MAIYSHA / Maiysha Mixtape
What’s a woman to do?
To put it crudely, but not inaccurately, young, black women trying to make it in today’s 21st century music business are dimes a dozen. Each one tries somehow to distinguish one’s self from other the other selves who equally trying to distinguish themselves, ad infinitum. So like if everybody is trying to be different, doesn’t that like make everybody kind of alike?
Plus, beyond the hustle to outpace the pack, there is the conflicting need to be popular, to sell, to attract mass attention. It helps to appeal to tastes that have been shaped by commercialism, which invariably means checking off boxes on popularity lists: look a certain way, sing with the right mix of beats and gospel fervor (or odd mixture of alternative quirkiness with dashes of retro-soul), or some other formulaic approach. But suppose you don’t feel like being a formula variation—what’s a girl to do, especially if you don’t hook up with a rapper, a music mogul, or some male beat-meister?
Consider Maiysha. Liberal arts college graduate. Did a short stint teaching school before making a professional breakthrough in an unplanned direction and establishing herself as a model.
A model? Yes, a model and she’s not even skinny—she landed a major position with one of the leading New York-based agency as a plus-sized model. So you’re educated, working two professions, and doing well when you decide to jump into music.
Why not? The opportunities are there. You’re smart enough, attractive enough, young enough, got plenty enough “enoughs”; go for it. Your first album (This Much Is True) garners you a 2009 Grammy nomination, seems like you made the right decision, except that was a couple of years ago. What next?
Rather than rush out another album of hastily written material, you record a set of cover material at the famous Blue Note music club in New York City. After all, “Sledgehammer,” the one live track on your debut received all kinds of raves for your cover of the nu-blues song. Plus, you can sing with that all out, rare back and let it rip brio that is a hallmark of a juke joint kind of blues—is that buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix sitting over in the corner comparing notes and referencing your Big Mama Thornton attitude? Maybe you should sing some of their music instead of contemporary songs modeled on the originators, but they all had to admit, child could sang.
Long time music writers such as moi who are way past jaded perked up when we listened all the way through your debut. More than pipes you had strong song-writing skills, really strong. Your lyrics were both forthright and at the same time subtle. Some of your lines were postcard memorable like phrases underlined in a favorite book or notes left on the pillow for an intimate friend. Writing an album’s worth of songs of this quality doesn’t come overnight.
Take your time baby sister, you’ve set high standards for yourself. What’s a woman to do? My only advice is: keep on doing what you’re doing. Keep on making music that reflects both your fears and your dreams, your realities and your aspirations; keep making music that draws on everything that’s ever attracted your ear, while you stretch your imagination to find new ways to mix and match diverse influences.
You offer us evidence that there is more to young musicians than more of the same old same old.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Maiysha Mixtape Playlist
01 “Bang Bang”
02 “If 6 Was 9 - What I Am”
03 “That's All - That's All”
04 “Feel Like Makin' Love”
This Much Is True
05 “Over My Head”
06 “Wanna Be”
08 “Hold Me”
09 “This Much Is True”
This entry was posted on Monday, September 5th, 2011 at 7:20 pm and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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