Tuesday, May 18, 2010

After a Talk with God: ArinMaya on Her Gift

story by Jocelyn M. Goode
images from www.arinmaya.com

"There is a knowing I have inside me, a beating of heart as rhythms roam free..." --from the song "Once" by ArinMaya

At some point or another, a moment arrives in the life of a creative person when s/he must acknowledge the blessing of having talent. An inexplicable urgency exists that makes one create, connect and continue, even when the reasons why are not exactly clear. The result is something unique and amazing that touches others in a way that can only be explained as divine. And at that time, some realize that they must be grateful.

FAIM Internet Magazine had an enlightening conversation with singer and songwriter ArinMaya about her journey of self-realization as an artist. On May 4, 2010, she released her newest EP, The Sound of ArinMaya, which is a series of tracks that showcase the creative range of this up-n-coming songstress who cannot be boxed by categories. Electrobeat-spiritsoul-indie-jazz, her music weaves elements of all those genres, making a sound that is inspiring and uplifting. This album, which is available as a free download at http://arinmaya.bandcamp.com, came together after a process of soul searching, trusting in self, and having a talk with God.

The Beginning
Here's how it all started: ArinMaya, a Chicago native, grew up listening to music. As a high school student, she also spent a great deal of time writing poetry and developing spiritually. She was very active in her church and some of her first singing experiences happened there. While she has always loved to sing, she never considered herself to have a great voice; she never considered herself "gifted". However, after graduating from Howard University and working for a corporate book publisher, ArinMaya had a nagging feeling that could not be ignored. Something was amiss in her life. It was then that she and her Creator conversed and He told her that if she was not going to use her gift, that she would lose it.

In Her Words
FAIM: What is your gift?
AM: The voice that I'm blessed with; it's a powerful voice in terms of it's heft and timber...also being an encouraging ear, I try to be that because so often people get discouraged...Outlook is a powerful part of my gift that I want to share; my relationship with God has affected my outlook on the world...

FAIM: How did you come to recognize it?
AM: By getting more comfortable with my voice, through singing, hearing myself sing and seeing people hear my voice. Sometimes, thinking about it too much, I wasn't able to give my best...now it about establishing a connection with an audience by being comfortable with my voice without expecting it to be something else.
FAIM: What are you supposed to do with your gift?
AM: Trust it. Taking advantage of the gift--the moments of clarity when they strike, trusting that what I want to do is what God wants. There is a sense of urgency when there is trust. The song "Lemondrops" came from sitting around waiting for an open mike to start at a cafe in Paris. I just wrote...I want to create and focus on making my gift greater... I want to write a song about listening to ourselves, both the vocal self and the inner self.

FAIM: What do you do to maintain your gift?
AM: I'm particular about what comes into my psyche. I watch what I take in...I don't listen to things that are negative, I watch what comes into my ears and eyes. I'm health conscious...things that do not agree with me, I just don't do...

FAIM: What have been some of your greatest epiphanies during your journey?
AM: The value of being alone. It's ok to not have company. We miss out on moments of freedom because we don't do if we don't have company...Also, the shackles of a 9-5 put me in a box. I feel like He has never failed me yet, and I don't think He will, somehow I'm ok. I'm more financially comfortable than I've ever been even though I made more money with a 9-5 when I had a salary and benefits. I don't have a salary now, I don't have benefits. But I promise, if you follow your heart, you will get what you need.

FAIM: What do you think life would be like if you lost your gift?
AM: The little girl in me says, "I would just have to get another gift!" I'd still be writing but I'd have to find another outlet...

Here and Now
ArinMaya describes her E.P as a Christmas gift from God. She said the songs kept knocking at her door and she produced them inspired by Stevie Wonder, Bobby McFerrin, South African music and Sweet Honey and the Rock . For ArinMaya, "music is not about creating a feeling, but being in a feeling and manifesting it through lyrics and melody."

For the listeners, she hopes that they feel empowered and understood after hearing her music. She wants them to do what they want to do, in a positive way. In ArinMaya's words, "to feel good with where you are, like, I can move past this, I'm ok."

