The Pop Culture Junkie | Get Addicted
Sunday, February 04, 2007
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It's her Grammy Moment and she's needs your vote to sing with Justin Timberlake!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Africa Miranda about her journey to the Grammy stage. She's sweet and personable and her spirit is a great as her voice!

MELODY: First, if you wouldn’t mind, telling some of the readers a little bit about yourself, who is Africa Miranda? Which I must say is just a beautiful name.
AFRICA: Thank you, and yes, [laughs] I’m so glad you put that in there, yes that is my real name, because that’s such a big question that everyone thought that was my stage name. But my real name is Africa Miranda. I’m originally from and born in born in Boston, Massachusetts, but raised in Montgomery, Alabama, so that’s what I call home. I’ve been in New York for almost the last four years, I’m recording, writing, and performing a lot the last year, and just working on my craft and hoping for a big break like this and it’s happened. So, here I am.

M: How long have you been pursuing music professionally?
A: Well professionally I would probably say 5 or 6 years, because right before I moved to New York I was in Montgomery, which is only a couple of hours from Atlanta, I was going up there, meeting with producers doing some recording in Montgomery and Atlanta, but when I got the opportunity to move to New York I jumped at it. Because, it’s one of those things where you get to do it on the big stage, then that’s where you want to go. And so when I got here, that’s just where I’ve been going for a while.

M: So we’re going to fast forward to today and we’re in the My Grammy Moment Contest, how did you find out about it?
A: Well it’s kind of a funny story, I saw the story online, didn’t think anything of it and the same day one of my great friends that I grew up with and also one of my line sisters, both sent me messages saying “there’s this contest…you should enter” and so when I’d seen their messages and I’d just seen the story, I said let me look at this again, I got home and I was reading over the Yahoo website about the contest, I’m thinking to myself I have a webcam so what do I have to lose. So I clipped it to the top of my laptop and uploaded the video and here I am.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usM: Did you imagine you make it to the top 12, let alone the top 5?
A: It’s one of those things where as far as my talent and drive, I deserve to be here, I deserve to be in the 12, I deserve to be in the 5, I think I deserve to be in the three and I deserve to win, but you just never know when you do these things, how it’s going to go. Especially since with the first group of 12 videos, judges had to pick, it wasn’t by public vote, so you don’t know if you what they are looking for or if there going to like how you sound. So once I made it to the top 12, I was like “Wow, that’s a great thing” and once I got to the 12 I felt like I had just as much of a chance as anybody else.

M: You definitely do, you’re so amazing, you voice is beautiful, it’s great to see you come so far, so how are you feeling right now?
A: Actually, it’s everyday is different, so you’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re anxious, then other moments you’re really calm. I just feel like it’s a blessing. And they say what God has for you, it’s for you. And I think that this is a great example of that because for something just as small as me uploading a 60 second video clip has turned into this in a matter of a month. If someone would have asked me if I thought all of this would happen, I mean today I am in People Magazine. Who would have ever imagined that, so I am enjoying every moment of it and I just know that there’s just more to come.
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M: How was it meeting Justin Timberlake?
A: Oh my God, I officially have a crush now. I mean you see him and you get to see the energy he gives off and see him in interviews and videos, but once you meet him in person, he’s just as funny and nice and personable as he comes off. I’m even a bigger fan now than I was before, he’s amazing. He plays piano, he plays the guitar, he dances, he sings. It truly was a show and I have so much respect for him, you know even more that I did before as an entertainer.


M: Speaking of piano, you play the piano and violin as well, right?
A: I did growing up and when I was younger, I began playing violin when I was four and then I picked up the piano. Now I can still kind of peck at it when I write, I definitely don’t play like I used to, but I can peck it when I’m writing and stuff like that. But that’s actually my resolution this year is to get back to playing on a regular basis.

