R&B Soul Sensation Roz Shepard
Roz Shepard, Blue Magic, The Ultimate Persuaders will be performing live Tuesday night, September 16th, 6:00 pm at NY Perks, located at 193 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11201, and every Tuesday night thereafter.
Roz sat down with BSN’s Brenda Jeanne Wyche at Brooklyn’s favorite neighborhood chat spot, Bread Stuy, for a peek inside the soul of the diva. It manifests into an inspiring true story of reflection, redemption, forgiveness and what ties Rozalyn Lorae Shepard into the fabric of a sound that has revolutionized R&B to this day.
BSN: Roz, one can only imagine how you must feel about this new and exhilarating chapter in your life. I wish you could describe it for me. Wanna give it a shot?
Roz Shepard: Well Brenda, I am happy about the things that are taking place. I've waited all my life to experience a time when I went after something I wanted and actually had it materialize on the level or scale I saw in my dreams. I haven't reached the point where I am excited yet. This is because there is so much going on behind the scenes I have to take care of. I'm more focused on those things. It's also because I know what the big picture should be and I’m not there yet.
The few things that initially began to happen were enough for me. Like finishing the album, getting excellent feedback from the test market stage, having my music played on the radio internationally. I was ecstatic and so humbly grateful to God for the acceptance of my artistic expression. But, what is happening now is that I'm finding that the big picture I see and thought would materialize in about a few years is all materializing "RIGHT NOW". I’m so busy I don't have the time to be excited. Also, I'm in a learning experience mode and can't afford to get excited or I might fumble the ball. This is my first album. I've never done this before. All my mental and emotional energy goes into making sure all the elements and components of this project are well in place. It’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I have to know what pieces go where to bring out the picture I see in my vision. I will be able to allow excitement to take over once I've snapped all the major pieces in place as one thing happening leads to another set of work on components that are also a part of the picture. Like finishing the album required me to physically find my market, get opportunities to perform for them and gain their respect. I was happy about doing an album and I felt good about the fact that I thought it was quality work, but I didn't really feel a sense of achievement until my market confirmed the quality of my work, because to me, self praise is no recommendation. I wanted to know what my audience felt about my work and that was scary. A lot of people say they can sing, but when you actually hear them, well that's another story. I didn’t want to go out like that. I wanted to know what the public thinks. It went well.
Another example of how one thing happens and creates other major things that have to be done is once I found the test market feedback to be positive and I had pretty much mastered doing shows singing with tracks, it was time to begin doing live shows which meant getting a band. With getting a band came the question of with my current circumstances how am I going to pay them, pay for studio time etc.? Then with the show came more logistical and financial obstacles. These things are just a hint of the responsibilities, work and detail that comes with it achieving your dream.
Also, I've had to be so focused on making sure all the elements are in place because I only have one shot to make a mark as being an artist to reckon with. I want to be nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist of the Year. I can't afford to come off on a mediocre scale. My fans deserve more than that. Through all of this I'm discovering for myself what people have told me for years but didn't matter to me. I've been told so many times I have a gift. I am beginning to see it just a little bit. As with any gift it is a present, something to be taken very seriously and not for granted by making the mistake of getting caught up in the spotlight when it's truly the behind the scenes details that makes one a star. What's seen in the spotlight is the finished product of the process and I'm fortunate enough to be the one calling the shots for myself. With this come responsibility that artists whose label foots the bill and calls the shots, doesn't have to handle, but the artist in most cases not in control of their project, their label is. That’s not for me.
The big picture is huge for me. In addition to singing I want to produce and host a radio show. I also want to produce and host a TV show again. I thought the album would be one stage, the radio show another and the TV show and other things in my plan would happen over the years. But, because of the success of the album, these opportunities are presenting themselves now requiring me to keep a level head to make good choices.
