owner and find my voice.
"I went to film school. I wanted to be a director/producer/writer. I use all three in music when it comes to writing songs, choosing bandmates, and creating a space for those who come to listen to me sing."
You are often called a storyteller at heart—do you agree with that? How would you define your music?
I do agree that I am a storyteller. I think all of us are. I hope that my songs reflect a story either from the past, present, or future.
You were working in film and videos before the music—what were you involved in then?
I went to film school. I wanted to be a director/producer/writer. I use all three in music when it comes to writing songs, choosing bandmates, and creating a space for those who come to listen to me sing. No matter the number, I want everyone to feel like they're sitting in their living room by the fire while a story is being told.
Do you enjoy the writing process?
Hmm. I feel like I still have a long way to go. I have realized that sometimes my songs can only be completed with other writers because I have a tendency to get locked into an idea and it's nice to have someone else kind of help you complete a thought or point to a storyline or word that you did not consider because you were stuck behind a wall of overthinking.
You tour a lot—how is your summer going?
I do tour a lot. Not as much as I have in the past and I'm thankful. This summer was about writing and living life. It's going well. Just getting to know my neighborhood better.
Who do you currently listen to these days?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music; Lizzo, TriOrca, Eccelsia, Joseph, Sylvan Esso, Missy Elliot, 1975 just depends on the day.
What can you tell us about your experience performing at Mavis Staple’s 80th Birthday at the Apollo alongside David Byrne, Norah Jones, Jon Batiste, Warren Haynes and more?
Well, one, when I got invited to Mike Taylor, I just said yes because I enjoy singing with people. Didn't realize the lineup for Ms Staple's birthday until the day before. There were many times where I wondered "how the hell did I get invited to this?!?" It was an honor to just be able to be a spectator and be around so many great musicians and see the spunk and energy of Ms Staples was just... I don't even have the words. Then to step out on the stage and sing for a sold-out show at the Apollo; it's just mind blowing.
What can we expect from your performance at the Standard, East Village, as part of the Annie O Music series?
I have no idea what to expect at this show. Each show makes me feel like
I've never done it before because each audience is different. What I want is to
allow people to leave more encouraged than when they arrived.