From the time she was just a small girl singing in a local church choir, now, singer/songwriter and Grammy award nominee, N’dambi has not only set her mark in the music industry, but has done so with great poise and finesse. Moreover, one can agree that today’s music industry can be one of the most demanding industries in the world; attempting to build a career in it would require just about every breath you take.
A breath, most of us would simply have difficulty comprehending. That said, yes, N’dambi could have run out and beat her chest like Tarzan, or, scale the walls like Cat Woman, but, no -she chooses none of these approaches. Instead, N’dambi remains calm, focused and ready to pave the way for those ready to follow in her footsteps.
A former backup vocalist for Grammy winner Erykah Badu, N’dambi, has blessed us with her debut CD, “PINK ELEPHANT” which, by the way, was nominated for a Grammy straight out of the gate.
Here is a woman who knows what she wants, knows how to get it, then goes and gets it. And for that, N’dambi, we salute you for filling our homes, offices, dance clubs, and cars with some of the absolute best “Neo-Soul” R&B heard today. With a voice reminiscent to legendary Chaka Khan, N’dambi is destined for sure stardom. And why not, she’s certainly done her homework, and, much of it.
Bold, Sassy, and Jazzy, N’dambi keeps a very tight schedule as to be expected, however, SmoothJazzTimes.com’s Patrick Hamilton was able to catch up with her most recently. She talks music, social networking, and the Pink Elephant venture.
SJT: (Patricklee Hamilton) Hey, N’dambi, how are you doing today?
N’dambi: I’m great! How are you?
SJT: Fine, thanks so much for asking. I would like to start by saying SmoothJazzTimes.com really appreciates you taking the time out of your schedule to chat with us a bit.
N’dambi: You are very welcome.
SJT: N’dambi, tell us about your PINK ELEPHANT project?
N’dambi: This is the first album that I have released on a major label ( STAX). And, in working on that album, I had the opportunity to work with Leon, who happens to be someone that I really admire, because of his production styles and the way he writes songs moreover, his legacy with the Sylvers and all the other groups he’d worked with before. And so, I wanted an opportunity to work with someone where we could be creative together. So, I chose an album that could facilitate my passion for creative storytelling; because I try to find myself as more of a narrator telling stories. This way I can use the music as a canvas to move the story along with the words.
SJT: Kind of like a talking book…
N’dambi: Yeah, like a talking book. (Giggles from both)
SJT: When you say, Leon, you’re referring to Leon Sylvers, right?
SJT: What was it like working with Leon?
N’dambi: Working with Leon Sylvers was a dream comes true for me. One, because I am just a fan of his production, what he’s done, and the songs he has created for other people. He has a way of making music; sweet and funky all at the same time, while remaining open to what I had to offer. He worked really hard on helping me shape the ideas as I saw them. So, we really had a good time working together. I was really excited to know that he wanted to work with me, and it all turned out very well.
SJT: How did you make that connection?
N’dambi: Well, actually at this point while working on pink elephant I was singed with stax, and an A&R source wanted us to have a meeting, because Leon had an interest in working with me. Turns out, he’d been keeping up with my work for some time before we actually linked up. He had his eye on my career while I was an independent.
SJT: How many of the songs did you actually write on the project?
N’dambi: All the songs, I had an active hand in writing the lyrics. Take it out, track #7 is the first song Leon and I, wrote together. But, all of the other songs, I had a hand in the lyrics and the melodies. And, also, being a part of the process of arranging, while Leon was really great at shaping ideas, and creating the necessary elements needed for the project. Because he is very creative in writing music. So, yes, I was very involved in the process.
SJT: Pink Elephant was nominated for a Grammy. What was that like for you?
N’dambi: I think that as an artist, the biggest thing we all wanted is a Grammy, and, so this was a great opportunity, one, to be recognized for what we were doing, and what we were creating, and, that is an honor in and of itself. And to just be in the company of so many other wonderful artists, to me, was such an honor. So, I am excited as to this gives more meaning as to why I do much. And I hope people can find something within my music that they can connect to. Moreover, it kind-of like being a kid and getting that one thing you’ve always wanted. And it finally comes true.
SJT: So how did all this great work of yours get started?
N’dambi: At the time I started my career, I was singing background for Erykah Badu. Then I started doing my own music independently, and put it out. The approval seemed to be very supportive. So, that is how it really started.
SJT: Did you have somewhat of an extensive musical background prior to working with Erykah?
N’dambi: Yes. I grew up in the church. My father was the pastor and I sing in the family choir. I grew up playing piano and clarinet. I would also play in the jazz bands throughout high school. I would always have an active role in most anything musical.
SJT: It appears that your success, even at a younger age was quite obvious. Are you on the road now?
N’dambi: I’m actually on the road – off and on. I’m also writing a new album.
SJT: Great! Can you give us the name of the new album?
N’dambi: We do not have a title at the moment; however, we are hoping to release this new project sometime this year.
SJT: Are you working with any other artists that you can talk about?
N’dambi: At the moment, I am writing most of the material on my own. However, there are other artists that I’m interested in working with but I will not say anything about that yet. I want to see how everything unfolds.
SJT: Are you approachable to your fans?
N’dambi: I am always approachable to my fans, or shall I say, friends. Because it’s not just me, it took everyone to make this experience come to pass. I could not have done this, had it not been for each and every one that I have come in contact with during this journey. I enjoy giving them autographs too.
SJT: How do you stay connect with your fans while on the road or, at home?
N’dambi: I take advantage of Facebook and Twitter; however, for me the biggest connection and enjoyment are after live shows when I am able to shake hands of my fans. Yes, social networking is important. Nothing, however, tops standing face to face with your fans.
SJT: N’dambi, I would like to thank you for sharing a few moments with us today.
N’dambi: You are very welcome. It has been my absoluture pleasure.