When most people hear Columbus, Ohio they immediately think about the Big 10 college power house Ohio State Buckeyes. But here are a few names you might not know that are connected to the city & state: John Legend (Popular R&B singer), Bow Wow (Popular Hip Hop Artist), Bizzy Bone (Member of Hip Hop Group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), Philip Michael Thomas (Well known Actor), Randy “Macho Man” Savage (Former Pro Wrestler), Michael Redd (NBA AllStar & 08 Olympic Gold Medalist) and Jack Nicklaus (Golf Great). I have one more name that will surely be added to this star studded list in the months and years to come…and HER name is TaNeal. This young artist has the urban style of Lauryn Hill and the soul of Mary J. Blige. Her soulful voice will simply blow you away and it’s evident when you listen to her bellow out songs without the assistance of a hot track or synthesizer. She’s taking it back to the old school where you really had to poses the talent to sing live if you wanted a career in the industry. She is multitalented and supremely motivated to concur her quest to be one of the top female artists in the world. And if you don’t believe me, just read this direct quote from her, “I’m Black, I’m Strong, I’m a Woman…and I will stop at nothing to get my time to shine!!!” Somebody better tell the Buckeyes and the rest of the boys to make room because TaNeal is here to stay!
Thanks for joining us today TaNeal. Tell me a little about growing up in Columbus, Ohio.
TaNEAL - Thanks for having me. I really appreciate this. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio was odd. I never really felt like I belonged there. It’s a Great City, don’t get me wrong, but I just felt like an alien. I always felt there was a place I needed to be, like I was missing something. I just stayed busy to keep my mind from going nuts. My musical influence began in Hip Hop culture. My cousins that lived with us growing up use to break dance in the basement and everyone in the street that thought they could rap knew they would be the next Eazy E. And me…I was just determined to get a better situation for myself. I have been singing since I was five…that’s about as far as I can remember. I sang in church, school and anywhere the moment hit me. If I was not working or playing a sport, I was at home in my room singing on my karaoke machine…making hits you know (lol)! No really, music has always been my safe place and I’m grateful Hip Hop showed me that I could be who I wanted to be through my freedom of expression and noble intuition.
How did you develop the soulfulness in your voice?
TaNEAL - I just love to sing. I didn’t realize it was as Soulful as it is until I was old enough to realize that it was my Soul that had me singing all along. It would have made a difference if there was someone like a mentor to tell me and know I was serious about being a writer and singer. As most people know Columbus, Ohio is a Football and Real Estate City. There are not too many people there who could have held my hand and help me realize it earlier on. The reaction of others didn’t even convince me for a long time! Singing just felt like a thing I just did until I recorded my first underground cassette tape. I took it home and listened to it and knew that I wanted to do more. Before I started performing I spent a lot of time at studios, hanging out with people who enjoyed making music as much as I did; but as before, I wish I would have had someone to tell me at the time that I needed to get out and meet more people and network. Since I didn’t have a mentor beyond the studio scene, it seemed to be all I needed at the time, but I didn’t realized then that people are not going to come looking for me to support my music.
Describe to me your personality.
TaNEAL - I’m silly…SILLY! No, I’m a real down to earth and open minded person. I’m very easy to warm up to. Some people say I look intimidating but I’m nothing but a social Butterfly! There are times when I do not talk at all though and while people think I’m just mean, I’m actually thinking about my next move. But I’m cool, anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m sure. Even if I get on their nerves sometimes, I’m the most pleasant and reliable person they know!
I’ve sampled your work and was impressed with your acapella skills. Is that something you do to separate yourself from other female artist and showcase your talent?
TaNEAL - Thank you for taking the time to do that! I’m glad you like it. I never thought of it as a way to separate myself from other female artists but that sure is a good point. I’ll remember that! I now have help on the song selections, but I’m no studio singer. I love singing live! I’m putting more effort into final projects now but my home studio mic is not a good match for my voice, so I think people on the internet can get a better feel of my voice without the music. I’m just giving them something to hold onto until I release something new.
What type of response to your music have you received from the listeners?
TaNEAL - Hmmmm, they get emotional. It’s weird because I do not know them well, but I understand that they can relate to me through my music and gives me validity that a successful career in music is where I’m meant to be. I keep pushing to reach as many people as I can because of it. A few ask a lot of questions as to why I wrote a certain song but the majority tell me what it did for them, that they love it and to let them know when I post another song.
You mentioned that you win most of the contests you have entered. Give me some names of those contests and where they took place.
