Reflections with N’Dambi

Although she’s not a newcomer to the music scene there are still many who are just becoming familiar with vocalist / songwriter N’Dambi. Garnering critical acclaim from her 3 independently released recordings N’Dambi has also developed an enthusiastic and supportive fan base that’s sure to grow with the release of her new recording PINK ELEPHANT on Stax Records. Recently N’Dambi and I had a chance to talk about PINK ELEPHANT and more…

G1: This was a pleasant surprise on a couple of fronts; first, I’ve been a fan of your work for quite some time and kept wondering “when are more people going to open their ears to this sister”, and then to see that you’re working with Leon Sylvers on this, who I think was one of the premier hit makers at one time, and it still sounds like he has that magic… What did working with Leon do for you, bring out for you, what did it add to the project for you?

N’Dambi: Well, the one fun thing about working with Leon is that I was already a fan of his. I felt like it was an honor to get the opportunity to work with someone who had that experience and came from a background making several hit songs, and each song was fascinating in their own right, and they all had their own stamp on them individually. He had a way of making this music sing and hum… I don’t know if he was trying to make a hit or not, but I do know when I heard the music that he made, all the songs had a certain feeling to them.
I was looking for a producer to help me to articulate what I wanted through the music without feeling like I would get lost, vocally, with the art that was going behind it or riding along side of it.
It was great working with him (Leon Sylvers), he taught me a lot more about the things I probably didn’t think about because a lot of times when I wrote I think I wrote from a vibe versus having an “A”, “B”, and “C”… he’d come in with a plan… I learned a lot more about arranging and producing working with him.

G1: One of the creative sides of your song writing is the storytelling side. I mean, some people write songs and they’re nice to dance to or have a good hook, but there’s really not a story, yet the songs I hear in Pink Elephant have complete stories and each of the stories are really visual. What’s your song writing process?

N’Dambi: The song writing process to me is much like writing a short story, and I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I take the opportunity with songs to write a story. When I think about what the story will be I think about time, place, setting, year, characteristics of who’s saying what and who’s narrating what in the story. The stories are usually not mine but they may be the stories of the lives of people that I’ve watched, or just a word that comes to mind and I’ll think “how could that be a story?”

G1: Before song writing were you a writer of another kind? Did you do any creative writing? Did you write poetry ?

N’Dambi: I did… I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and I majored in creative writing.

G1: So you’re a sister who’s putting you’re degree to work, huh?

N’Dambi: Yeah, I’m putting it to work! I really am…

G1: Pink Elephant is on Stax records; they have a long legacy in Soul music and you’ve just been added to that legacy. What does it mean to you to now be a part of a history that has provided us with groups like the Staple Singers, Dramatics and the Emotions, and folks like Isaac Hayes, Betty Wright and Johnnie Taylor, and has done a lot to define Soul music?

N’Dambi: I feel honored. One thing that was exciting for me about being with Stax is the kinship of knowing that it was a Southern based label and I’m from the south. That felt special from the start, and then just understanding the history of the music and the legacy that’s been left, from Otis Redding to the Staple Singers to Isaac Hayes to the Emotions, all of these wonderful people who brought wonderful music that we still listen to… I feel honored.

G1: What bit of advice would you give today’s youth?… not just about the music business, but more about the life business

N’Dambi: I think the biggest part of the life business is learning to love self first… understanding who that is, all the complexities, and accepting everything about who you are… your experiences, where you come from where you’re going to learn all the things that make you who you are. When you have a strong sense of self everything else will make sense.

For more about N’Dambi check her out at http://www.ndambionline.com, http://www.myspace.com/ndambi, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ndambi/17936325311



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