I had the good fortune of meeting Somilia Rabee on a beautiful July afternoon. On her concert tour, she was passing through Atlanta, on her way to Montgomery, AL. And as the Goddess would have it, our paths crossed, and I was blessed when she accepted my offer to appear on my Blogtalkradio.com/theSiren show. As she gifted me with her new CD, sound unheard, I invited her to guest star on my blog, right here, on A Golden Life.
Again, she said yes, providing me with divine answers to my questions and delicious pictures.
Without further ado, my darlings, I give you, Miss Somilia Rabee, artist extraordinaire….
1. Who is Somilia Rabee?
Just a human being trying to survive in this crazy mixed-up world. Doing it my own way, not taking no for an answer and claiming what I want.
a. What does your audience not know about her that would charm their hearts?
My other passion is for serving people, my mother, a stranger on the street, a customer in my store whatever and whenever..some of the positions that have most impacted my life have been those where I worked with mentally ill patients, adjudicated youth, at-risk youth and incarcerated women. Ultimately I would like to start an organization to teach people from these communities and many others about business development and management.
2. Are you from a musical family?
Listening to music has always been a big part of my family’s tradition but not so much creating it. I do have several relatives who are visual artists though.
a. Is your family supportive of helping you pursue your dreams?
Absolutely. I was always marching to my own beat, so they don’t expect any less from me as an adult. When I told my mom I was leaving my job at the Department of Transportation to do music full time, she kind of gasped but soon got over it after I reassured her that I have to follow my heart and my dream and that I have a plan to actually bring it to fruition. She couldn’t really argue as she did the same thing herself around my age.
3. When did you know you wanted to be an entertainer?
I’d say by 7th grade. I was a class clown and loved the attention and making people feel good. I knew I had a knack for it, and by my freshman year was doing stand up at a local comedy club open mic.
4. What inspires you in the work of Herbie Hancock, Phoebe Snow and Lauryn Hill?
Herbie Hancock made some crazy music on the keyboard. I’ve always loved jazz fusion (often these groups were headed by keyboard players Bob James, Chick Korea, etc.) and Herbie Hancock just got nuts with it..I feel that same energy when I jam out on the keyboard..just like you wanna go nuts! Phoebe Snow has a really amazing voice but sang beautifully without all of the trills and going up and down the scale etc. Lauryn Hill is just dope! Amazing singer, amazing mc, producer, musician, woman, activist, mother and I’m sure much more. I wish she would come back…
5. Who are The Heath Brothers?
The Heath Brothers are a jazz group out of Philadelphia. They were very popular during the late 70s and early 80s when jazz fusion was really developing as a genre. I actually used a bassline from the song “MellowDrama” as the foundation for one of the songs on Beats, Sounds, Life.
6. How did you come about such a smooth, tantalizing flow in your music?
I’m not sure..this was my first digital production and I kind of just went with what sounded and felt good to me. I was just learning the programs and was limited in my abilities as well and I think sometimes that simplicity creates a sort of continuous groove..kind of like riding a low wave that’s safe and comfortable but feels really good.
7. What is your creative process?
It varies…sometimes a phrase or sentence will come into my head and I’ll write it down and create a piece around those beginnings. Most often, I am either tooling around on the keyboard, guitar or one of my virtual instruments and just come up with a chord progression or rhythm, melody that feels good and right like..ahhh this should be a song. From there I flesh out the arrangement…you know, adding a bass line here, a guitar solo there, or whatever components you choose for that song. It’s like a painter with a palette of colors and a variety of mediums, canvas, oil paint, acrylic, you choose whatever seems right at the moment and just build from there.
8. How has your first tour been so far?
Crazy! Truly a journey from day one! Most exciting event? Having an opportunity to see New York at its most vibrant…I’ve never visited in the summer and in a matter of a few days saw Q-Tip in Central Park, an amazing musician that I know from Chicago, folks dancing, skating, playing drums, hustling and just being so alive..it was pretty amazing. Most challenging? I was really sick one day for several hours. I’m living out of my car and so that’s where I had to lay. I was vomiting about every twenty minutes and it was particularly hot this day. I had to keep the windows up though, as I was parked in a neighborhood with all kinds of people going by and I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable..it was the worst!
9. Where would you like to perform if you could perform anywhere in the world?
I’m thinking UK ..touring with Lauryn perhaps.
10. If you could regale one person with your silken sounds, who would it be and why?
Alicia Keys..I had an opportunity to meet her once and mentioned that I’d really like to play music with her sometime. Her response that she looked forward to it was genuine. If I could, I’d lavish her with my sounds in the hope that she would do a project with me.
11. What messages do you convey in your music?
Love is a common theme throughout everything I’ve ever written. I feel that is what I am..all of us are at the core. However, because of our fear of ourselves as love defined that fear manifests itself into all of the crazy scenarios we encounter with people throughout life. So in that context, I always write about love and its many manifestations. Beyond that, my message is one of equality, responsibility, and empowerment..realizing yourself as a part of the universe and beyond.
12. Describe what you have learned from your years with Electro Hip Hop, the HEARD and Kansas City?
Hmm, I guess that I am capable of making a good living doing something I love, but what that requires is not something that you or others easily manage. I can only be responsible for myself, make moves for myself and I suppose that is what being with those groups have taught me.
13. Have you always lived in the Chi?
No, I was born and raised in Kansas City, KS and MO, lived in Iowa, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah and Jamaica for a couple of months.
14. How do you download and meditate?
Download..a nice bike ride, stroll along the waterfront, watching a movie. Meditate..sitting or lying quietly with no sounds except the electric buzz of the energy around me, playing guitar, biking.
15. How do you get in the zone before a show?
Usually just hang out and do it up with friends at the gig before I go on. The voice saying “Ok, let’s do this, you have to do it hard, you gone do this!” is inside me all the while, pumping me up and getting me comfortable to get up there and entertain the people that came to see me. I am also really big on rehearsing…the more of that I’ve done the more comfortable I am and the less I have to prepare myself mentally to get in that zone..I’m already there you know.
16. Are you a spiritual woman?
Very much so, although I’m not into religion as far as “following” it, I do find it interesting, but I feel a very deep connection with the everthing.
17. What is your next project?
After the tour I’ll decompress in Chicago for about a month then head to wherever I decide to live next. Wherever that may be, I’ll set up my studio and get to work on the full-length album and managing Bad Girlz Productions.
18. Do you plan an overseas trip any time soon?
I feel and see myself overseas very soon though I haven’t made any official plans. I believe it is a part of my near future.
19. When did you start your beautiful locs?
I had locks before, cut them and spent several years bald. I started growing my hair back in 2001, and I guess officially started locks in 2003.
20. Who blessed you with the enchanting name, Somilia? What does it mean?
My mother gave me my name..my parents were a part of the Nation of Islam when I was born. They wanted to give me a name that reflected their beliefs and so when my mother saw the name in a newspaper article she was reading about the country she knew that was me. I have tried many times to find the meaning of the word “Somalia” and have yet been unable to find anything more than explanations about the country itself. However, my middle name, Rabee, is Arabic and means, spring.
The Golden Goddess
El 19 de agosto