Friday, March 18, 2011

The Lawretta Richards Interview(RETTA)

Photo Credit: Jton Productions

          Lawretta Richards is what Hollywood/Nollywood would call a bankable star. Voice, looks, confidence, poise, aggressive sexiness and the ability to twitch a vixenish smile on command at the corners of her mouth - they all combine to captivate audiences in general and to turn grown men into foolish little boys. On paper, Retta’s ascent to stardom follows the traditional route of many cookie cutter, here today gone tomorrow stars. Similar to such stars, she appears on many variety shows and her appeal is not restricted to those with a taste for more serious music.

However, Retta is distinct among these other stars in the mainstream due to her signature pout and believable tough-girl voice. Her songs never come off as sugary bubble-gum pop, but the melodies are not anywhere near American R&B style. Her mature, almost monotone voice evokes a sense of depth and sex appeal achieved rarely by other artists and her beauty comes across as far more than average cuteness. The richness of her delivery nearly stops the heart because you know an angel is singing, and the beauty of this outpouring of love stirs your soul. Her gift of vocal music is wonderful to behold.

        Recently, I had the chance to interview Retta. The songstress popped on the music scene in 2010 with her release of the singles ‘Kolo for You’ and ‘Would You be Mine’, and has soared to higher heights ever since. Although her family has long been involved in the music industry, she only recently discovered her talent as a performer. She was brought to the public’s attention by Joy Tongo, President of Jton Productions while vacationing in Nigeria and has since not looked back.

The full text of the interview can be read below:

How are you doing? Before we get any further with this interview, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am doing great, thanks a lot. My name is RETTA. I am 20yrs old...born and raised in Nigeria (Port Harcourt), where I had my primary and secondary education. Love listening to all genres of music and I got great passion for singing, dancing as well as acting and writing. Studied theatre arts in the University of Port Harcourt after which I moved to Lagos to start a life time career in entertainment and in the Arts.

Let’s go back into your days, how were things for you growing up? What kind of music were you exposed to?

I was exposed to all genres of music but mostly old school...the 80's and 90' family’s got a lot of interest in music especially my dad cause he happened to be a very famous DJ in his time (laughs). I am still very much into old school but then I create a balance with the new generational music. Growing up for me wasn't so easy, because I used to be on the very reserved and quite side. I would hardly speak to anyone so I spent most of my time behind closed doors writing about how I felt about myself. I got an amazing woman for a mother because she made me who I am today. My dad was always travelling for business but he managed to still create a balance in his family by still being there for us as much as he could. I had a lot of insecurities and low self esteem growing up but with God and time I was able to surpass all that......

Who are your biggest influences?..

I have been influenced by a lot of people in different ways. I would start with my musical influence...Dido and Tracy Chapman...etc then to stage craft...Rihanna and the Noisettes then to perfectionist....Beyonce Knowles and Michael Jackson...and many more I wouldn't want to put down else I'll begin to bore you(Laughs).

Have the personal experiences inspired you musically?

My personal life and experience is one of my biggest inspirations. When I decided to put my pen and paper together. In different ways my personal experiences have always played a major role in my music.

How are the people outside Nigeria appreciating your music?

They have been very receptive and that gives me great joy.

Photo Credit: Jton Productions
You are currently working on a forthcoming album. Do you mind sharing with us the progress thus far and what will the title be?

Yes. I am working on my album, which will consist of about 12-13 tracks but still not finally decided. We haven't really finalized on what the title would be but before it drops you definitely would hear of it...the album is a mixture of different kinds of genres but still retaining my sound.

What are some of the challenges that you face as an independent artist?

Oh well, the major one should be shortage of funds and support from the guru's in the is a challenge but I still see the positive side to it which makes me stronger To know I can fight for what I want and achieve it. There's a pride that comes with that you know.

What has been the public’s reception so far to the release of Kolo for You? Any message behind that track?

'Kolo for You' is doing amazingly well. At first I was scared as to how well it would be accepted because I hear people say it sounds too international. But I found out that the music scene is changing and people are getting to give ears to good music' international or not...good music is good music and would be appreciated. ‘Kolo’ means crazy and as we all know it is a well known slang in Nigeria's famous Pidgin English... Kolo can be used positively or negatively. In this record, it portrays the positive side. The message this song is trying to pass across is that of two loving hearts been separated by distance and how much they can still feel each other whether they are together or not... In other words we are saying that distance should never be a barrier to love.

Besides music, what else are you interested in?