TaNEAL - Aw, that was a promo boost and I normally do not do that. I have tried out for American Idol, Star Search, Columbus Give Me the Mic and got the same response, “We love your personality, but we just don’t think you’re ready for our show.” The let downs only made me work harder and opened other doors for me! In 2006, I won a local radio station contest called “WNC Idol.” That win gave me more motivation to complete my “Learning 2 Love” CD and now that CD has shown me that I understand what I can do and how I can make myself better. Each time I do better than the last. This past Spring 2008, I won second place in the Afr’am Festival in Richmond, Va. Along with that contest, they asked me to perform again. That made me feel good, there were a lot of big names such as Keyshia Cole, Mc Lyte, and Big Daddy Kane performing there as well.
Tell me about the opportunities you had to be the opening act for Jazz musician and vocalist Warren Hill and R&B sensation Mario.
TaNEAL - Through my network I’ve gotten these opportunities. I love networking! It’s the backbone of my mission. They are so supportive and I’ll grab any chance for the pleasure to open for such talent. Both shows were a learning experience, it just helps me understand how everything works in this business rather if it’s good or bad, I want to know.
Who have you had the pleasure to work with to date?
TaNEAL – By networking on the internet, I have worked with Producers and DJs all over the U.S. and overseas in Belgium. There is a lot more work to be done. There are a lot more people out there who are interested in getting vocals from me so I’m looking forward to that. I’m always willing to collabo with other artists. Even collaborating with a Country writer has been quite the experience!
In 2007 you released you first CD entitled “Learning 2 Love”. Talk a little about what this CD has to offer.
TaNEAL - L2L is an introduction to my music mission and who I am as a writer, producer and singer. Listening to the lyrics is a good way to get to know me when it’s convenient for you. There is a little bit of everything for everyone on it. I get great responses from all races, age and nationalities. I’m into so many different styles of music and it showed through this.
You have amassed over 200,000 listeners since releasing this CD, which is very impressive. What do you attribute this accomplishment to?
TaNEAL - The numbers is a shock to me. I do not even have a street team. Like I said, I am a social Butterfly...that would be my strength toward it. I want to reach as many as I can so I keep pushing!
How does it feel to now be sought after for paid gigs and how often do you perform?
TaNEAL - I do not perform as much as I would like at the moment, but when I get calls they seem to fall around the same time and it gets busy! It makes me feel like I’m a step closer to quitting my day job and no one ever said don’t. Once I get enough security, I’ll build a team and we are going to put a tour together.
Even more impressive about you is that you have accomplished all of this without financial backing, a manager or promoter. What’s the secret to your success?
TaNEAL - That whole Butterfly thing I always talk about….let me put it this way, everyone loves Butterflies. You can’t see a Butterfly and get angry, lol! I told you I was silly! Still I’m not where I wanna be so I’m not done yet but the end of my mission is already inside of me so I live and breathe it all day. My brain is always working on something new before I finish what I’m currently working on and I LISTEN to my fans! I pay attention to what they like and I stay consistent. That’s about all the Free Cheese I got for you for now.
Is it your goal to be signed by a major record label or would you prefer the freedom that comes along with signing with an indie label?
TaNEAL - The way things are right now…Indie is a great way to set things at a pace you are comfortable with, but I would be more than grateful to get a good distribution deal!
You also write and produce all of your music…correct?
TaNEAL - O yes, but I have help with production so right now I produce about 15% of it. I started out writing stories and poetry. Ya girl has too many interest! I’m looking forward to getting into the whole movie scene soon as well! My production is still being raised although I have created some good stuff. The song “Discovery” on my first CD is one of the best production pieces I have so far and I am very proud of it!
Are you currently working on your sophomore album?
TaNEAL - Yes I am! It’s another 10 track release but I’m gonna shop around before determining a deadline so I hope everyone is ready for this. It’s a monster already!
Let the readers know where to go to find out more about you and your music.
TaNEAL - First go to www.myspace.com/tanealnewartist and then to www.youtube.com/taneal . ADD ME as a friend, subscribe to my blogs and don’t be afraid to contact me. I get back to everyone! My endeavors live off your responses. I do not know what to do unless you tell me what you like so it’s important for you to contact me!
Any final words you would like to offer in closing?
TaNEAL - Yes, first thank you for this opportunity I really appreciate what you are doing! Thank you to my fans that have been with me through this mission of mine. I want to remind you all that even if you just tell ten friends to check me out, it will be more than enough for me to get this career where it needs to be so that I can reach you all. You have asked about me coming to your town but you have to share me I’m no secret, lol but I love you for checking on me the way you do. Share me with anyone you know so that I can come to your town and perform! I’m planning a concert in my town…Columbus, Ohio around the third weekend in November. It is a Hip Hop, R&B, Comedy and Fashion SHOW! We are going to do it BIG! VENDORS, Exclusive VIP, and DOOR PRIZES! To get the quickest response go to www.myspace.com/tanealnewartist, add me and subscribe to my blog! I won’t stop until my legs fall off and even by then I will have someone roll me on stage! Request me on your local radio stations and hold on tight because this train stops for no one! I love you all and God Bless You! Thanks again Randall, Nine5Four has my support 100%!