Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Conya Doss: Transition completed

Conya Doss
Conya Doss Conya Doss Conya Doss Conya Doss

Whilst the UK was frozen in a cold weather snap in early December 2010, a warm ray of sunshine burst through all the greyness in the form of Conya Doss. Speaking from her home in Cleveland Ohio to Blues & Soul’s own sweet boy Ricardito, in support of her album ‘Blü Transition’, Conya gave one of her most personal and moving interviews about the new joy of her life, and the tumultuous year 2010 has been.

B&S: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us so early in the morning. Let me start by asking what does the name ‘Conya’ mean and where is it from?
CD: (Laughs) There are so many different meanings. My mother claims that it was the name of an African tribe; now let me tell you to this day I have never heard of it. I know in the Philippines it means snooty, rich girl, which is far from me (laughs). My Spanish friends laugh because its means like a curse word, I like it’s the “S” word. So I don’t know, but I know I am looking for this African tribe that she named me after, but I can’t find it. Unless maybe she spelt it wrong, I don’t know.

B&S: Congrats on the new album.
CD: Thank you.

B&S: To be honest I wasn’t expecting a new album from you, it seems like so much has happened. I understand you have just had a baby, when did all this happen? That slipped under the radar.
CD: You know it was definitely under the radar. I was working on new music period, but not with the anticipation of coming out with a new album; I just wanted to work, you know just to keep things fresh and to keep things going. In the interim of creating my music I got pregnant, and then during the pregnancy I was thinking maybe I’ll put a new album before I have a baby, but that didn’t happen. During that time my father was diagnosed with cancer, and three weeks later he passed away. So there were a lot of things going on, and doing the music kept me busy and kinda helped me get away from everything else that was going on. I mean there was a ton of things going on all simultaneously. Whatever lesson I am supposed to learn I hope I learnt it.

B&S: Wow! So kept on going throughout all of this or did you take some time out?
CD: No I was still working a full time job. My father would call me every morning, just scared knowing that he was terminally ill. It was crazy, one hospital told him it was in the earlier stages and it hadn’t changed, and I was taking him back and forth from appointments. Then he went to another hospital and they told him he was in the fourth stage. You know it was very terrible as I was pregnant in my early stages, when I thought I wouldn’t be able to have a child. As the year before that I had a major abdominal surgery and had several complications and was back in the hospital four times, so I didn’t think it was possible. So I am trying to stay calm, but he is calling me every morning very upset saying that he is dying; it was a lot of weight on me. So to give you an overview the music was my only outlet to allow me to keep the baby full term.

B&S: Wow! 2010 has definitely been eventful for you.
CD: Yes. Then I was thinking am I ready to put this album out? But then I thought it is what it is. It’s a solid project, but it would have been slightly different if my focus were not so scattered possibly.

B&S: Tell me about the writing and recording process. Was it different from the previous albums?
CD: Yes totally different, because sometimes I wasn’t feeling well during the pregnancy, and like I said running back and forth from the hospital but I had to find a time to do it. Sometimes I would get up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and start writing so the process was definitely different. The producers, especially Myron Davis, who is like the guru, he was very understanding and very supportive.

B&S: To me you are like a superhero: teacher my day, then fantastic performer by night; is that how it is on a day to day basis for you?
CD: (Laughs) It really is that is so funny. I don’t want to say I am a control freak, but this past year the one above showed me that I am not in control at all; I had to sit down and take a step back, it was crazy. I was determined to challenge myself to actually put out a record and do this. It’s funny a colleague of mine said “its over, no more performing for you, you have a baby on the way your career is done” but I was like “no its not!” So I said just because you said that I am definitely up for the challenge.

B&S: Well you have been doing the teaching and performing for a number of years now. Is it something where you have found equilibrium now or is it something you have to work on?
CD: Well I thought I had an equilibrium; it just worked out for me. But now there is a little fella that has come into play that has taken precedence over everything. No I am forced to have some kind of equilibrium, it is not by choice it’s a must. Especially with work, I can’t bring work home like I used to. With music now he sleeps through the night, thank goodness (laughs), so I can unwind have some creativity going on. I have just spoken with Myron today and we are going to be working on some new music…

B&S: Already?
CD: Yeah I just want to keep it going. And when I am motivated to do so I have to.

B&S: There I am thinking you are going to take your foot of the pedal and enjoy this album for a little bit, but you are already working on new stuff.
CD: Oh I am enjoying the album don’t get me wrong. But in the process of that you have to keep it up you know if you feel motivated, because sometimes that motivation doesn’t come and you get writers block and it gets really frustrating. So you have to do it when it hits you.

B&S: Tell us the story or experiences behind some of the songs?
CD: ‘Celebrate’ is probably one of my favourite songs. Its one of my refuge songs, it puts me in a totally different place away from everything; it has such a serene vibe to it. Going through all the emotional roller-coaster shall I say, that was a song I wrote about it. “Never Be The Same” all the transitions that have taken place through the past year with my father passing. Also my son’s paternal grandmother passed a month after my father, and a few months before I was due to deliver my grandfather passed away. So that…life as I know it will never be the same. My son is the joy of my life, he is just amazing, I have never experienced that kind of love, I am in awe. So when I was writing it I had all things and him primarily in mind.

B&S: So now you have a son does that mean we are not going to see for a long time?
CD: No actually my mum has been extremely kind supporting me and she’s been coming on road with me and the little one. No offence to the dad but he needs a motherly touch I am not leaving him with his dad; I’m sorry (laughs). So actually I am going to be in London Jazz Café on 15th and 16th April, and I believe I am possibly doing Birmingham too.

B&S: That’s an exclusive I have been waiting for you to come back for a long time. I am very excited.
CD: Me too, well I am committed to it, that’s the date in April I’ll be there and I am looking forward to it. I was looking on the schedule and telling my people that I was open in April so someone has got to get me there.

B&S: Are there people you are listening to you now that inspire you in similar ways as the people you listened to growing up?
CD: Oh yeah definitely people who have substance. I love Amy Winehouse. I play James Morrison a lot, Anthony Hamilton, Eric Roberson. But I am a really upset because of people that need to know who James Morrison is don’t know who he is. I listen to John Meyer, Raheem DeVaughn. I mean all of those people have something to offer and I get inspired by them. Of course also the great late Nina Simone, and Sade; I listen to her all the time; even my eight year old niece knows all her music. I also like N’Dambi’s music, Kindred, oh the list goes on and on.

B&S: So will there be any duets with any those people in the future?
CD: Well there has been lots of talks with Raheem, and we were going to do it but he had to go out of town to promote his album which I understand, and I now have my album out. But we will have to put the brakes on and make this happen definitely.

B&S: Now for the final 3 three questions I ask everyone I interview:
CD: Name your three buckwild songs that you go crazy for when you hear, and they literally have to drag you off the dancefloor:
‘Got To Give It Up’ by Marvin Gaye, ‘All I Do’ by Stevie Wonder, and ‘For The Love Of Money’ by The O’Jays. Yeah I don’t mind people seeing my lack of coordination when I dance to any of those songs

B&S: If there were 3 artists either dead or alive that could work with or write for who would they be?
CD: Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Raphael Saadiq where he is, I would him.

BS: In 5 years time you are on the cover of Billboard or Variety magazine, what would you like the headline say?
CD: Conya Doss: Still Standing.

B&S: Finally do you have a message for you UK fans or Blues & Soul readers?
CD: Thank you so much. Thank you Blues & Soul. And to my UK fans for all their continued support and their inspirational emails which I still get.
Words Richard 'Ricardito' Ashie

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