How did you get involved with music, what helped you start it all?
I gave wings to my music in 2019, having never sung or played an instrument prior. At 32, I learned how to sing and play the piano for the first time to transform my poetry into music, the same age as my muse/role model, Leonard Cohen, when he began making music. I had never sung anywhere nor understood music whatsoever. Only the fact that I love to listen to it. The only thing I did know was I always loved to write, and I had books upon books of poetry I had written but had no idea how to turn them into songs. I wanted to create a goal so out of reach that I knew there was no room for the “impossible” in my life when I accomplished it. I coach people every day in my job as a full-time coach to believe in the possibility of where they can take their bodies and minds. I’ve always been one to want to lead by action in my life, by implementing my coaching practices on myself.
By March of 2019, I was motivated and determined enough to turn my goals into reality. By simply believing in the power of my music, I assembled a band of accomplished musicians. After only two rehearsals, some vocal lessons and music sheets for 13 original songs, I produced two soldout 250+-seater performances, selling my tickets and running my publicity single-handedly.
First and foremost, I was an athlete in my earlier years, a talented runner and basketball player, intending to make it to the next successful athletic level. In my 17th year of life, with my goals to be realized and achieved, I suffered a life-altering injury that would take me from athletics for the rest of my life. Three surgeries on my right leg and taken away from the very thing I loved most in this world, being an athlete.
As a young, tall, disillusioned teen, I moved through a terrible depression, a darkness that would last for many years—writing saved me in many ways and from that time, much of my poetry was born. Brokenness healed through writing and believing that I would find my passion calling again.
I received a double University and College Degree in English, Journalism: TV, print and newspaper. I started a successful athletic performance academy with my partner, where we both coached and educated people/teams every day into their goals for the last nine years. I gave birth to my son, Legend Kingsley Cornell, in May 2020 and am expecting another son on the way this February. I opened a 5,000 square foot studio called, Parisian Creative, a place for creatives and artists to brand themselves. Being inspired by my life daily motivates me, and music shares a unique way to empower others to achieve their goals despite all failures. Music has breathed life back into me, creating, discovering and experiencing new passions. Finishing my 11 song album this year has been surreal in many ways. The goal is real and alive. The impossible is POSSIBLE. Words, stories, and observations in life were etched into the pages of what would one day be released to the world as lyrics to my songs, and this is my Defying Odds.
2021 was a rocky year for some, how was it for you?
Funny enough, my nickname has been Rocky since I was a child! For me, I try to attack an obstacle straight on. If anything, these last two years have been pivotal in my development and rise as an artist. I made music and kept practicing and honing in on my skills, and that time allowed me to learn and let my creative juices come to fruition. I let myself sit in a space with who and what I wanted to be in the musical world. And here I am now. ‘defying odds’ and continuing to rise. I am a gogetter and highly self-motivated; I don’t see ‘impossibles’; I go out and prove to myself and others it is possible – so the nickname rocky seemed to be perfectly fitting. This whole journey has been built on showing people that you can reach your goals with enough hard work. I started singing for the first time in my life at 33. I thrive off of challenge, and I call upon myself to work hard and do the groundwork necessary to reach my goals. It’s not the talent for me; instead, it’s refusing to be outworked by anyone; I will go into any goal with every ounce of fire I can ignite within me.
If anything, I was more determined and inspired to create and get my music off the ground. I have always worked well through challenges; I see it as an opportunity to develop strength of character. I refuse to succumb to life’s obstacles; instead, I find a way to move and get motivated from them.
‘Defying Odds’ was born from a time when the odds were stacked against all of us; that’s what makes this music release more meaningful.
How did you start the process of creating your first album music?
I just did it. I assembled a good team of people to help elevate the goals and set the album process in motion. I decided that I wanted my poetry to be more than just words in a book; I wanted to give them life.
Lyrics flood through me all day long; I can’t escape words and ideas. So I have always found myself carrying around a small notebook to jot down the constant ideas that come through me. I love writing stories; it’s always been so fluid and natural. So like my muse and role model, Leonard Cohen, I embarked on a journey to become a musician, create an album and let the world hear my thoughts. I also profoundly wanted to inspire others to believe in their goals and know that they too can reach them with enough hard work and commitment.
How did you go about choosing your genre?