M: So tell what it would mean to you to win, be on the Grammy stage singing with one of the hottest artist in the world?
A: It’s one of those things where you work so hard for something and to have that chance, it’s like I tell people, I don’t look at it as the end of the contest, I look at it as the true beginning of my career. Because you’re on that stage, it’s broadcasted over the entire world and for that to be your debut, you can’t ask for anything better than that. And the Grammys is such a respected awards show and the Recording Academy is such a respected institution, its comprised of everyone you love, like all the artists and musicians that you’ve grown up watching. And to be one of the people to say that you’ve performed at the Grammys, I mean, well, people can go their whole lives and never have that, so it’s over whelming and just an absolute blessing, I’m just so excited to be this close to have that opportunity.

M: Tell me a little bit about some of your influences, who you grew up listening to and some of the current artists you love listening to?
A: Definitely some of the artists that have influenced my sound and just that I love listening to are Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney. I love OutKast, just their ability to always be outside the box and try new things. I love Madonna. People who are out now, I love Beyonce, Ciara, R. Kelly, Omarion has some new records out that I love. I love Nelly Furtada, Kelly Clarkson, so just across the board. Like I love Coldplay, Panic at the Disco, I mean my musical tastes are everywhere.

M: What is the Africa Miranda sound? If you could describe it in words, I hate to put it in a box.
A: I would definitely considerate to be mainstream R&B Pop, but I play with a live band when I perform, so we like pull in a little rock influences, a little hip hop stuff. In the show you have a chance to step outside of the box and so we’ll do a house remix to a song or we’ll flip it at the end and rock it, so it’s definitely R&B and Pop, but I like to throw in a little rock in the mix.

M: As you mentioned, this isn’t the end of the contest, but the beginning of a new chapter in your career, so what would you like to see happen?
A: I would love for this to be the start, after the Grammys I’m off recording my debut album and then I release it and can be at the Grammys the following year being nominated for beest new artist or performing my own music. Touring and performing, and everything.

M: So do you love the stage, is it home for you?
A: It’s so addictive, there’s no other place to be. Just being on stage, the energy you get from the crowd, just the spontaneity of it, it’s addictive.

M: Now tell everybody why they should vote for Africa!
A: Everybody should vote for me because this isn’t a hobby, this is a way of life for me. I didn’t do this because it seemed like a cool idea, it was a chance have a real start, on a real stage, in a real way. This is something that I love. So I’m a true artist, this my life, this is what I live everyday. I respect the craft and I respect the art of it so much, so I love it. This is my life and that is why you should vote for me!

M: Where can everyone hear your music and learn more about you?
A: First you have to Vote at Yahoo Music

M: So let's do a quick top ten list of your top picks!

M: What fashion trend do you love right now?
A: Skinny Jean, because I’m skinny [laughing], finally something for me

M: And the fashion trend you love to see go away?
A: High belts under the chest!

M: Favorite Dreamgirl?
A: Jennifer Hudson, the moment she came on screen, the movie started, just her story and her spirit, I’m just rooting for her.
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M: One artist you’d love to work with?
A: Outside of Justin Timberlake, Prince, hands down!

M: Your guiltiest pleasure?
A: Gossip magazines and websites

M: Favorite reality TV Show?
A: It’s a tie between all the shows on Bravo, I love Project Runway, I love Top Chef, and throw in America’s Next Top Model. So Project Runway and Top Chef.

M: What kind of shoe girl are you?
A: I’m a heels girl, because I’m only 5’4” so I love heels, but New York has definitely given me an appreciation for flats.

M: The one movie you could watch a million times?
A: The Color Purple, and I have!

M: Favorite Vacation spot?
A: I’m such a starving artist, so I have to pick a place I’ve never been, so I really want to go to Europe.

M: Best place for bargains?
A: H&M, I live for H&M, you can get great inexpensive things.

M: The place you recommend visitors to go in New York.
A: The Village, great shopping, great places to eat, you can people watch and there’s always a celebrity out.

Here's a live performance of "ALL I NEED" by Africa Miranda!

So that we can see Africa Miranda on the Grammy stage with Justin Timberlake!

Also make sure to catch her on Friday on Ellen!