I actually love everything entertainment...from singing to dancing to acting and even writing... I am passionate about arts so I have strange for hunger for arts and entertainment.

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?

I am a soul musical artist with a fusion of pop...I can also be seen as ritual soul' because of that old school feel in my music. It may be hard for you to classify me on a particular genre. Different people hear different sounds as far as rock but that's just cause of my flammable mixture of the both genres.

What is the one thing you would like your fans to know about you?

 Hahaha! Ok that's a tough one. I'll just say one thing am popularly known for is that I smile a little bit too much. Easily tickled. (Covers face).Bringing it home, what's your take on contemporary African music in general? Hmm! Oh well I think it is still growing and many more talents are yet to be discovered. Our artists have done very well for the country. I mean' we have grown so fast and strong. I am proudly African.

Where can fans get your latest music, photos etc?

On the Internet, my Facebook Fanpage, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter.

What does it feel like to perform in front of a crowd who feel and really respond to your music?

Wow! That's all I can say... (Hahaha) and many more expressions like ehhh!jeez!... Its breath taking, exciting and extremely mind blowing... You can actually get carried away with excitement if not put together...the feeling is indescribable.

What’s been your biggest musical achievement?

 Well for now I will say been giving the opportunity to stand in front of a crowd and get people actually listen and appreciate my music. These are all huge achievements for me and as time goes on there are better to come.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

 In 5years I see myself on top of my game. I am going to be heard and recognized in the world and I coming back home with the Grammys and many more international and local awards. I am going to take over Africa with my music. I would have taking over by then and started building my music school in Nigeria.

So what’s set for 2011?

2011 is my year... I will bring the best music you would ever hear in Africa and an album to my credits, touring around the world. 2011 is just the beginning of something very BIG.

Thanks a lot for your support. It is a privilege to have this interview.

         Success requires the right qualities. Image is one of the most important qualities besides talent that can aid one’s possibility of success. Retta possesses that and more too. She is a lovely lady and the combination of this look, her sweet disposition and her huge talent, will make her very successful. Her singing voice is so pure. She just naturally knows when to modulate and when to crescendo. She has all the variations of a singer who has been trained by the best music teacher. In my humble opinion, Ms. Richards would certainly go places and I would urge readers to purchase her full length album when it is eventually released.

        So there you have it. A little insight into Retta’s world. For more details about upcoming tours, releases, and performances, visit or following her on Twitter@Rettarich.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nneka: The Neo-Soul Philosopher

Photo Credit: Nnekaworld
Few artistes garner the kind of attention and interest like Nneka Lucia Egbuna does. Nneka as she is called by her fans, is captivating to witness in concert. She may not be a household name in the States just yet, but she's carved out a nice following abroad and every time she releases a record, critics go crazy with praise. Nneka also follows in the footsteps of very notable female singers such as Laura Izibor and Sade from her native country of Nigeria.

This half -Nigerian/German was born and raised in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. It’s worth pointing out that this region of Nigeria where Nneka grew up is home to vast oil reserves, but with a troubled history of violence. She has seen all this with her own eyes as a child and teenager and now expresses it through her art. Her voice is amazing--it's strong and beautiful. She is mesmerizing to listen to and she makes you really care what happens. An uncompromising perfectionist, she worked hard to develop a personal, pensive sound, somewhat reminiscent of Erykah Badu and Neneh Cherry.

Since her first album which made waves in the music arena in 2005, she’s been on a raging hit sequence. An archeologist by study and singer by heart! Her style of music and the way its’ fusion mixed is just amazing. This lady with a unique charismatic voice counts Life, Kahlil Gibran, Bob Marley and Fela Kuti as some of her influences. Her music and lyrics are totally different from usual music makers. She has her own inimitable style which has made a mark in the music world. I am an ardent fan of Nneka. Her first song which I heard was ‘Kange’ feat. Wesley Williams, which was my favorite then. ‘Africans’ is my favorite now! The lyrical content of some of Nneka’s songs have focused on the plight of her native Delta people such as the aptly titled 'No Longer at Ease' album released in 2008, which pays homage to a novel by the much-revered Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. The trajectory of Ms. Nneka’s musical career has been both steep and upward. In the last 5 years, she has opened up for some of the biggest acts such as Lenny Kravitz, The Roots and Gnarls Barkley, during which time she’s released 2 full length albums and 3 compilation CDs.She was awarded the Best African Act at the 2009 MOBO Awards. In 2010, Nneka recorded a song for the just-ended FIFA World Cup in South Africa called "Viva Africa”. Key in all this has been her tireless drive as a performer and graciousness to all, with no airs to speak of. She has a distinctive style and ability to engage her audiences.

