soulhead: Tell our readers how you got started singing
Tai Allen: I am a polymath at the pure, base sense of the word. Since I was young, I would switch art forms to express myself. Singing has always been a channel option to express an emotion. And, as a way to get women to smile at me. Both mean something at a young age. Now both mean even more: people need to know feelings matter. Not being sensitive but having real feelings in art. And, I still like to make women smile.
But there are moments when poetry, design/painting or dance work better. I am not always successful with the medium choice but the options are available.
soulhead: What was the inspiration behind this project?
Tai Allen: It is hard for men to discuss trauma. Hard for all people but men are taught to be rough and rugged. I thought the conversation of abuse and control can be displayed in a macho way.
There is no reason to believe a real man cannot express his anger or hurt. It is powerful and noticeable when we do.
soulhead: Who are some of your peer artists that you admire?
Usher, Raheem Devaughn, John Legend, Beyonce, Jigga, Oddisee, Masego, Dasan Ahanu, Diggs Duke, Thundercat, Coldplay, Radiohead…
Way too many!! but Charif S., Nicholas Nichols, Patricia Spears Jones, Dasan Ahanu, Sunni Paterson, tyehemba jess, Picasso Washington, Kimbi…
Talib Kweli, dasan ahanu, Picasso Washington, Nicholas, Camoghne Felix, Sunni, Kimbi, Oddisee, W. Ellington Felton, Marcell Russell [and his art], Jessica Care Moore, Bradd Marquis et al
soulhead: If you could do a collaboration with any singer dead or alive, who would it be?
Two come to mind:
Horace Silver – I was created to sing over his piano. I get his tone. I love how I blend into his music.
Styles P. – We are extended fam and I even own a nickname he gave me. Since HS, I have adored his approach to sports, music and life. Soon, I will make my family a sick set of jawns to rock over.
soulhead: How has being a singer in NYC helped you? hurt You?
Tai Allen: Unsure in either direction. I will have to say it has helped. It allows me to meet wonderful people — artists and lovers of art. And, it lets me be a voice for people.
soulhead: On your project, you have a song called “The Drinking Song” and we know you have been involved with Tap+Cork: Brooklyn Beer & Wine Festival soooo what is your fave type of beer (e.g. lager) and beer brand. Same question for wine.
BEER: IPAs and Pilsners, with a special nod to fermented Ginger Beer
By the way, Tap+Cork happens on August 12 at Restoration Plaza in the Bedford Stuyvesant Section of Brooklyn Get your tickets here [shameless plug].
soulhead: Why did you decide to create a book to accompany the music with this project?
Felt like the right thing to do! Make something for non-poetry cats to hold onto. Give them an attachment. Even if the poems never hit them the urgency and feelings of the music could get folks to consider my want: we all have trauma and we can emerge from it.
For poetry lovers, the goal was to give them something authentic and melodic but not full of poems. Though, if anyone pays close attention the instrumentals are crafted to feel like music poems.
Check out Tai Allen’s new project No Jewels
Download the book by clicking here