*Some singers need to be surrounded by a variety of equipment to move people, but this powerful artist simply needs an audience.
Abby Dobson is one of those rare songbirds that effortlessly stimulate sensual, soulful and raw emotions using just her vocal instrument, a voice that you don’t just hear…you feel.
Abby’s sound is the alchemy of soul, folk, jazz, gospel, R&B, country, rock and pop, forging a gem that erases musical boundaries in its making. In a word, Abby Dobson’s music is mesmerizing. Abby has performed throughout New York City to rave reviews at well-known venues like S.O.B’s and the legendary Blue Note. Abby and her Band have also opened for Kindred, Leela James, Ledisi, Dwele, Rahsaan Patterson, Chrisette Michele and Robin Thicke.
Abby won BlackPlanet.com’s Soul Beach Music Festival’s First Annual Competition in 2009 and was featured in GIANT Magazine’s September 2009 issue as an artist to watch. Dobson has also sung backgrounds for several recording artists, including Talib Kweli and John Legend. Abby’s debut independent project, entitled “Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On,” is a concept record loosely based on a fairytale.
01. EURweb.com– You performed in Aruba for the Soulbeach Music Festival. How did that come about?
Abby Dobson – I won a competition sponsored by BlackPlanet.com and the Soulbeach Music Festival year before last. I opened for Robin Thicke and Common in Aruba at the festival as a result. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
02. EURweb.com – You have sung background vocals for Talib Kweli, John Legend and Urban Mystic. How did those experiences help you find your own voice?
Abby Dobson – They were wonderful learning experiences that solidified my desire to follow my passion and my own dreams, by any means necessary. I am thankful that I continue to work with Talib Kweli. I am singing the hook and adlibs on his recent single “Cold Rain” from his new album “Gutter Rainbows” scheduled to be released digitally here in the U.S. on January 25, 2011.
03. EURweb.com – Abby, let’s discuss your new project, “Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On.” Tell us about it. How long did you work on it? Who is on the album? And, what do you think of your own project?
Abby Dobson – I could go on for days about this one! My album: “Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting” is like my baby. I worked on it for over three years! It is a concept record loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. I was inspired by the idea of someone waking from a deep sleep. I think that most of us are asleep in our own lives, at work, at school, in our homes, our relationships and in our communities. It is a wakeup call to get up and go make the world you dream. The point is that rather than waiting for a prince to kiss you and wake you, rather than waiting for a principality to create opportunities for you, rather than waiting for someone else to give you what you want and need, know that you are the one you have been waiting on. Whatever you think you don’t have or can’t do, yes you can have and yes you can do. The kiss, however, should first come from you.
The record is a song cycle told in five moods: Bliss, Lady Blue: In the Season of Her Disenchantment, Mean Sleep, In the Castle of My Skin and The Awakening. I just love this project. The project was also recorded and mixed to analog tape. It features some of the most incredible musicians in the country, including Shelton Garner, Nate Jones, Robert Glasper, Skoota Warner, Christian Ver Halen, Raymond Angry, Marvin Sewell, Lonnie Plaxico, Mary Wooten, Daniel Sadownick, Wes Mingus, Queen Aaminah, Darius Booker, Teodross Avery, Maurice Brown, Kendra Ross, Lisala Beatty, Ra-Re Valverde and Gerald Menke, to name a few. These fabulous musicians have worked with a Who’s Who list of well known and well-respected artists and legends in the music business, including Santana, Nicholas Payton, Lizz Wright, Amel Laurieux, Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, Bilal, Jill Scott, Sheryl Crow, and Maxwell, to name just a few. I worked with a wonderful recording and mixing engineer, Pete DeBoer, a protégé of the noted producer, Ron St. Germaine. I also had the pleasure of working with the incredible Grammy award winning mixing engineer, James “Bonzai” Caruso (Damien Marley, Alicia Keys). My album is full of heart. When I set out to make” Sleeping Beauty”, my main objective was to create a body of work that would speak for me even if it was the only musical statement I ever made on this earth during my lifetime. I wanted to create music that would touch hearts, inspire people to follow their hearts and help people reflect, cope and dream. With every step, I crafted “Sleeping Beauty…” from my heart for your heart. I wanted to create music that is timeless. I’m excited to share the music after three plus years. It’s been a process. A lot has changed in these last three plus years, the economy tanked, we elected the first Black President of the United States, everything moves more quickly, mystery is no longer cherished, reality is no longer real…but good music still has the potential to inspire, soothe, strengthen, heal… to be relevant to everyday people living everyday lives. What do I think about my music? I love it and hope your readers will too.
04. EURweb.com – Jazz, blues, gospel, pop, country, folk, classic R&B, Rock and soul have all seemed to inspire you musically. Talk to us about that. Also, which artists have most inspired you?
