Iím writing in response to the posts regarding our situation with MCA. Iíd like to start by saying that I purposely kept news of our plight off the boards and on our journals because I felt that our supporters would like to know and those who arenít supporters wouldnít be trying to hear it. The people that read my journal and interact with us through our guest book have been and are a source of strength, encouragement and inspiration for us. Thereís many a day when I feel like shit and wonder why Iím even bothering anymore. Itís been a tough road and Jazzy supporters know this. This isnít the first time Iíve shared my views and given our perspective on our relationship with MCA. Those who follow the journals know this is just another chapter in the on going drama. I give myself permission to speak candidly about my thoughts and feelings, hoping to move towards making sense out of things. It certainly doesnít make me feel good to go on these boards and read some of the things I've been reading. Like most people I prefer to be liked but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. Ultimately the important thing is not that everyone like our music but that those who might be open be given a chance to make up their own minds. We donít want MCA to do anything for us but let us go. If weíre not commercial enough, let us go. If weíre not a priority, let us go. If weíre too vocal, let us go. If you feel we canít sing, let us go. If you feel I canít sing, let us go. Let us go. Please. , Most people are familiar with the industry perspective of the music business. Everyone knows people want to make money. Commerce is key. I can appreciate the sentiment and I understand the rhetoric. Hell I want to make money. Itís just hard to be pragmatic because itís my life weíre talking about, my dream, something Iíve devoted over half my life to. What should I do, try to be something I'm not? Rest assured there would be all kinds of back-lash on the boards. Why are they frontin'? You have to believe in what you're doing. I'm just now beginning to master believing in myself. I can't imagine courting another style or imagine because it's the "commercial" thing to do. Any time you create something and put it out there for public consumption you open yourself up to criticism. If you read my journals youíll see that I myself have commented on our shows and being unhappy with everything from the sound to our performance to something stupid we said or did. The fact is that we started Black Lily because we had so little performing experience. We needed a place to DEVELOP. Up to that point weíd only done scattered showcases, several studio recordings and aca-pella singing. Iíll be the first to tell you we have room to grow but I also know weíre definitely moving in the right direction. If Iíve learned anything Iíve learned that this is a confidence game in which she with the most conviction prevails.
Having watched several artists in our own camp grow during their time at the Lily I can tell you that itís exciting to see what repetition, faith, and feed back can do for a performer. Iím excited to see where weíll be six months from now, let alone a year, considering how far we've come. It just doesnít make sense to use whether or not you care for our shows or my voice as a reason why we should remain silent about a situation that has become down right painful. Even with no support from MCA, we do have a fan-base of about 60,000 people. Itís a natural conclusion to think that had we received an adequate amount of support and exposure we could have added to that number substantially. Time and time again Iíve heard of our record selling through someone hearing someone elseís copy. Iím telling you, things like that get under your skin.
I remember when Macy Gray first came out, how people responded on the boards, most of them tearing her to pieces. Someone even described her voice as feeling like a hot nail in his ear. One helluva promotional campaign later, she goes triple platinum in the U.S. and many more than that abroad. Maybe you were one of the people that didnít like her and you still donít but she found an audience nevertheless, it just doesnít include a lot of Okayplayers. I for one enjoyed the album and Iím happy she wound up at a place where there were people that believed in her enough to risk their very jobs. They spent millions of dollars selling Macy Gray and ultimately it paid off to the delight of her A & R Iím sure. Macyís case is inspiring but definitely an exception to the rule. You wonít find too many labels willing to shell out that kind of money on a new artist. I suspect it had everything to do with Andrew Slaterís experience and track record with another left of center artist, Fiona Apple. This is a useful example as to what can happen when money is spent but letís face it, most of us wonít be that lucky.
