… I think the most important thing for us to remember in order to thrive is that we are already perfect. There is no success, no goal, nothing outside of this very moment that can be earned or created that will make us any better than we are today. AND, we are one. That thought makes me thrive because of all the power in it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alana Davis, a singer-songwriter and Manhattan native who has released albums on Warner/Elektra, Concord Music Group/Telarc and most recently Cleopatra Records. In addition to achieving a Billboard Top 40 hit with the song “32 Flavors”, Alana has collaborated with Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Kaki King. Her most recent album “Love Again” was released in May and she will be embarking on an East Coast City Winery tour this fall.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
DAVIS: Well as it turns out, I never wanted to be a singer, or front person in a band. I wanted to be the bass player. I tried to start bands in high school but no one wanted to play reggae and punk rock at that time (who knows why?!), or just didn’t want to play with me:( So i ended up playing alone a lot, pretty much always. Eventually i realized it might be fun to hear more coloring, So I traded my leather bomber jacket for an acoustic guitar. It was a neon pink acoustic with a pointed, heavy metal headstock, it was pretty rad. I guess i began finding my path, voice, my songs in that period.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
DAVIS: I find it pretty interesting that there are pop stars who are fans of mine. Over the years i have run into a few who have told me i am inspiring to them, interesting to them… When Katy Perry said she and her friends want to be Alana Davis when they are singing, it kinda blew my mind, as i would not have thought i was on their radar at all.. I come from jazz roots, not pop at all.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
DAVIS: I am working on new material always. I just released my first album in over a decade and it feels great to be back connecting with the people who have missed me. I have some cool collaborations going into the next project, i can’t say with whom yet tho, sorry! You’ll have to pick it up!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
DAVIS: Mother Theresa was a friend of mine when i was growing up. She moved into the building next to mine on Washington Street in Greenwich Village, and was the first to care for people who had been diagnosed with AIDS in a period when doctors were afraid to touch them, afraid to be in any sort of contact with this new disease at all. I would see her casually almost every day… it is hard to describe how unique and special that relationship was for me, but maybe you can imagine it. She was one of a kind.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
DAVIS: I would have to say I’m inspired by pioneers. I love when humans stand in the face of adversity and pull off something magical. We have the power to do that, you know.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
DAVIS: Thats a hard one. i don’t have a foundation or anything, and i do not donate money to charity although i am often happy to donate my time. I have rescued hundreds of animals and neutered or spayed them and placed them in forever homes. Its more my style to devote my time than my money as I feel its more valuable. I also work with my hands in nature, and in the dirt. i have replaced a number of useless green grass yards with low growing, sustainable food/medicine plants… If i weren’t a musician, it’d be earth and animals… i am a Taurus after all, haha! Aside from the music i write, which is an extension of my soul connection to everyone, I do not focus much on groups, i am more about the individual, and between the listener and the song, there is healing for us all. This is my work.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
DAVIS: I would plant ackee trees everywhere and anywhere they can grow. The fruit has a bad reputation for being poisonous, but it is not. It is a perfect food, full of naturally occurring fats, sugar and nutrients… Much healthier than tofu for vegetarians and a natural food not a processed one! And if there were enough growing around on our planet, NO ONE would ever or could ever starve. (Hello Mama Africa, I’m talking to you!)
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
DAVIS: I think the most important thing for us to remember in order to thrive is that we are already perfect. There is no success, no goal, nothing outside of this very moment that can be earned or created that will make us any better than we are today. AND, we are one. That thought makes me thrive because of all the power in it.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
DAVIS: 5 things? Hmmm…
- Don’t write for the sake of writing. A lot of songwriters would tell you that you have to write all the time to stumble across that one good song. Personally, i think its better to write when you feel something specific, have a specific question or issue in mind. When you write for the sake of writing, i believe that keeps it on a more base level, and can make it harder to get to the really deep stuff, whereas when you write when you are lost or sad, impassioned in any way positive or negative, that is when the purges, and the magic can exist.
- Don’t follow industry trends. Things are always changing in the music industry, if you are constantly trying to change with it you will build no foundation. The trends follow the music, not the other way around, Do you.
- Take time off. Its very hard to write new music when you aren’t having new experiences. I mean experiences in the real world, not the music business. Live a genuine life with genuine people in it, and you will always be inspired.
- Don’t sleep with band members. Its easy to feel that connection and be tempted, but its a line I have not crossed and I have seen it cause massive miscommunication and destruction for a female artist. To put it plainly: Once they’ve been on top, you can’t tell them they’re not. And if respect is lost, everything is lost.
- Keep your true friends. There is a lot of adulation to be had in the music business, especially when you have a hit. But don’t believe the hype. All the adulation comes and goes, and if you don’t know who your friends are you will get eaten alive. Keep the old ones, be cautious with new ones.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
DAVIS: Stevie Wonder. He and my father were great friends and used to share a piano bench together and play the hell out of those keys! I have only heard about it from my mother, and i have never had the opportunity to meet him and tell him how he not only was a massive force in my father’s life, but also mine. To this day my idea of a perfect song, is basically one crafted by him. There was no other artist in as heavy rotation in my house growing up.
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Originally published at medium.com