Abby Dobson – My sound is a mixture of all these beautiful musical soundscapes. It’s hard to give a percentage to each in terms of the amount of influence on me sonically. I love these styles of music for different reasons. I just love good music filled full with Heart & Soul. In fact, if I had to choose a term for my sound I’d choose “Heart Music”. I make music from my heart for yours. I listen to so many different types of music that I love that I knew that my own sound had to be a mixture of them all. If I were in a hotel room listening to my music on my Ipod and someone was trying to figure out my tastes or what kind of person I am, they would have a hard time categorizing me. So “Heart Music” fits best. At its core, it’s soul with a touch of everything I love from Jazz to folk. I can go from listening to Prince to Pat Benatar to Patty Griffin to Sheryl Crow to Yolonda Adams to Sarah Vaughn to Anita Baker to Tracy Chapman to Whitney Houston to Barbara Streisand to Donny Hathaway to Martina McBride to Barbara Hendricks to Mindy Smith to Mary J Blige to Scarface to Hall & Oates to Queen to OutKast to The Carpenters to Bob Marley to Aretha Franklin to Sade to Renee Fleming….and this is just a taste of what I love to listen to. Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Sarah Vaughan, Donny Hathaway, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman and Dolly Parton have been my strongest influences. I would not be the artist I am today without their influence on me collectively. You could say that they all helped raise me up.
05. EURweb.com- What helped you discover and manifest your talents in singing, songwriting and producing?
Abby Dobson – I was born to sing and am a singer first and foremost. My passion for singing helped me to discover my passion for songs, songwriting and producing. One day, when I was about five years old, the grownups in my family were eating dinner and I was in the living room listening to the radio and singing along. I didn’t think it was much of a big deal, but I remember that my aunt told everyone to quiet down and listen to me. It was then that I first discovered that what I loved to do around the house (singing) was and could be a very special thing. I’m especially thankful that my mom is an incredibly creative person and helped develop my passion for music. She took me to piano lessons and singing lesions as a kid and always encouraged me to be creative. She is a poet and a visual artist at her core and never had the opportunity to develop those gifts herself. My mom has been fiercely supportive of me as an artist. Although I’ve always loved songs, I didn’t initially desire to write them. I started writing songs out of necessity really … being unable to find songs that spoke to me. My songwriting voice has become very special to me. It allows me to express my point of view and helps me to make sense of the world. Production I came to later and this too also came out of necessity. I’ve always loved listening to records and the way they are constructed from the drums to the strings, from the bass to the guitar and so on and so on. I started producing when I started performing around New York leading my own band. I produced the live shows that I did from a musical stand point. It is because of this experience that I knew I could produce my record. I wanted a producer to produce my record but knew that no one would care for my vision the way I did. Producing is like building a home you want to live in for years to come. It was hard work but I had a blast.
06. EURweb.com – There is oftentimes a big difference between recording and performing artists. Which one are you?
Abby Dobson – I love recording with live instrumentation and musicians in the same room. Looking across at the studio at the piano player, the guitarist, the bass player and the drummer, being aware of their breathing, creating sound in the same space at the same time…it’s all magical. I however especially love doing all of the above (performing) in front of an open hearted audience who want to be moved just as much (if not more) than they are entertained. I especially enjoy performing in intimate venues where you can really see and feel the energy of the beautiful music loving people who come out to support and hear your music. Performing at these venues, especially S.O.B’s and the Blue Note, has been wonderful. I love performing in my home town (NYC) and these two venues have been particularly good to me. Performing at S.O.B.s is like singing in my living room; it holds a very special place in my heart. The staff and management have been so incredibly supportive to me in my career thus far. S.O.B.’s has also been unmatched in NYC as a continuous supporter of Soul Music, whether from independent or Major Label artists. I think it has been a pioneer in this regard. I also love performing at The Blue Note. The first time I took the stage there I was overwhelmed by all the history. A lover of jazz, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have graced the Blue Note stage. It’s incredible to walk through the area by the bar or upstairs near the dressing rooms and see the picture of Anita Baker laughing with Sarah Vaughan knowing that I have also performed on the same stage and walked some of the same halls. These two artists have been great influences on me as a singer and songwriter and I dream of walking in their shoes. I just love to perform. Recently I performed at the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage in Washington, DC, which is also a special highlight for me.
07. EURweb.com – Speaking of performing, where can we see you perform next?
Abby Dobson – I will be opening up for the incredible singer songwriter, Rahsaan Patterson, at BB Kings in New York City on Saturday, February 12th. I am excited and I just can’t hide it!! (Yes I loved the Pointer Sisters too!) I think Rahsaan Patterson is one of the best voices I have ever heard. I’m looking forward to it.
08. EURweb.com – Thanks for this interview and good luck with your new album, “Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On.”
Abby Dobson – Thank YOU Mr. Lee Bailey! Continued success to you and EURweb.com !