Jazzy/soul singer Maysa is not new to the game. At age six, she knew she wanted to sing after her mother took her to see a production of “Purlie” starring Melba Moore. The Baltimore native followed that dream to a degree in classical performance from Morgan State University and a chance meeting with Stevie Wonder.
That led to a stint as part of Wonder’s famed Wonderlove background group and eventually to becoming the lead singer of Incognito, the popular U.K. based jazz/funk/R&B ensemble, appearing on nine releases and moving to London for four and a half years.
By 1995, Maysa was ready for her own CD and has since released 9 solo albums, including 2011’s “Motions In Love,” which Wonder guest starred on. On the eve of releasing her 10th solo project, “Blue Velvet Soul,” we caught up with Maysa to get some insight on her life and music.
Blackamericaweb.com: This release was conveniently scheduled during Black Music Month. Why this project and why now?
Maysa: This is my 10th solo studio project and when they first approached me to do another one, I wasn’t really ready because my mother passed away last August. She was my best friend in the whole world, so I really didn’t have any music. I wasn’t feeling anything. I was quite numb for a long time so I told them I wasn’t ready to do this one. There were a lot of obstacles and blockages I had to fight through to get this record done. But God always seems to bless my music. This time I tried to let go and let the chips fall where they may and it came out good. I think it’s one of my best records so far.
You have almost 25 years in the business and have worked with some great people. Since it’s Black Music Month, what can you tell us about Stevie Wonder?
The first time I met him he brought out in me the kind of perfectionist vibe that my parents instilled in the first place. When you work with Stevie Wonder, you don’t want to be mediocre. You don’t want to half-ass anything. He’s just top-notch. I remember signing on “Jungle Fever” and in that first session for “These Three Words,” I was so worried about my note because I was the new kid on the block. I was practicing my note and I heard Stevie saying “Maysa, you got it, stop worrying about it, you got it!”
You also worked with Incognito, one of the major groups of contemporary jazz. What was that experience like?
It was incredible. I’ve been around the world 3 or 4 times with them. It’s just been amazing. They travel on a consistent, constant basis. I can’t do it anymore. I have to stay home and take care of my son. But just to be exposed to different cultures, it was unbelievable. When you get onstage in different countries and people are singing every word of your songs, that was amazing to me. But that’s what music does.
What do you want your fans new and old to know about this project?
Well, this record is not jazz-influenced at all. I do a little bit of scatting here and there. Most of my records have had a jazz influence. But I find myself leaning more towards R&B music right now and doing it the old school way. R&B, soul music and funk music is in my spirit, it’s in my soul, in my DNA.
Some people want me to go back strictly to my jazz roots, but I’m definitely not there anymore. For people who don’t know my music, I think this record has enough variety on it to reach many people. I try to do my best to do records that are seamless.
I would never do a record with a filler song. Every record I do is carefully planned out with a theme or thought in mind. I hope everybody can find something in this music that is helpful to their life or makes them happy or helps them from a sad time to a happy time. That’s all I want to do in life. That’s my job.
Buy Blue Velvet Soul” here.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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