Place of Birth: Washington, D.C.
Stage name: Cecily
Twitter Name: @CecilyAlexa & @Cecily_Music
I got my start in 2011. I’d been singing for almost 10 years at that point, doing everything from classical to gospel, but it was in 2011 that I got my first real experience recording in a studio & working with a great producer. I just graduated from college in May 2012 and that is when I began to pursue my singing career full-time.
I always loved to sing, and while in school all of my extracurricular activities were centered around music, but I had always planned on becoming a diplomat. It was in the summer of 2009 that I realized that music is my true calling. I went to a jazz festival with my parents, and while watching all the various performers working the stage it hit me that that is where I want to be, on stage, having an audience feel my music.
I define my genre as Acoustic Pop Soul. It’s acoustic because I like to work with real musicians and real instrumentation. It’s Pop because it has crossover appeal, and it’s Soul because it gives you that warm, soulful feeling like back in the day.
I am inspired by my audiences. I am inspired by people who come up and tell me that my voice touched their spirits, that they were moved in some way by my performance. I also love to sing! I love getting better at expressing myself vocally & the joy I get from improving – being able to hold a note longer or sing a phrase with better dynamics – keeps me going as well.
I’ve always admired strong, innovative vocalists. When I was growing up I always looked up to Chaka Khan and Anita Baker in particular, because they really have their own unique style and they sing fearlessly.
The artists that I get a lot of inspiration from today and that I feel like my sound resembles are Adele, Jill Scott, and Emeli Sande. They are all strong vocalists and amazing songwriters. They all have an acoustic sound, which I connect with, and they are all unique individuals who have not let the industry push them to be someone who they are not.
I usually write about relationships. I occasionally write about politics and social issues, but lyrics about love are what come most naturally to me. What’s interesting is that, if I try to reflect & write on a personal situation, I usually get caught up in trying to make it an accurate account of what went down or how I am feeling, and that usually leads to writers block. So generally, I have to write about it as if it’s someone else’s experience to get the right lyrics on the page. But everything I write does relate to something I’ve dealt with in the past – needing to break free from a dead-end relationship, a long distance relationship, the butterflies you feel when you tell someone how you really feel about them, the feeling of having lost yourself when a relationship ends. Just things that most people have been through at one point or another.
I think was truly makes me stand out is my voice. I have a very pure tone and timbre that people are drawn to, which is a blessing. I’ve been studying voice for about 10 years, so technically I sing well, but I also am able to convey emotion with ease. I think the combination of my unique voice & my ability to make people feel the words of a song, make me special. And although I am humble, I know for certain that my gift is rare.
I really like great TV shows! Being in school for 4 years getting my degree, I really had no time to watch TV. So the past few months I’ve been catching up on amazing shows like Homeland, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire.
Hip Hop is definitely not dead! I think there was a time, in the early 2000’s, when the major industry had too much control over which artists got heard and what content got promoted, but I think that technology has advanced to the point where artists have more control. There will be always be great Hip Hop artists who are truly lyrical and emotive, and thankfully more of them are getting heard now than they were 10 years ago.
I’ve learned to be patient and to follow my instincts and my heart. Things will happen when they are meant to. I’ve learned that there will always be setbacks, but that I can’t let them diffuse my momentum. And I’ve learned that if something doesn’t feel right, I have to keep working until it does, even if that means delays.
I think the Independent Arts Industry is an amazing and frustrating industry to be a part of. You have a lot of creative freedom, but not always the money to fully execute your creative visions. I would tell an artist just getting started to make sure to fully vet everyone you are going to work with. Are they trustworthy? Will they be able to deliver what they’ve promised? Are they asking for too much money or more control than necessary? You definitely need a lawyer! I would just say to try not to waste money, but to never compromise your art because of limited resources. If you are going to spend money on something it should be on having a quality recording and quality branding.
I’m currently working on my first EP, which I am planning to release sometime late spring/early summer 2013. The working title is Endless Summer. At the moment I’m mostly focusing on promoting my first single “Too Much” and its music video.
Completing “Too Much,” both the song and the video was quite easy actually. I wrote a brief reflection about the process on my blog, which you can read at cecilymusic.blog.com
Completing the EP has been a more difficult process because I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want my signature sound to be. I think a lot of artists struggle with this in the beginning, and I’ve realized that the struggle itself the learning experience. I think I’m finally finding my voice musically, and I think 2013 is going to be a lot easier than 2012 was for that reason!
A few months ago I was in the studio with the very accomplished songwriter & singer Gordon Chambers. We recorded a duet that may be on my EP or may be released as a single. I’ve also worked with a few different producers and co-writers, including Vaneese Thomas and Benjamin Wright.
I’m always open to sitting and jamming with different musicians, you never know when you might write a hit song! But specifically, I would love to work with Raheem DeVaughn and few local rappers, including Obii Say, Uptown XO, and Phil Ade. I would love to work with producers Chucky Thompson and Rich Harrison as well. My brother is part of a dope production team called SunKa Productions, and surprisingly we have yet to collab, so definitely hoping to do that in 2013 as well. You can check them out at https://soundcloud.com/sun-ka
There are so many people I would love to work with! But just to name a few: I would love to sing a duet with Robin Thicke; I would love to have a writing session with Emeli Sande; I would love to sing a hook on one of Lupe’s tracks; I would love to get on a track with Robert Glasper; and one day I would love to get in the studio with producer Mark Ronson.
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