All her songs present a great mix of R&B, reggae, jazz, soul  and hip-hop with the latest style which makes them soothing to the ears. Her videos are very different and make you watch them again and again. Her latest album “Concrete Jungle” is just awesome. And she looks amazing in the video. I recently bought her latest album “Concrete Jungle”. Get yours!

       We consider ourselves very privileged to have been given the opportunity to share with you a very insightful and candid interview with a lady who is as humble and down to earth as her sound which is out of this world! We hope you enjoy it as much as we had.

Could you explain the pronunciation of your name? My name means mother is supreme. Nneka sounds like (hm neck car).

Tell us a bit about your story and how you got into music. Who is your biggest inspiration?

I got into music at a very early age, I was felt devoted to music, the fact is that no one in my family had anything to do with music...well I would sing to myself while doing my domestic work at home and sometimes I sang in school or ended up singing at festivities in church, but it was never professional until I traveled out of Nigeria ,when I went to Germany, I ended up understanding I really had a passion for music and it helped me through many difficult times and situations..I began doing music as a hobby and something I just loved and eventually performed on small stages and with friends. It was at this stage I met people like the Chosen Few Records Group and eventually became a member. I also met DJ Farhot with whom I ended up working with and doing three albums.

How long have you been performing? Well I got my record deal in 2003, professionally I have been touring since then, but before that I performed in small places with my group and also with a band called funknastico at that time.

Where are you originally from? I am from Nigeria, born and raised. My father is from Anambra state in the south of Nigeria and my biological mother is a German.

Are you close to your family? How old were you when your parents split?
Well I am in good terms with my father. I never knew my mother until I was 17

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?
It is authentic, real and simple, sometimes complicated but within the complexity there is sincerity and simplicity.

Do you write your own lyrics? How do you approach the songwriting process?
Yes I write my own lyrics that makes me to who I am as a musician, without expressing myself through my own lyrics I would not have an outlet. Well songwriting happens in different ways, sometimes I start with the words, other times with the melody and eventually I find the words and sometimes I hear a beat and become inspired...or sometimes I just don’t have anything to say.

When did you first know you wanted to be a professional musician? Never did(laughs).

What would you have done if you hadn't become a singer? I have a degree in anthropology and archaeology. I finished my studies, I could do something with my studies or go back and study biology.

Photo Credit: Nnekaworld
Your latest album “Concrete Jungle” was released in February 2010. What has been the public’s response thus far to the album and do you have anything new in the works?
Well it’s been good response I must, say we have toured almost three years with those songs, and we have gained great acknowledgement and publicity in Europe, and Africa...we approached the states with concrete jungle only last year, but we have been touring in the states as well over two years now..It has been a success and really hard work.

You released “I’m waiting” featuring fellow Nigerian Ade Bantu, the soundtrack for the movie ‘Relentless’ in which you made your acting debut. What’s the message behind that song and do you plan to pursue movie roles full-time?
Well the song is about suspense, the continuous and never ending story of change and redemption, we not knowing where we are heading to and what precisely we are doing’s about pain and freedom.

Is there any cause that you’d like to promote? Yes, sure, I have a foundation called the ROPE foundation where we give children and young adults the opportunity to express themselves by tools of music, art. We are a fresh foundation and we raise awareness on issues that concern the community and their leaders...issues of ecology, oil, exploitation or injustice of any kind, even elections...

On a more serious note, you are unapologetically proud of your Nigerian/African roots. What's your take on the current state of African politics and its’ battered image in the western media?
Well, we have so many things to say...I moved back to Nigeria to be part of the system I myself was criticizing...fact is some things change and some things do not..All I can do is be part of positive change, that is why I focus on the youth because they are the, knowledge, love is what they need.

What travel tips or suggestions do you have for people contemplating visiting Nigeria and other parts of Africa?
Be open, not all of Africa is just negative, corrupt and full of AIDS and HIV. It might be part of reality, but there is more than that...culture, tradition, good people and talent.

What kind of music do you listen to? Soul, afro beat, highlife, hip hop etc

What about you is most misunderstood? My intentions.