Another exception to the rule is the case of our own Jill Scott. The girl is dope! Sheís amazing and there arenít too many people that would say anything different. Go to any hip, cool store or cafť and sheís probably playing in the background. She found a home on Hidden Beach, a label that canít even offer the kinds of budgets MCA gives but a place that certainly knows what kind of artist they had on their hands. More importantly itís a small label that could give a project the kind of attention it needs. But the key ace in the hole as far as raising Jillís visibility . . . the fact that she wrote the hook to The Roots, Grammy winning song and that she was passed over, by MCA ironically, in favor of another singer with more celebrity, Erykah. You canít buy that kind of publicity, well you can, but it doesnít come cheap. Itís just the kind of underdog story we all love. When The Roots and Rich wanted to keep Jill on the song MCA wasnít having it, now they want to release the Jill version of ďYou Got MeĒ on a compilation. Go figure? Timing, publicity, and certainly talent all played a part in Jillís going platinum. If they continue to spend money she'll sell even more. Itís an inspiring example but unfortunately most artists donít have those kinds of credentials starting out. Iím happy for Jill but I canít say I wasnít scared that labels, particularly our own, would use her example to explain why they donít need to spend money promoting their artists.
As Jaguar says, Iím tired of the ďwhat ifs.Ē What if they wouldíve gone to radio? People often mention ďUnconventional Ways,Ē what if it had come out? What if we were on this or that label? What if MCA really cared and understood our music? What if we couldíve spent more time on the album . . . etc., at this point we would just like to be dropped. Iím serious; no deal is better than this one. Why the extreme opinion? I knew I was done when I realized that even the prospect of doing well on MCA frightened me. Weíd be stuck and I donít think I could take the sudden adulation from all the people you know werenít feeling you before you blew up. This whole drama has been driving me crazy and Iíve got to do something or implode. Iíve been worrying about this for too long now and Iím at my witís end. If we didnít have the Lily, the contact with our supporters and the journals to speak out in, I honestly donít know what condition Iíd be in right now. I realize this is going to be much bigger than I imagined. It started with voicing my opinions in my journal but now there are more and more people coming out to tell their own stories. Iíve got to face the fact that our only role might be to draw attention to the unfair treatment and maybe make things easier on the next artist. It's a chance we have no choice but to take.
I spoke to a dear friend of mine today and she told me that sheíd read my journal the other day. She said ďGirl, I wish I could be so brave.Ē Hmm. I donít feel very brave. Maybe desperation leads to bravery. Tracey and I have been together for going on ten years now. Weíve been a duo for about three of those years. The road has been long and not without potholes. The idea of once again putting our art in MCAís hands is so distasteful to me that Iíd rather give up than let it happen. I believe in the potential of what Tracey and I have together. But the pressure of doing this, especially with a label that just doesnít get us, is too much for me. Iíve resolved to put every ounce of my being into making things happen for us. If that doesnít work Iím going to quit. Not music, music will always be a part of my life. My father was a musician. We have a musical family. Iíll always work on different experimental projects and continue my work within the Black Lily organization. However satisfying that could prove it is not my dream. Itís what I'd settle for. Best believe that before I throw in the towel Iím going to see this thing to its logical conclusion, whatever that may be.
Maybe Iíve stumbled onto something I didnít know I had in me. All I know is Iíve never felt so cornered and Iíve been taking boxing lessons. We have no idea whether MCA is planting moles on these boards. Some of these people got their login codes yesterday. Maybe people always thought I sounded shitty but didnít think it important enough to post about until now. Iím Spanish and Cuban. I was born in Spain. English is my second language. Iím bi-racial. I didnít come up in the church. My voice and tone reflect this. I can accept that in Black music my kind of voice is not typically preferred. I can accept being described as the ďlight-skinned, skinny one with the white sounding voice.Ē I donít like it but Iím learning that I can take it. Historically Iím not the confrontational type so this is turning out to be a real growing experience for me. Iím not out to embarrass or malign anyone unjustly. I just want to be respected as an artist and human being. For many in this business itís all about survival of the fittest. Weíre not people. Weíre numbers and quotas. The bottom line reigns supreme. I get it but this is my life and Iíve got to do something or go out trying. Weíre not the only ones going through this. This is just our story.