My excitement was quenched when I realized that after years of investing my time, knowledge and resources in the dreams of people who I thought were my friends, it was me, myself and I when it came to working on my dreams. The true colors of people I had diligently worked for came out when it was their turn to help me. Also, I stepped out on faith and did this project. I was granted 10 days leave from my job and the day after I went on leave they sent me a letter stating they had to fill my job. I couldn't find adequate work, I owed my landlord over $10,000. There were times when I wasn’t sure I would have food to eat, or lights etc. Friends and family I thought would be there for me literally turned their backs, but now they're asking for back stage passes. I've learned first hand that people innately don't care about you. Even the ones I did things for, when I needed them they showed me that it was really all about them. That hurt because there was nothing I wouldn't do for them. So I'm working very hard because I never want to be in that position ever again in life.
So there you have it on an intellectual level. On a spiritual level my soul is rejoicing. There are times when I subconsciously begin to thank God within myself and the words God I love you, God I thank you come out of my mouth. I've been through so much, but I always knew God would always be there for me. I have never known a truly happy day in my life, but some how I know my sad days are soon over. My life story is similar to the bible character Joseph, I would say Job, but Job knew what it was to have money and happiness at one time in his life before his sufferings, but I on the other hand have silently suffered all my life, from childhood (wrote a book about it). But, I held on to the belief that God has a purpose and a plan for me. Although I've only known pain and disappointment, I knew one day it would all make sense to me. This helped me accept the thought that I was being prepared for something that would touch the lives of others on a deep level. I thought it would come through my business or political endeavors. But, my blessing is coming through something I love to do most, and that is sing. Somehow I feel the album is just a vehicle to take me to doing what I want to do most, and that is touch hearts, encourage people who are hurting and release them from their pain if only for an hour or two.
BSN: How did you start the wild ride of music entertainment?
Roz Shepard: Music has been a part of my life since I was in my mother’s womb. Partying and singing was an outlet of expression for my parents. Having family over to listen to music and celebrate was a regular thing in our house. I can remember being younger than age 7, my parents would have my sisters and I come in at every party and impersonate The Supremes during family get-togethers. My mom also sang in the church choir and we [siblings] had to sing on the choir, too. My dad’s influence was a result of spending quality time with me as a teenager. He and I would listen to music together. Dad taught me how to appreciate music and understand how each instrument contributed to the whole composition. But, it was the church choir director who discovered I had quality in my voice and that is who inspired and encouraged me and helped me cultivate my desire to sing professionally. As a child, people loved to hear me sing that old church hymn, “Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door.” And I think I sang that song for five years. They even had the remix on it. They put me in concerts and the funny thing I liked about myself was that I would get angry when they would try to make me compete against other singers. This was church for Christ’s sake, I wasn’t singing that song to compete; I was singing it from my heart.
BSN: What can listeners expect from your new cd, Sense-U-Alilty?
There is so much I could tell you here, the name Sense-U-Ality occurred to me for a number of reasons. One is I believe that sensuality is a part of the male, female experience, but, in too many cases, the “Sense” is missing when it comes to the things we accept in our relationships. Keeping it real, I must say some women think they can get and keep a man with their body and there are men who think they can get and keep a woman with money. It doesn’t work. Listeners, male and female, can expect to find food for thought from each story that is in the form of a song that was written about things you feel and that happen in a relationship. Reason number 2 is I can’t sing a, “you took my mate, but their mine” kind of song. That doesn’t make “sense” to me because no one can make anyone’s legs walk away and leave you, and no one can make your mate’s body part do what it doesn’t want to do. If someone leaves you, or cheats on you, it is because that is what they chose to do. So the “Boy is mine, he’s just with you for now until I win him back” kind of song isn’t for me.
