Hello, welcome to One on One in 10, where we ask 10 questions to pick the brains of some of the most talented Indie artists in the Tri-State area.  It’s your girl Mai Mazzi live and on the scene, bringing you the real with today’s movers and shakers that allows you to meet them, one on one.

I hope everyone has had an awesome transition into the warmer weather that has come with this month. Not only is March the welcoming of Spring, it is also Women’s History Month.

In celebration of women, past and present, I chose to interview the very talented and motivational spoken word artist Brooke Jean, representing LA.

Mazzi: Thank you so much for taking the time out to sit and talk with me.

Brooke Jean: Thank you for having me!

Mazzi: What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

Brooke Jean: When I first began writing I was encouraged by friends to go and recite at a poetry lounge. That’s how I first began to perform in front of people.  Musically I was with a female friend of mine where we were actually doing covers over rap songs, like Nas, Biggie, and music that we grew up on.  I realized that I really wanted to do something unique with my poetry and my music. Being a female duo group didn’t work out in the long run and I ended up working by myself. That deepened my love for music and I was intrigued to create my poetry with the music. That’s when I realized that I wanted to pursue it professionally.

Mazzi: How do you describe your music?

Brooke Jean: I would describe myself as a poet who performs poetry in song format. When they hear poet and music, they think more along the lines of just reciting poetry over music playing in the background. It is poetry in song format where you still have verses, and instead of me rapping I am reciting. I still have choruses and bridges. In my live performances when I’m local within the US I have a traveling band. When I go over seas I travel by myself and I recite acapella or to music.

Mazzi: If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?

Brooke Jean: The style of music that I have composed on my last three projects has been in the R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop genre.  My first project was more Hip Hop, like a Tribe Called Quest, Q Tip, type of song base. I gravitate towards Soul in general because that is what people box me in to. It’s easier for people to relate to me in this genre since I travel with the live Jazz band.

For spoken word, there really aren’t any variables like the music industry, so there aren’t any defined genres. It is restricted to just spoken word.

Mazzi: Are you familiar with the term “starving artist”?

Brooke Jean: Yes.

Mazzi: How do you cope with major obstacles as they relate to the term?

Brooke Jean: I just get really creative. Even when I first started out as an artist, I knew people and had resources, but nobody just hands you anything. At the beginning stages I really didn’t have much money to invest into my artistry. I still worked a full time job and essentially became my own investor. I started out doing my own open mic tour, which was me going out to open mics within LA and getting my name out there.  We have technology now, which is the best resource for up and coming artists that do not have the finances. That is how I was able to build my following now, just by getting out there and giving my art away.  It got to a point when I could start selling my art and requesting performance budgets. You have to be creative if you don’t have the finances or mentorship, you have to be able to get out and do things for yourself.

Mazzi: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?

Brooke Jean: I would say two years ago, maybe three, I won a contest with Proctor and Gamble and Tide detergent. They had a non-profit called My Rising Tide. I don’t think they do it anymore.  It was a contest where creative people and entrepreneurs who lacked funds or resources would submit work and the winner would have the opportunity to have a mentoring conversation with Russell Simmons, as well as resources like an I Pad. I entered and out of 50 people I was selected. I had a one on one conversation with Russell Simmons; it was a three-hour conversation and they taped it and condensed it to a ten minute YouTube video. That opportunity opened a lot of doors for me. People began seeking me out to do workshops and my own mentorship. I also received a lot of bookings as well. From there things started going and I began to perform at bigger venues.

Mazzi: What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this type of image for your music?

Brooke Jean: I think that my image conveys positivity and uplifting motivation. I believe that it conveys this image because this is the image that I offer of myself. I try to be as positive as possible; we are all human and go through life situations. I like to be that ear and that friend to people to help them be successful. The image I convey ties into what I embody as a person.

Mazzi: Art and music has an impact on both the young and the old; sometimes the older generation loses respect for the music we listen to today because they cannot comprehend the value of it. What advice can you give to the youth of today seeking to enter the industry in regards to being able to stay relevant for every generation and for any audience?

Brooke Jean:  For the young generation, I encourage them to do their research. Even though we are in a more trendy generation and things are very different from how they used to be musically, that’s how you get inspiration. Coming up I felt that viewing other poets’ work or researching poets from the past, was not going to help my inspiration and I would end up just copying them. I wanted to be unique and original, but I learned that it is vital to know about the past.  I learned in the long run that viewing other people was inspiring and helped me to be even more unique in my journey.

For the older generation, I would suggest speaking more to the youth. This new generation is growing up with more technology and the older generation has to understand that things are growing and changing. They are not as adaptable to change. The older generation doesn’t understand how the technology could potentially help them with things like jobs and academics. Closing the communication gap and putting the differences of each generation in their own perspective would definitely help each side.

Mazzi: What are your immediate music career goals (1 to 3 years)?

Brooke Jean: My immediate goals for my spoken word are to get a consistent speaking workshop. I have been doing a lot of speaking at churches and non-profits. I really want to transition to having this incorporated into my music.  It has helped me reach the older crowd, especially since they don’t like to listen to a consistent flow of music.  Musically I would love to start performing at large festivals and I would be working this angle with a band.

Mazzi: Do you have other interests or talents that you would like to share with us?

Brooke Jean: Besides my poetry I do creative writing for different blogs and different companies. My speaking is what I am working on to build more into my brand.

Mazzi: How do you like to enjoy your time away from the music?

Brooke Jean: I love to read books and get massages. I also like to enjoy nature and spend time with family. Traveling to places that I have never been is also how I like to enjoy my time away from my spoken word.

To my readers, thank you for tuning in, and make sure you stay tuned for the next NMNJ “One on One in 10”!

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