Musiq Souldchild Visits Bowie State
Musiq Soulchild with Spectrum staff writer Nikki Osei, left, and assistant editor Jocelyn Jones, right.
By Jocelyn Jones
Musiq Soulchild tells a lot of stories in his music that deals with real life, and his fans say that they can relate to all of his songs. Sometimes Musiq writes music according to the track that has already been laid down. If there is not a track, he just comes up with something in his head.
Musiq has always been a soulful and passionate person to his fans, and that is why is music is the way it is. He is all about speaking his mind and not beating around the bush in his music. When it comes to relationships, it's not all black and white, he said, there is a large gray area that no one talks about, and that is what he does in his songs. Musiq enjoys being unique and different, setting to music topics that no one talks about so it can reach out to everyone.
Musiq shared these soulful insights during a visit to Bowie State University on March 8. The nine-time Grammy Award-nominated singer's appearance was part of a nationwide tour of historically black colleges and universities sponsored by the Coca-Cola Co.
Of his five albums --- and as shocking as it seems and not to discredit any work he has done thus far --- Musiq told the audience in Myers Auditorium that he has not begun to scratch the surface of his musical talents.
"There are rules to the game if you want to stay in it and it is what it is," Musiq said, responding to a question by host Dr. Otis Thomas, chairman of the Department of Communications, which coordinated the event with the Office of University Relations and Marketing.
Musiq said he has a lot of songs that he would like to do, but he added that it is not that fun if "we" cannot get down on it. He and his friends might think a song is fresh, but if his fans do not get it then it is pointless. Musiq said he has turned a corner in his music making with the song "So Beautiful" because, he said, there is no other song like it. He said he had a great time recording "So Beautiful", and he seemed surprised to learn from the Bowie State audience that the video for the song is already out.
As he spoke about the song, Dr. Thomas did the unthinkable: He asked Musiq to sing a few lines from the song --- and it worked. At first, Musiq tried to get out of singing by complaining that he was just getting over a bad cold. But the audience would hear it: they clapped, cheered and screamed for him to sing. Then in a strong falsetto, Musiq sang nearly the entire song a capella with the audience joining in on the chorus like a well-rehearsed choir.
In an exclusive backstage interview with The Spectrum before going onstage, Musiq talked about his life and his music.
Asked why he chose neo-soul as the music he likes to perform, Musiq said "I never actually choose neo-soul it's the music that I make and I would call it soul music. People started calling it neo-soul and since people started calling it that I just choose to accept it. As far as the style of music that I make, it just came natural to me. Basically just following in the footsteps of the soul stars of the past doing what I can to contribute to that legacy."
Saying he wants to demonstrate a positive image in his life and music, Musiq said "I hope to portray a person who helps to create a religious perspective mostly on relationships. However outside of that I just hope to portray myself as a creative person who just so happens to express himself through music. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to express myself in other field of creativity like film and fashion or whatever that I can use to express myself. The most important element that I want the people to take away from is that whatever is it I do I am an artist."
Musiq said he has several musical idols across the musical spectrum --- from gospel to jazz to rhythm and blues --- which have shaped his music.
"My musical influences come greatly from the sound of the 70s. There was a point in time that I was addicted to that era. Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire people like that. But I found myself to be more inspired by all type of music the more I got into it, so I don't see myself being genre specific. So my influence can come anywhere from John Coltrane to Bob Marley, Latin music, Punk-Rock from all over the place."
Musiq said he has learned a lot for the musical industry like how to be get his message out beyond his stage performances through one-one-one interviews, personal appearances and news conferences. When he first got into the business, he didn't like to talk to people and found answering repeated questions tedious, but he said he has come to understand that he needs to keep the conversation going with his supporters.
While there is no single way to make it in the music industry, Musiq's advice for aspiring musicians is to stay on top of the changes in music. He said there are also a variety of outlets (Facebook, MySpace) and showcases for musicians to get their music out. Lastly, the competition has gotten more intense and record labels are not looking for someone who they have to spend a lot of time on or money in developing. A new artist's work should be so good that they should "have the label looking for you."
As a writer, life and people have inspired him and there are too many ideas and options going on that you can write about. Musiq does not believe in writer's block and believes that it is when a person doesn't break through and willing to accept certain things because there is so many things out there and it is just a matter of fixing your perspective on things.
The oldest of nine children, Musiq said he has been through a lot of experiences but even the unfortunate experiences are pleasant. At 17, he left his parents' house and was homeless and put himself in that position because things were going bad at the crib with several brothers and sisters and living in the hood where the money is not great. It was a little stressful and everything was put on him because is the oldest. He knew that his parents loved him but he did not take advantage of the resources that was given to him and he wanted to do it his way because he knew there was a better way.
Musiq said he wishes he had taken advantage of the school system and wishes that he had finished school because it would have prepared him for his future. "It is all up to you and it is your choice, you cannot blame anyone for how your life turned out because people are there to help," he said. "When it comes to your life and you should know that you are put on a path and that God never puts you in a situation that you cannot handle."
In the future he would like to own his own film company because it enjoys being influenced in to new things. Musiq is not all about one thing because he is very versatile. With President Barack Obama he gives him all of his support because he is doing the best that he can and he needs our support. There is one thing that he does on his birthday called Give More Love Day. On this day, he gives back to the community through spending time with children, visiting a transitional home, going to schools or anything else he can do to give back and inspire.
Musiq Soulchild has an extraordinary personality and is quite the comedian and expresses a lot of soul within his music. He has great energy and enjoys what he does, especially touching the lives of his listeners whether though his music or the aspects of life.