One of the primary qualifications for anyone selected to be featured in The COLLECTIV series is to be truly authentic. I mean down-to-the-bone true in the way they create, deliver, and live their gift in this world. Singer/Actress/Songrwriter and everyone’s favorite soul sister, Monica Blaire has one of the most authentic souls I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Believe me, one listen to her music and a read of the following interview…will make you an instant fan.
Originally posted June 1, 2017
Photography | Clifford L. Johnson Make Up | Natalie Nicole Johnson Styling | Crystal Lariece
If my words were to fail me and I was only able to define authenticity through sound, it would be her. Despite growing up in neighboring cities, our paths did not cross until we were both well into our adult lives and I subsequently had my LIFE given to me as I delved into the melodic world that is Monica Blaire. At at time when music leaves so much to be desired, the freedom that erupts from her art is breathtaking and much appreciated.
Please allow me to introduce to you to our first 2017 Honoree of The COLLECTIV, Monica Blaire.
Crystal Lariece (CL): Where do you draw most of the inspiration for your music?
Monica Blaire (MB): From life, when the water is running, when things are happy, when things are challenging, friends, family, conversations, travel, people watching…LOL, from EVERYWHERE. For me creation is more a constant rumination in spirit than anything else. The goal as an artist is to stay open and in the flow of awareness. Inspiration is everywhere when you stay open to access it and are willing to drop whatever you are doing to receive it.
CL: As an Independent Creative, what has been your greatest challenge in developing your brand?
MB: My greatest challenge has been trying to convey the randomness of my creative process to my audience. Commercialized creativity is a homogenized version of what true creativity is all about. It’s a refined shadow of the range of emotions, effort, and work that an artist puts into their work. People often only experience the final product. When art is your life, and creativity is happening moment to moment, the end result can look disjointed especially when you create in more than one medium. My biggest challenge has been connecting the dots for my audience so that they fully understand the why and the how of what I do.
CL: Describe your Creative Renaissance. When did you recognize your creative purpose?
MB: Very early on…let my mom tell it I sang before I spoke, LOL. I’m not certain that there was an “aha” moment for me because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to do this or I wasn’t working towards it. I always wanted to create. It was always cathartic and I always wanted people to feel free in the presence of art and sharing it with an audience.
Actually giving words to my platform as an exercise in freedom and love came much later. When my first project came out (‘Portraits of Me’ Silent Riot 2006) I was very much championing women and young girls to be multifaceted instead of the one dimensional model of women that society perpetuated. That journey has brought me to where I am currently which is self-actualization through my art. Being able to own and love my individuality no matter who is present in my life and what is going on around me. I guess the answer to your question is creative renaissance happens over and over in an artist’s career if they are continuing to grow in their art.
Commercialized creativity is a homogenized version of what true creativity is all about. It’s a refined shadow of the range of emotions, effort, and work that an artist puts into their work.
CL: Millennial Creatives are often faced with ridicule when it comes to pursuing a non-traditional career path, what would be your best advice to those who are ready to take the leap, but is fearful of failing?
MB: My best advice would be to listen to your inner voice. Creatives are so tapped into that little voice because it’s where the art comes from. Listening to that voice will inform you of all you need to know and how you can make it manifest in the world. Most people do not commune with themselves in this way and are fearful of those who move on things yet to be seen. If you create a plan out of what you know to be your path and stay consistent with the plan all the nay sayers will turn into cheerleaders. Be true to yourself and create your own convention. Nurture it and watch it grow and watch the conversation around what you do change.
….creative renaissance happens over and over in an artist’s career if they are continuing to grow in their art.
Eclectic is the way to describe Monica Blaire. Classical, Rock, R&B, Soul, Gospel, Funk, Hip-Hop, Techno, and Pop playfully coexist freely in the world she creates one stage at time. In every performance, her need to connect with the listener comes first. After becoming a 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow in the Performing Arts and touring in 2014 with Tyler Perry’s Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned (available everywhere on DVD) Monica Blaire is gearing up to take the world by storm with her powerful performances and uncanny musical expression.
Monica has worked with artists ranging from Roy Ayers, PPP, her own band the RackPack, Dwele, Black Milk, ZO!, and rocked historical venues including Joe’s Pub (NY), The Shrine (CHI), and the DIA (in her hometown, Detroit). Her latest project is experimental music with a minimal approach that is dubbed “sound art”. She is playing with the everyday around her and creating audio snapshots of her experiences. This music and the process of making it is introducing Ms. Blaire as much more than just a singer. She is solidifying her place as an ever evolving creative presence.
Video courtesy of Monica Blaire | Filmed by Clifford L. Johnson
Experience more of Monica’s music on SoundCloud here.