"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview"
Mariea Antoinette, a native of San Diego, has transformed the Harp from a classical background instrument into an electrifying lead instrument in today’s Contemporary music. With the success from her last release, STRAIGHT FROM THE HARP – Special Edition that reached an impressive top 5 in Billboard, Mariea’s new single OVERTURE is now hitting the airwaves.
We would like to welcome Mariea Antoinette to JazzMonthly.com
Jazz Monthly: OVERTURE opens with stirring Orchestration Hits and blends very soulful Jazz with additional stimulating influences. How did you compose and bring this graceful yet electrifying track together?
Mariea Antoinette: In the words of my producer Allan Phillips..."The whole purpose of composing this track was to show that creativity can be limitless. I wrote the intro emulating a surge or a tsunami, followed by the crystal clear notes of the harp. Once the rhythm kicks in, most people are expecting aggressive instruments like horns stabs, synths and drum breaks except, my focus was to use the harp as the driving force of the piece in terms of rhythm, melody and harmony instead of writing the conventional angelic idiom that we are used to when we listen to the classical harp". Using these elements, anything can be funky... Mariea Antoinette's harp playing proves it!
JM: When you put OVERTURE together, if you could make one statement about this track, what would it be?
MA: The Overture establishes the Harp as a brand new powerful and soulful medium in contemporary music.
JM: This captivating new Single is from a new up-and-coming album. Can you give our readers a slight preview about this forthcoming CD project?
MA: It will take you on a journey, it will be groundbreaking and shatter preconceived ideas about the harp, even more. It will cause you to travel deep within your multidimensional imagination, yet exciting, soulful, sexy and elegant.
JM: What was your very first memory of music? When was your first big moment when you knew that you were going to be a musician and make this your career?
MA: I grew up in a musical household, where Gospel, Motown and R&B music was played. Growing up I sang in church with the children's and youth gospel choir. The first concert attended was to see James Brown and Jimmie Hendrix, I knew then that I loved the stage, and the electricity of the concert.
JM: You mentioned back when you were performing in the orchestra and were thinking about bringing the harp to the front as a lead instrument. Take us back to that time. What was Mariea Antoinette like then? What steps did you take to develop your sound to what it is today?
MA: Mariea Antoinette then was a very serious Classical Harpist. I grew up and hung out with Carl Evans Jr. of the Jazz Fusion band Fattburger, Nathan East and Hollis Gentry, all world class musicians in the making at that time. I watched as they blossomed in their respective craft and careers. Carl Evans Jr took me under his wing and let me watch as he produced other local artists. Observing this was an education in itself, to see how albums came together in the recording studio and the importance of making a musical statement. Carl produced my first album "Sexy Paradise" which set the direction of my music. Working with my current producer Alan Philips, allows me to take my instrumental voice and music to another level. These were some of the steps that led me to develop my direction and style.
JM: STRAIGHT FROM THE HARP – Special Edition, a celebrated collection of thirteen songs reached an impressive top 5 in Billboard. Tell us a little about this previous outstanding project?
MA: In collaboration with Producer Allan Philips and Executive Producer James Norris, the goal of "Straight from the Harp was to put the harp front and center, stretching the established boundaries of the Harp. Also to fuse multiple genres, bringing elements of EDM, hip-hop, pop and R&B into the mix. The other idea was to take the harp to places you have only heard in dreams using a signature string section and cameo vocals from female singers, including my daughter Chanel Fields and Karen Briggs on Violin. I intended to knock the ball out of the park with this project, and I was very proud of this effort. My first song released was "Give me Your Love" by the great Curtis Mayfield. This was a song that I always wanted to do, and it put me on the map. It was important to use a few covers of popular and familiar songs, to show the range of the Harp as a front and center instrument. I love Reggae music and I got a chance to meet Bob Marley, so it was an honor to do "Waiting in Vain". I also wanted to include a song that got people on their feet dancing and "Boogie Nights" was the song. I could speak more about this CD, but it would fill another page.
JM: Please talk about some of your most memorable and notable performances you have enjoyed to date.
MA: Some of my memorable performances included a luncheon for Michelle Obama and the Presidential Inaugural Gala was an honor. Playing the BET Awards with R&B artist Ne-Yo was eye opener. Performing at some of the major Jazz Festivals around the country such as Seabreeze and Capital Jazz with Jazz n Pink, was great. A tour in West Africa for the Minister of Culture in Cameroon was fantastic.
JM: What inspired you to do this style of Music?
MA: I love R&B and Funk music that have great stories, and are timeless. I love rhythm and dancing. I always wanted to give the Harp a more rhythmic presence, and perform music that you could dance to, which would be totally unexpected and trailblazing for the Harp.
JM: You write and perform exceptional music and are a distinguished and accomplished artist. How has the music changed for you over time?
MA: First of all, I don't like to be categorized or boxed in when describing my music, I like all genres so I cannot be limited. The harp is an ancient instrument, and music has always changed over the years, so I think its also important to adapt, stay current, stretch the boundaries yet keep your own signature style.