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Changamiré is an award-winning jazz vocalist and recording artist in Washington, D.C.
Following the release of her debut album, she founded Sonnig Records, an entertainment and music production and publishing company.
Sonnig Records aims to provide the local and global community with exceptional music and musician advocacy.
Hey Changamire! Can you tell us about how you got your start in the music industry?
My grandmother raised me in the house with her daughters (my aunts), one of whom was a flight attendant who loved jazz. When my aunt would go on a flight, I would listen to her albums and mainly gravitate toward the lyrics and vocalists, most prominently Billie Holiday.
Alongside my friends and I partying to R&B, I continued to immerse myself in this other musical world of jazz. When my brother heard me sing, he introduced me to his childhood friend, Glenn Turner, who was the pianist for Gil Scott Heron at the time. Glenn became my first vocal coach and introduced me to recording. Those sessions gave me the confidence to hang out in the DC jazz scene, singing at jam sessions and checking out musicians playing.
One musician had a drawer full of great, original song recordings in his home, and they inspired me to record and self-release my first album, Only Human, where I hired a 14-piece string section for two of the tracks. A couple of years later, I founded Sonnig Records LLC, mainly to project the intellectual property surrounding the album. Soon after, the company began working with other artists. Around that time, I assembled an incredible jazz ensemble to accompany me for performances; we are a sextet and quite expensive!
When a referred prospect could not afford our fee to play his private event, I recommended a smaller, dynamic ensemble, which went over well. From that situation, Sonnig Entertainment, our entertainment service, was born. Recording, publishing, performing and marketing; that’s our work today.
Are there any projects that you’re currently working on that you’re most excited about?
I am recording a Billie Holiday album, which may seem cliché because what popular jazz vocalist hasn’t? But the singer is a big part of my music beginnings, and this project will be a full-circle moment for me.
I’m excited about how different the album will be, as well as unveiling the other creative projects we’re doing to support the album. It’s slated to release in 2023.
Also, we are constantly seeking collaboration opportunities with creatives inside and outside of music. We’re working with talent in the performance, video, NFT and design spaces and are very excited about the forthcoming content. And finally, we are always excited about the cult following of our artist, Lincoln Ross, more specifically the following of his former ’70s R&B group, The 3 Pieces. Last year brought admiration from London and Portland, OR in different forms, including a vinyl remix project.
Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?
Recording the 14-piece string section on my debut album, Only Human, makes me very proud. To drive from DC to the legendary Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia and fund the recording session myself, as well as the remainder of the project, is my biggest success story so far.
The musicians were from the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the album brought critical acclaim at the beginning of my recording career. Also, the Clubhouse app has been extraordinary for us. We joined in 2020 when the app was fairly new, and in one year’s time, we have established a significant jazz presence there.
Our club, The New Jazz Listener, was the first jazz community on the app. There were not any jazz clubs there, accounting for our current membership of over 10K. Our other club, The Jazz Scene, has over 12K members, but NJL has become quite popular and generates business opportunities. The previous app icon, Abraxas Higgins, announced NJL as his favorite room on the app…..”by far!” Shortly after its start, NJL established some momentum, featuring guests like TS Monk, Marc Urselli, Malik Yusef, T.Nava, Primo Artists and directors from the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Jazz, NPR Jazz and the Apollo Theater. Other jazz communities soon launched on Clubhouse and began flourishing. In addition, the mission of NJL allows us to be advocates of jazz in an extremely fun way.
Our goal is to introduce jazz music to people who are curious about it, in an effort to help grow the global jazz audience. We are very proud of our work on Clubhouse.
Outside of your work in music, do you have any other hobbies/ particular areas of expertise/interest etc.?
I thoroughly enjoy creating events, whether or not it is centered around a performance. I set out to plan some unusual experience for the audience or attendees, so that they feel extra special and will always remember the event.
Is shopping a hobby? My love of shopping comes from my late grandmother. So, when developing our merchandise collection, we curated an online gift shop, in addition to offering band t-shirts and posters.
As an art collector who can only draw stick people, it is an absolute joy to offer direction to designers for merch, marketing and creative collaborations.
Before we end, are there any final words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m so glad you asked about hobbies. I firmly believe if you incorporate them into your business — and as the saying goes — it will not feel like work. Your work should be fun! There are serious and even tough times, but overall, you should be having a good time. Similarly, incorporate charity work into your business plan. It will pay off both altruistically and financially.
Also, always be a student. Learning should never end.
With publishing being a focus area for us, I wanted to learn to write stronger songs and enrolled in the Bad Kids Klass songwriting camp. Though the main genre heard in the camp is hip hop, the founder is worldly in his musical experience and appreciates having all genres contribute to the camp.
For the camp’s Halloween album, I performed an unrecognizable cover of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”. For the Christmas project, I wrote an original song, Snow Irony, when one of the producers sent me a wonderful track. I would love for you to check them both out. Visit SoundCloud.com/changamire to hear them, as well as to hear fragments of Sonnig Records released and soon-to-be released music.
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