I pray, read the word, and then creative stuff happens here. Problem-solving and all of that comes into that space. So 'Da Box' actually represents my sanctuary and that time. I might look trapped in a box, but I'm actually more free in that box than anyone on the outside looking in or in any other space in my life.
I've been blessed with so many opportunities and so many amazing things throughout this process. But all the while, I remember that the reason that I'm here and the reason that I do music and tell these stories is that people come to know the love, the God that I know.
That's why I loved Dinah Washington. She sung jazz, but they called her the Queen of the Blues. She had the control and sophistication of jazz in her note selection and how to attack a song or certain lines, but then attacked it with a painful force of blues behind it. That's why I admired her so much, because of that versatility.
When I heard Billie Holiday's voice, Nina Simone's and Ella Fitzgerald's - there was something about their voices to me that was such a different texture than what I was used to listening to at the time. Hearing those jazz voices were so different, and I think I just gravitated toward it.
I established early what I was and wasn't willing to accept. People tried to say what I had to do, whether it be pop or R&B, to be successful. Even when I was in the girl group, they would try to make our voices sound very radio-friendly and fit that mold. But even before I got signed, I knew who I was and who I wanted to be.
The reach of Coke and McDonald's is undeniable, and I'm thrilled these iconic brands are joining forces to inspire local communities through messages of peace and motivation in unique ways. It's an added bonus that they are using the lyrics to 'Rise Up' as a part of those messages.
I knew that I could sing when I was young. I would listen to a lot of jazz; I'm a big jazz fan. When I first got to high school and studied musical theater, I could sing. But I added certain things to my voice, and I realized after graduating high school that this is the kind of voice I had. It's not very nimble, but it's heavy.
I was heavily influenced by big voices when I was younger. People like Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Labelle really spoke to me. When I got older, I was into Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Lauryn Hill, but it wasn't until I started working with a voice coach that I really dove into jazz music.