Our interview with talented Music artist, actress, Yogi and philanthropist Ezina.
Her music can be described as a mashup of Donna DeLory, Pink and Lenny Kravitz with the flow of Erykah Badu. Her unique style is a fusion of rock music with different music genres including soulful beats, funk, and sacred chants. She uses her poems and music to convey empowering and inspirational messages to her audience.
Ezina’s latest release Awakening is a 10 song collection of inspirational R&B, Reggae and Funk enveloped with hooky melodies, infectious grooves and sacred mantras.
Please tell us a little about you?
I was born in Flint, Michigan, a town which right now does not have clean water, but I grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan. In 1998 I was crowned Miss Black USA and that win gave me the opportunity to tour the entire US and Canada. After my reign, I attended the University of Michigan and later Juilliard, from which I dropped out to go on tour with my band. I currently live in the Los Angeles area where I write books, record music and host the weekly Guitar Goddess Show.
When did you start, and when did you know this was the professional life for you?
My first professional recording was at 3 years old when I sang Benny & The Jets by Elton John. I knew then that I had never loved anything more than bringing a smile to people’s faces by entertaining them.
I knew at a young age that I would be a professional entertainer. It was cemented for me in high school when I started winning talent contests. Even though my parents had high hopes that I would become a lawyer or doctor, there was never any doubt in my mind how my life would unfold. Having professional musicians in my family and watching their careers, I knew what my life purpose was to be. I was willing to train and train hard. I was willing to give up hanging out with my friends so that I could practice. I was focused and determined to reach my goal.
What kind of music did you grow up with?
I grew up surrounded by all kinds of music. I would watch Hee Haw and the Grand Ole Opry with my grandparents and I loved Dolly Parton and Charo. My parents listened to Motown, Funk, my uncle Bobby Womack and cousin Stevie Wonder,Joan Jett and the Rolling Stones. In addition, we watched Soul Train every Saturday and listened to Gospel music, so you can say I was exposed to a lot of different music growing up.
Who was your music inspiration at that moment, and who is now?
Growing up I was heavily influenced by Diana Ross and Prince. I wanted to strut around the stage in ball gowns and play my guitar. Now I am still influenced by Diana Ross and Prince but also Krishna Das. I strut around the stage in ball gowns with my guitar and chant sacred prayers.
What kind of music do you listen on daily basis?
Every day I listen to Opera, Funk, Rock and Sacred Chant Music
On your point of view, how is the music scene right now?
I think that the music scene is so alive right now. Never before have we had access to so much music! New genres are forming daily and it’s easy to hear music from around the world. This is an exciting time to be a musician or a music fan.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Funky. Inspiring. Fun.
What is next for you?
Right now I am in the studio working on my new album which will be released in Fall of 2017. I will be heading out on a 10 city tour starting in September.
Any exciting news you want to share with us?
Yes my new book Grow Your Star was just released. It’s about following your dreams and creating miracles in your life. I feel that everyone is a star. Just like the stars in the sky we are all stars made of stardust. We all have star powers we just need to have the courage to share and shine. Your star power is that thing that you do that no one else can do. The thing that you Loooooove to do! The thing that you would do for free. The thing that you do so easily that helps or brings joy to others. My prayer is that my book will give readers the courage to shine a light on themselves. We were all taught to be humble. I think we misunderstood what that means exactly. Being humble doesn’t mean keeping your gifts hidden. Shine. Be The Light. Be The Lighthouse.
Tell us about the Guitar Goddess Awards?
Guitar Goddess Awards is an awards celebration that I created to honor female guitarists from around the world. Each year we celebrate the hottest female guitarists and honor their contribution to the music industry. The Guitar Goddess Awards will be taking place in January 2018. Visit guitargoddess.com for more details.
How would you describe your style?
My style is Rock and Funk mixed with Sacred Chants.
How’s your typical day?
When I am not on tour, I typically rise at 4:30 am to do my Sadhana practice which consists of prayer, meditation, chanting and a 90 minute yoga set. From there I shower, do an hour of vocal exercises, an hour of guitar practice, an hour of acting exercises, 45 minutes of dance and an hour of piano practice. I follow that with a 4-6 hour writing session or a recording session. After this, I take meetings and respond to any phone calls or emails. My evenings are usually spent either networking or hanging out with my family. We usually go out to listen to bands play, the opera when it’s in season, local theatre or hear the symphony.