Last year, you toured with Nas and Damian Marley to help promote their 'Distant Relatives' album. What were your observations of that tour and working experiences with both gentlemen?
Well cool people, I learnt a lot from both, you need stamina and focus for this work. It is not just music it is a movement..exodus... You always have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

What do you want to be remembered for when it’s all said and done?
Ha ha....I pray I fulfill the expectations of my creator...

Thank you for providing us the opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts and advice you wish to share with us?
Pursue all your great ideas!!

Thanks for your support and love!

Have a listen to Nneka’s music at and also follow her on Twitter @Nnekaworld.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

John Q: Riddims & Beatz

         Upcoming singer/songwriter and talented producer John Quansah, with the showbiz name John Q is one to watch. I would even dare go as far to use the words ‘unique’ and ‘timeless’ to describe this reggae artiste. His delivery and voice has a vintage essence, but his words reflect what’s happening today. John Q is an acclaimed rhythm master in the making of reggae, hip-hop and dancehall beats.

        He has in the past written songs and produced other artists such as Mellow Wayne, Jah Tempo, Lady S, and Tilly Beng just to mention a few. With the future looking ever so bright, John Quansah managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with yours’ truly – reflecting on his childhood academic dream, his album “Reggae Storm” and his classical training at Rev. John Teye Memorial School of Music.

First of all, I want to express my gratitude for granting me the opportunity to interview you. Can you tell us about your background and family?

I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. My mum was a school teacher and a pastor in Ghana and New York. My father trained as a civil engineer and a medical doctor in the United Kingdom. My mum was from Accra from the Ga tribe and Dad was a Fanti from Central Region (Cape Coast and Saltpond). I currently live with my only child/son as a single parent.

Tell us a little about your musical history and how you fell into the roles of producer/songwriter and studio/touring musician.

I had the interest in playing musical instruments as a kid (at 5 years old), and my mum enrolled me at Rev. John Teye School in Ghana which was the greatest elementary music and math boarding school. Most students at John Teye spent several hours a day playing the keyboard at the time I attended the school. I would play with friends and we would try to compose our own simple beats on the keyboard. That was where my love for music began. We were also taught to write poetry at an early age at the school. Writing poetry was actually the beginning of my music carrier. Music has always been my source of consolation in difficult times and in my everyday life. Music is my second source of motivation in life of course God being first. The difficulties and painful experiences in life drove me to begin writing music and learning to play the guitar seven years ago. I then wrote four songs on the first Mellow Wayne Reggae album titled "Truth & Love". I had my first studio experience working with Jah Mike. I was also blessed with two guitar teachers who have moved on to the next world. My mother was a strong source of motivation because she did not tolerate average performance in the family as such I am driven to persevere. I spent my first five years writing music for various artistes and running the business aspect of their music carriers.

You count Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Percy Sledge and The Commodores among your biggest influences. Of all the records Bob Marley released, which one do you consider the most essential? ... Tell us your favorite, and feel free to share why you love it so much! ... Obviously Legend does not count:).

My favorite Bob Marley's Album is "Survival". It definitely instilled consciousness in me as a young African man. It gave me more education than any teacher I encountered in my academic journey. I am also heavily thrilled by his album "Catch A Fire". I got my motivation from Bob Marley as a high school student. I am thankful to him for teaching me to be a musician and most importantly a Godly man of consciousness. Bob Marley's Song "One Drop" was always my favorite song in the world. I then embraced his other song "Africa Unite". He is still talking to us till today. It is ironic I am saying this on Ghana's Independence Day. Quoting The Honorable Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “The Independence of Ghana in meaningless until the entire African continent is free”. It is a shame that many African politicians are still sell outs, greedy and corrupt power drunken idiots and children of Africa still suffering at home and abroad. If Africa had united as Bob Marley, Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie had envisioned it, we will not be in the mess we are in today. Most of our people be it the educated and non-educated are so mentally enslaved. The album "Survival" definitely has been a healing medication for the mental slavery and lost identity that is widely spread in our population

Your debut album ‘Reggae Storm’ was released in July 2010 to rave reviews. I’m feeling the track and music video for ‘Born Alone, Die Alone’. Any message behind that track?

