When I was younger, I couldn’t sing that well, and I couldn’t dance that well. I started dancing at what seemed way too late in life, and when I started ballet classes I was older than all the girls, felt like an outsider, and didn’t like it. I moved countries from the UK to Canada when I was 12, and that messed with everything in me, as well as my accent, my culture and my candy. ( To this day I buy my candy at the British candy store lol ). The one style of dance I wanted to learn (hip hop), they didn’t even offer in my city at the time. I needed to dance like Michael Jackson, and there was no one in sight that could teach me and no Youtube back then either. I settled for being great at piano and double bass. That was ok for me at the time, but, as well as knowing I wanted to play piano, I knew I wanted to sing and dance. I couldn’t sing like the other girls and guys I was surrounded by at music school. I was so inspired by them and wanted to be like them. I thought they were all going to be famous when we all grew up.
Every time I tried out for community or school theatre, I always ended up being in the chorus, because I just didn’t “fit” the parts. Sometime I wondered if it was because “white” girls needed to be the leads, but maybe I really just wasn’t good enough. Even one time, there was an “indian” part in the play Peter Pan – the character Tiger Lily – and I was SURE I was going to get it, because I was the ONLY brown girl in the cast. But NO! It went to an older white women. WOW. I was heartbroken. However, in my high school I had the most amazing drama teacher who gave me a shot. Karen Cunningham was her name. She changed alot of lives and inspired many whom she taught. I wasn’t even planning on auditioning for the play “The Secret Garden” But Ms. Cunningham personally asked me to try out for a part that she thought I’d be great at. I got the role. Not only that, but it was during those rehearsals that a friend of mine – Lisa Brown, taught me backstage how to sing with vibrato. I think I was 15. I’d never taken a singing lesson, and I guess that could have been classified as my first official one. It was really the beginning of my journey in becoming a singer. I practiced hours at home and tried to find my voice.
After that I sang the most at church. I thought that is where I’d end up. “Singing for Jesus” as people would say. I was in bands with my best friends, and even toured. We had a few incredible pastors that really helped us shine, but in the end, as young passionate people, and like too many artists in the church, we had a hard time trying to bring our relevant sound into something that was very traditional. Times have definitely changed, but back then, there didn’t seem like there was room for us. I was singing Hillsong songs when Hillsong wasn’t even cool yet.
And here I am today. If you had to stick me in a genre – thought it’s not easy to put me in a box – I sing Pop music. I still “sing for Jesus” too, though my favourite times doing that are when it’s just me and my piano with a candle in my music room. I sing and play my piano, and even do a little dancing every now and then on a real stage. I’ve sang for audiences of 30 000, and I still sing for audiences of 1. I’ve had ups and downs, great achievements, nominations, awards, and hit singles. I’ve worked my tail off, spent too much money, had incredible blessings and gifts, and I’m sitting here wondering if I still have that “SPARKLE” – that “IT” factor – if you will. People say I do, but the more I work with artists and the older I get, the more I wonder if I have “IT”. I don’t need to explain what IT is. Everyone knows from watching too many reality singing shows. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a great career in music if you don’t have “IT”. But sometimes you just see when someone sparkles. I know when I see the sparkle. When Britney Spears came out years ago, the first time I saw her on TV I said to my friends, “That girl is going to be a MEGASTAR!” It was her first single and no one had barely heard of her. There’s another girl that has “IT”. She’s a local girl named Victoria Duffield. She’s amazing, and I have that same feeling about her that I did Britney. Just watch!
2 hit radio singles in, a new album, and I’m having a “so what” moment haha. And am I really legit? I had a pretty great conversation with an industry friend of mine, as I struggle with how to go to radio all over again, and he said something that totally encouraged me. He said every new single, album and release is a brand new story, even for established artists. I know its a risk even if I’ve had past huge successes. So, I carry on. And there is room for diversity in Canada. The words gave me hope that I can do this. I know
I can do this. Alot of people – I believe – can really do anything they put their minds too. But I don’t want to just work hard and be good. I want to SPARKLE.