Reason number 3, why the name Sense-U-Ality occurred to me is because I believe that a woman should be sensuous and seductive. By nature, that is who we are. But too often I’ve spoken with men in my business dealings, who speak about women who try to use their bodies rather than their intellect to get what they want. Personally, I’ve been a person who has always built my business on my brains, not my back. In my business circles, the men call me one of the boys because they know they can forget about getting next me because when it comes to business that is all it’s about for me. I don’t leave home without the “sense” in my “sensuality”. There is too much to lose, like your reputation!!!
BSN: Has that stance affected your success timeline as an artist?
That’s an excellent question, Brenda. I have faith in God and myself. I do my part and do it well on every level. I leave the timing to God. I know other people play a role in making it happen. In fact, a few have blatantly told me they weren’t going to help me until I gave them what they wanted, if you know what I mean. But, I’m here! And that is because I know that success is something that is defined by me, and destined for me by God. I know the role God plays in my success as well as what my purpose is. If my purpose or success cannot be achieved through singing, then I know I have to find another vehicle to achieve it with. Therefore, when someone presents me with a proposition that violates my spirit, my morals and my principles, and it has happened, I know that’s not coming from a person who has or ever will have my best interest at heart so why waste my time. And I don’t entertain their request. Money and the spotlight is not my primary definition of success. They just come with the territory. Refusing is not going to stop me from getting where I am eventually going to be. If there is anything I’m going to succeed in, it is going to be because it is a divine appointment in my life to do so. I don’t think I should bow down to someone’s unreasonable requests or demands to succeed. That’s my mental and emotional starting point. A lot of times people feel desperate and will do anything to get where they want to go. I’m no one’s judge because I haven’t walked in their shoes. But, if you want to know about being desperate, I had lost my job, had no business coming and was about to lose my apartment when I started this project. Yet I stayed true to who I am. Stay true to yourself. There’s a price to pay, but, it will happen and it will happen on your terms as this album did for me.
The first single on the album, “You Chose To Be With Her,” I wrote sitting in my kitchen. It’s about decisions – “Are we going to break up or are we going to try to work this out?” He tried to make me think we were working it out so I wouldn’t date anyone else, but he was dating on the side. Hmmm, there is a very climactic message in that song.
BSN: That’s a great song, Roz. One of my faves on the album. WOW! The multi-talented Roz Shepard! So, Roz, did you write both, the melody and the lyrics to the songs?
Roz Shepard: I wrote the lyrics, my co-producer did the melody. Listeners must check out “Time To Think Of Me”, oh and “Heat” gets me in trouble every time I sing it live, and “I can’t Wait” and “Never Gonna Let You Go” are something special too and there’s more on the CD.
BSN: What is the name of your co-producer?
Roz Shepard: His name is James Simmons. He’s an incredible musician – a musical genius who plays 14 musical instruments. James is a four-decade veteran in the music industry who has worked with everyone – Sister Sledge, Crown Heights Affair, Evelyn Champagne King, toured with Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, Freddie Jackson, Mary J. Blige, -- just everybody.
BSN: What can your audience expect on Tuesday at NY Perks?
Roz Shepard: Every show is going to blow the roof off. I get in my zone and I’m going to bring everyone along with me. Blue Magic and The Persuaders are going to be in the house that night and my incredible band is going to blow everyone’s mind and keep you on your feet. Each week we will have surprise celebrity appearances.
BSN: What else would you like to share, Roz?
Roz Shepard: I’m really happy to have embarked on this journey, and yes I said happy. But I’ve learned something of great importance that I would like to share: When you’re reaching for your goal, sometimes you will find yourself all alone and there will be no one who really understands. Every time you feel that way just know you are closer to your dreams than you think. Make adjustments along the way, but never let anyone, or anything make you give up. Don’t give up until you get to the other side. You are and it is worth the struggle.
R&B Soul Sensation Roz Shepard will be performing live at NY Perks, located at 193 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11201, starting Tuesday, September 16th at 6:00 pm and every Tuesday thereafter. For more information, visit http://www.rozshepard.com, or email: RozShepard@yahoo.com.
Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor for Harlem Business News. If you have
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