Actually, the album I produced "Reggae Storm" was released in 2008. It had my first single I sang "Born Alone Die Alone". I was inspired to write that song out of four sad situations. My 2 closest friends (my music teachers), my mother and closest auntie all passed away in less than a two year period. I felt empty inside and the whole world was crumbling around me. I had asked my son to come live with me as he had requested earlier and somehow his mother got him to write me a painful letter basically asking me to leave him alone just after my mother had died. I had also been victimized by the cold legal system at that time and I realized that I had to start loving myself first before I could be concerned with anyone else because I basically had no one and I still had the zeal to keep on moving so I had to advise myself and the advice was that " Born Alone Die Alone" you need to love yourself before anyone. I also wrote that song as a tribute to the late Jacob Miller who is also one of the musicians who inspired me to sing. I actually adopted his style of singing at a point of the song when I emphasize on "your your your self self". The real message behind the track is that "If you love anyone more than yourself it could break your heart and make you cry" "you were born alone and you will die alone" as such you owe it to yourself to make yourself happy. In your hands lies your destiny. The message is plain and blatant. On the night I was going to voice this track at E2 Recording Studios in Brooklyn. I was on my way to pick up my trumpeter Akrofi Francis by Fordham road and then to proceed to Brooklyn. I had stopped for the red light on a rainy night, and a lady hit me from behind. I realized that the Devil was doing everything to discourage me and I was determined to sing my first track that night. I still proceeded to the studio to record the song before going to the hospital. I realized what that first single meant to me. It feels good to know that people love that song. I am glad you love it too and thanks for the compliment. I also released my new album title "Jamaica To Ghana" and my mixed music DVD titled "African & Caribbean Unity" are available in every African movie shop or markets in most states and also available at

Have the personal experiences inspired you musically?

My personal experiences in life are what motivate me to write good music. Everything I write is real in our everyday lives.

Do you write your own music and what goes into the songwriting process? Do you write specifically for artists or write in general?

Yes. I always write my own music. My song writing usually lays emphasis on a subject and most of the emphasizing is done on the hook of the song. I do both. I write in general and I also write specifically for artistes. I also write some songs from hearing a beat.

As I scanned your biography, I noticed that in addition to being a classically trained pianist, you are also a drummer and a guitarist. Which instrument was your first love, the keys or the drums?

Actually my instrument is the guitar. I play rhythm guitar and understand the rudiments and theory of the guitar. I just have a little feel for drums and could hold a rhythm but not really a drummer. The guitar is really my instrument.

How are the people outside Ghana appreciating your music?

People outside of Ghana actually appreciate my music more than my fellow Ghanaians do. I am more of a reggae musician and as such I have more following in the Caribbean (mostly Jamaica), United States (especially New York), Europe and Japan. I am well supported by many Ghanaians in New York though and my deepest appreciation and gratitude to them.

How are you finding being an artiste as well as the business man?

Being an artist and a business man is very difficult and tasking but I am glad I can do that because most artistes cannot do it so they usually fade away if they don’t get a good record deal. In my case I don’t need a record deal to be successful in music or to stay in the game because I know how to make my own money. Most musicians have gone out of business because they cannot run a business. They need to be spoon-fed. I don’t. The world is changing and in whatever you do you have to be business-minded. It’s a challenge having to worry about finances, writing, composing and performing at the same time. Sometimes it affects my productivity but the positive outweighs the negative. Being business-minded toughens an individual. It also gives me the freedom to do what I want as a musician. I write and produce what I want to because I own the record label. It can be stressful being afraid that things might fall apart but I have faith in the Lord.

Have you found it difficult building up working relationships when looking for someone who looks out for your best interests?

Yes. I have had some difficulties sometimes trying to work with some people who sometimes are looking out for your best interest because as different individuals we have different views.

Are you signed to a record label? Have you been approached by one?

No. I am not signed to a record label. I have no reason to do that. I can finance my own record label. One of my artistes has been approached by one for a gospel deal. We are at very early stage of the negotiation. I don’t know what my future plans will be because some offers are sometimes too good to turn down. However, I hope to make my record label bigger and will not have to worry about working for someone.

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?

My sound is usually cultural classic reggae like songs of Inner Circles and other great reggae bands like steel pulse. I don’t restrict myself to reggae. I also do some Jamaican Dance hall, Hip life dancehall, reggae Jazz and also produce Caribbean and African gospel.

You double up as a songwriter and producer. Which role do you prefer and why? What specific things do you look for in an artist before you’ll work with them?

Songwriting is my favorite thing. I love the art of putting words together and making them rhyme. I love the art of breaking things down in a simple form and being informative to the people. As a musician, I am an observer, a teacher and a counselor. My training in writing poetry at an early age gives me the strength to write good music. The main qualities I look for in an artiste is someone who can be aggressive, radical, conscious and a strongly motivated individual with the thirst to succeed.