To see her perform live, come to Le Grand Dakar restaurant on Saturday, May 22nd at 8pm, 285 Grand Ave (between Clifton Pl & Lafayette Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11238. The event is free and accessible via subway by taking the G train to Classon or the B38 bus to Grand Ave. ArinMaya will be accompanied by her guitarist, Nicholas Cassarino. To learn more about ArinMaya and to download her album, visit www.arinmaya.com
"I believe that everybody will be happier if they discover their passion and follow it."-ArinMaya

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Who is Beyond Sensational? Meet Taela Naomi

by Jocelyn M. Goode photos courtesy of Taela Naomi Brooks

The word sensational means stimulating, causing interest or excitement but temporarily and by superficial means. Well, Taela Naomi Brooks is by all definitions interesting and exciting but she is sincere, intelligent, grounded and a starlet that will be around for years. The 25-year old Brooklyn native is a finalist in the "Be Sensational" competition to win a spot on the hit Broadway musical "Chicago". Taela was the only finalist chosen after a live audition judged by actor Mario Lopez and Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams, who currently plays Roxie in the show. Now she needs the people's support to land the walk-on role and to get one step closer to fulfilling her dreams.

FAIM Internet Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing Taela Naomi to learn about her journey as a performer. She definitely deserves the support to go the next level. Read the below interview to find out why she is beyond sensational...

FAIM: How long have you been a performer?
I’ve been performing since I began creative movement classes at age 3.

FAIM:What styles of performance do you have expertise in?
I have studied ballet, tap, hip-hop, modern, contemporary, theater, and jazz. Musical theater has become my area of interest and versatility is important since every show calls for a different technique.

FAIM: What productions have you participated in already?
I have performed in Dreamgirls (with Jennifer Holliday), The Producers, High School Musical 2, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Crazy For You. I have performed on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, and modeled for L’Oreal, Ed Hardy and Sony. I was also a principal dancer with Naganuma Dance, a contemporary dance company based in New York City for 2 years.

FAIM: Who would you love to share the stage with?

TN: I would love to share the stage with Beyonce! Her choreography is always fierce.

FAIM: What has been your greatest obstacle and how are you overcoming it?
My greatest obstacle has been remaining focused in such an unstable industry. Once a show is over it is always back to auditioning and striving for what comes next. I practice my art regularly even when I’m not performing and whenever I dance I know it’s my calling and I feel newly inspired.

FAIM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself playing Velma in Chicago on Broadway.

FAIM: What has been your greatest accomplishment so far and why?
My greatest accomplishment so far has been remaining true to my hopes and dreams and never giving up. All my other accomplishments happened simply because of my unrelenting determination.

FAIM: What is your dream role?
My dream role is Velma in Chicago. I love her determination and feisty character. Fosse’s choreography is my favorite to perform also!

FAIM: What is something surprising you have learned about the industry that you wish you knew before you got started?
I wish I had realized that I wanted to go into musical theater earlier! I would have taken up singing lessons. I always loved dance and trained to be a dancer but only realized that I wanted to sing after college.

FAIM: What have you had to sacrifice to get to this level?
I’ve had to sacrifice the sanity of a stable, routine lifestyle. My career takes me all over the country and the world which is exciting but also inhibits me from ever feeling truly at home.

FAIM: Do you have any regrets?
I have no regrets because I always give my all and am living for my dreams.

FAIM: What is the difference between your real life personality and your stage personality?
In real life I am sometimes shy and quiet. On stage there is no room for humility. My stage personality is large and loud.

FAIM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from great choreographers like Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins and amazing singers like Jennifer Holliday. They are true masters of their craft.

FAIM: What was your most embarrassing stage moment?
My most embarrassing stage moment was tripping to the point of nearly falling during my big entrance! That happened while I was still in college.

FAIM: What advice do you have for other aspiring performers?
My best advice to other performers is to never give up. Those who succeed at anything are those who see their dream and stick with it. See as many great performances as you can to stay inspired. Practice your art and learn impeccable technique.

FAIM: What can readers do to support you?
You can visit www.besensationalandwin.com and vote for me once a day from now till this Friday, May 7th to help me win a spot in Chicago. Also check out my website, www.taelanaomi.com to keep updated on my upcoming performances!

FAIM: When do you learn the results for this competition?
Results are revealed on May 22nd. Fingers crossed!

FAIM: What is the one thing you want people to remember you for?
I want people to remember me for my elegance and commanding stage presence. I want to be an agent in the magical experience that theater is supposed to invoke.

Check her out here!
and vote everyday until May 7th at www.besensationalandwin.com to help her win!