Best advice ever given?
“No” is a complete sentence.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a DIY girl. I have an abundance of DIY projects. I’m usually making mala beads, kombucha, vegan soy- free yogurt, Switchel, soap, deodorant, face cream or perfume. There’s always something brewing in my kitchen. I also love cooking and gardening.
Any tips that you can give to upcoming talent?
Don’t wait for someone to hire you. Hire yourself first. Get out there and make something happen. Build your own audience. Your mailing list is your ATM and your lifeline. If you don’t have a mailing list start one today. Send out a newsletter at least once a month. Take care of your mailing list. Take care of your body. Take care of your money. Start investing today. Don’t wait until you get that tv or movie deal. Compound interest is real. Talent is subjective, never take rejection to heart. You are a star. Shine.
What do you like to watch on tv?
I love shows on Quantum Physics or Sci-Fi. I am unapologetically a GEEK.
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
The weather is a balmy 80 degrees, All the windows in my home are open and Billie Holiday is playing throughout the house on the Sonos system. The smells of my favorite foods are in the air and I am surrounded by all of my friends and family as they talk, laugh, eat and have a good time.
Do you support any charity?
There are several charities that I support that are near and dear to my heart.
Step Up Women’s Network, I have been with Step Up since 2009. We support young girls who are underserved in our community. We mentor them and help them prepare for college and for life.
My favorite event is each year, we have a day where all of the members show up wearing their college shirts and we talk to the girls about our college experience. The girls ask such wonderful questions and it just warms my heart seeing these young ladies blossom.
Step Up also provides college tours where the girls go on college tours so they can see what their future holds. Each year at the inspiration awards the girls get to speak about how Step Up has helped them and there is not a dry eye in the house. suwn.org
Go Red For Women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. I have lost several family members to this terrible disease and have pledged to do all I can to help. I have been a sponsor of the red dress campaign since its inception and each year I hold an event where I auction off a red guitar with all proceeds going to the American Heart Association. goredforwomen.org
Guitars Over Guns is another organization that I support. Guitars Over Guns provides mentoring to at-risk youth through music and arts education as an alternative to life in gangs or on the street. In Miami alone 3000 at-risk kids have been redirected to music through Guitars over Guns. New cities are being added each year. guitarsoverguns.org
What do you think about social media in the music business?
Social media hasn’t really changed the music business from an operational standpoint.
Under the old system, records and CDs were always loss leaders for artists. Under the new system, CDs are still loss leaders for artists. The money collected for records sales traditionally went back to the labels to pay for advances, production and promotion. With music being streamed on Amazon, Apple, Google & Spotify,artists are being paid pennies for their streams. Artists have always made the most money from touring, endorsements and merchandising. This hasn’t changed.
What has changed is that social media has opened the gateway for other artists to get in without waiting on a lucky break. I love that social media has created a new way to build a fanbase and distribute music. Artists have the power to go straight to their fan bases and bypass the labels completely in a way that is cost effective. This allows all artists more freedom to experiment and to release projects more frequently. It’s a wonderful way to see what’s working and what’s not without wasting millions of dollars.
Labels will always exist but now they operate mostly as banks. Labels used to find raw talent, develop, polish, package and promote. Now they are scouring the internet looking for the next big thing. Labels want you to come to them polished, well promoted and packaged. So since artist are doing 90% of the work they now have a choice. To stay indie and control their destiny or to go Major. I see major labels as banks who lend money to artists to produce bigger budget projects, but with all of the fan financing going on, they may need to rethink their business model.
Where we can follow you?
Favorite food: Indian
Travel destination: Positano, Italy
Celebrity Crush: Stephen Colbert
Actor/Actress: Russell Brand
Quote: Shine bright. The world needs your beautiful light.
Book: Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting- Lynn Grabhorn
Movie: Three Way Tie- Avatar, Matrix, Amelie
Drink: Green Juice with Kale, Celery, Lemon and Apple