I don’t really identify with one specific genre – I think the beautiful thing about music is interpretation, and we all hear things differently. Even though I identified my music as pop, it’s fascinating because people hear so many different things, and I love that. Unfortunately, when you place your music out on music streaming platforms, you are forced to choose a specific genre your music falls under. But my music is diverse and crosses into so many different genres and influences.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
To encourage women to move towards their goals and believe in themselves fiercely. To know they can achieve their most profound purpose and passions. As women, there are so many limitations put on us not only by this industry but by the world. We are told it is impossible, that our dreams are impossible, that we cannot do it all. Especially when we decide to embark on motherhood, the world tells us we can no longer have goals; we must choose between the two. This album and this whole process show that I will continue to rise through all challenges as I move through pregnancy and toward becoming a mom for the second time, owning and running my businesses and learning and creating music. The album’s title speaks to women’s power to transcend the status quo. Time and again, women rise to the occasion proving to themselves and the world that the impossible is possible, and their dreams are alive, and we are achieving them. We are women – Defying Odds. I am a woman – Defying Odds.
You’re unique, and you have a very special branding– how important is this to you and how much does it influence your work?
I stepped into this industry knowing exactly who I am, why I am doing this, and the messages I want to share. It was vital for me to step into a voice, a performer and an image that was mine, created by me, for me inspired by my experiences. I have danced with the good and the bad and made it an essential part of my story and image. But I own it as mine, and I share it as all of ours to receive inspiration from.
Most of us go into things without sitting with ourselves and asking hard questions. We go into life without ever developing a solid relationship with ourselves, which is the key to success. Being rooted in your purpose and who you are as a person will allow you to stay true to what your goals are.
That comes at different seasons and parts in our lives, but when we get comfortable with all the uncomfortable parts of ourselves and own who we are, no one and nothing can strip us of it.
That is powerful.
That is the power I want to channel in every song I write and sing. I know who I am; here is my story.
However, it took me a long time and a lot of work to understand the woman I am today and step into her confidently and unapologetically. Empowering people is what I have decided to do every day in my life, and it is what I will continue to do in my music. I want people to believe in themselves, whatever goal they choose for themselves, to know that they can achieve it if they work hard enough, practice, and dedicate themselves to it. Of course, it will never come without failure and its challenges, but those will always be critical stepping stones to growing and learning as a person. Those challenges will always be the little voice asking you, “how badly do you want it” how hard are you willing to work go to get to where you want to be.” Music is a way I can communicate and inspire others to rise through their darkness and create their light. It’s a way to share myself and my experiences with the world and allow them to find strength within my words and expression. Music is power and, if yielded in the right way, can help others deeply to heal, raise themselves and create.
And now you’re dropping your new music video, talk us through your mindset going into that single?
Well, I was eight months pregnant when I shot that, so our main focus was designing costuming to conceal that, haha. Sweet Memory is one of the most impactful songs on the album because it’s the story of what led me into music.
I began to recreate myself from one of the most painful experiences of losing my ability to play sports and essentially losing a significant part of my identity. It was the darkest and most challenging part of my life but necessary for my transformation; I found a voice and words through that time that led me to create this album. It led me to create this song. An essential part of this song was to emulate that pain and make this character trapped and yearning to be set free – she the ice queen – so far from herself- so far from humanity, feeling, a nothingness that overtook her and froze her soul. Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized the person starring back? It’s a scary place to be so trapped within yourself that darkness is consuming and yet to move out of it and work to come free from that space is something truly remarkable.
The melancholy of life has always provided us with the most beautiful artistry, and for those experiences, I am grateful because this song and album were very much born from that pain. The bird represents the inner part of the woman longing to fly again but feeling trapped by her past. The song has so much layering and imagery of who this young woman was and how far from herself she was. I have always been fascinated with creative storytelling, and I believe my music and the videos accompanying them showcase that.
What are you most excited about in 2022?
It is empowering other people, women in particular. Maybe it sounds cliche, but for me, this journey and its motivation were about giving back to others, and in turn, I gave back to myself in the most powerful way. I wanted an impossible goal to achieve – coming from no prior musical background, this was the farthest talent from my skillset. I want women to know we can most certainly have it all; no longer do we need to be held down and back by the opinions of the status quo. We are our leaders; let us take back our power. I lived the last year turning the impossible into possible, and I succeeded. So can you. My goal is to continue the rise of ‘Defying Odds’ and bring the world along this fierce journey with me.