You have with a number of reggae artistes, performing and recording with them. How has it been to work with some big names like Mellow Wayne, Jah Tempo, Lady S and Tilly Beng?

Working with Jamaican artistes has been my best experience in my music carrier. Most of them started singing from the day they were born. There is something unique about Jamaica and reggae music. That little Island produces so much talent every year and you talking about internationally recognized talents. No wander it is the home of Rastafari. Music is a spiritual thing that is what many fools don’t know. We have stability in the camp. Like one journalist referred to John Q Records as a movement not just a record label and indeed it is a movement to initiate African & Caribbean Unity. I have worked with Mellow Wayne for 7 years, Jah tempo for 7 years as well and Lady S also for 7 years and 2 years with Tilly Beng. We are very united and try to squash any misunderstanding as quickly as possible. All artistes in the group are great performers and have their own following.

Are there any new artists out there that you’re interested in working with?

At the moment I am working on a Ghanaian gospel album for Evelyn Kwakye. I am not really looking for artistes at the moment because I have a lot of songs that I am promoting and have to finish up an album for 4 more of my artistes. I am not in the position to take on another artist unless the artist has something extra ordinarily well. We can never say "never". I am opened to the idea of doing some more work with a few more Ghanaian artistes like Samini , Wutah, Sarkodie and of course Bright of Buk Bak again.

What does it feel like to perform in front of a crowd who feel and really respond to your music?

When performing to people that feel and appreciate what one is singing is a great feeling that cannot be described. It gives me an adrenaline rush and also gives me the power to control the emotions of the crowd/audience.

What has been the greatest moment of your music career?

The greatest moment of my music career was when I did a show in the North Bronx with the Unity Reggae Band. It was a charity concert which featured reggae artistes from the Bronx and Brooklyn. I was scheduled to perform last and got nervous when I saw how well the artistes who performed prior to me did. I got so nervous I started panicking and decided to be calm. Also I was the only non-Jamaican artist performing that night. When I was called to the stage some people in the audience were surprised I was also there to perform. I took the mic and sang out the introduction for the song "sweat" by inner circles. As I screamed ": I"ve been watching you all la la la la along long li long long long" I heard people banging on the walls and tables. I was told to pull up and rewind the tune each time I started singing the tune. By the time the tune was done I was sweating and the entire room was sweating. Lady S walked up to me and said " John Q. If you can come and rock a reggae night concert for Jamaicans, they appreciate your work then you have a future in reggae music because Jamaica is the homeland of reggae music". I felt good as a musician and was proud I represented Africa that night.

What would your advice be to an aspiring songwriter who wants to showcase his material to the music biz, how should he/she proceed?

An aspiring song writer or musician who wants to show case their music should have it at the back of the minds that the quality of the product must be good. It is better to focus on one single. Make sure that single is strong and also start creating a buzz with that single prior to approaching a record label or any type of investor. It’s more about quality not quantity.

Which advice would you give aspiring songwriters in terms of songwriting itself?

My advice to song writers about song writing itself is that the music must come from the heart. Don’t write a song because it is the popular subject at stake. Write the song that lingers on your mind all the time.

You’ve had a lot of studio experience through the years. What advice would you give to bands to best prepare them for the recording process?

My advice to bands for better preparation for recording is rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal.

If you could dramatically change some aspect of the music industry, what would you do?

I would like to change the fact that violent and degrading music is more glorified. I would promote and reward music with spiritual, motivational and informative ingredients more than the stupid superficial and shallow music that tend to be more patronized due to the spiritual and moral decay in society.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a well established record label with record shops in New York City, Accra and London. I am on a mission to establishing something progressive in Ghana and Jamaica (would not like to disclose the details of that).

So what’s set for 2011?

The agenda for 2011 is promoting the new album and music DVD I released. I am going to Ghana for the first time in 20 yrs. Will be performing and promoting in Europe, Africa, Asia, United States and Jamaica of course. 2011 is all about a lot of travelling. I will be going to Jamaica soon with the Unity Band. I am looking forward to that. Also I will be dropping the first Ghanaian gospel album by Evelyn Kwakye. In short, 2011 is the year of travelling to spread the word. Thanks to the Lord Almighty.

       Well, as you would expect, more people recognize you for your work. But I think, more so, there is a certain validation that I have in their eyes now. The only expectation is to keep making GOOD music!

For more information on John Q, follow him on Twitter (@ReggaeStorm) or visit his official website:

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.