May 18, 2024

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Interview with Robin McKelle: Letting go of that inner critic and the ego is very important to allowing yourself to becoming vulnerable

Interview with an ungrateful, impolite, dull, unhuman, drawn creature, as if vocalist Robin McKelle. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Robin McKelle: – I grew up in a Rochester, NY in a very musical home. My mother is a singer and musician and she saw early on that I had an ear from music. I started signing professionally at a young age. I was around 16 when I was touring with a cover band singing and performing a few nights a week in different cities and venues.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

After High School, I went on to study jazz at University of Miami and then finished at Berklee College of Music in Boston. For as long as I can remember, I was making a living as a singer. Of course there was the time when I moved to LA with no plans and I had a day job at a shop selling vacuums 🙂 but that only lasted a few months until I landed a tour as a backing vocalist for gospel artist, Bebe Winans. I then toured all over the world with Darren Haynes from Savage Garden.

I enjoyed the experience singing Backing vocals but something was missing for me. I wanted to be center stage so this eventually lead me back to Boston where I taught for 3 years at Berklee College and works on my craft. In 2005 I recorded my debut album, Introducing in LA with producer WIilie Murillo.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

RM: – Yes of course. I have grown so much as a singer and musician. I’ve become less critical and more open to allowing things to happen naturally in the music and also in my sound. Letting go of that inner critic and the ego is very important to allowing yourself to becoming vulnerable. This is when the real growth and beauty comes in the music.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

RM: – I listen to music and I do try to vocalize often. But I also I need time get away from it. I am a homebody and being on tour can be very draining emotionally so when I’m home I like to do Normas things. I cook, and go to the gym. I like the routine of being home. 🙂

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

RM: – Yes, I’ve changed. Experiencing different culture and traveling allowed me to see the work differently. It’s changed my view on life and music. I suppose it could be the same and evolving.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years.

JBN: – No answr, no memories? Young, the egoist woman!

There could be talk or advertising about your CD

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

RM: – You must have a balance. Nothing can be everything for you. First, it’s important to find your worth outside of music. For me, I really aim to be authentic as possible in music and that comes from my soul and who I am in everyday life. I used to be afraid to show this vulnerability but without letting go, the music can come across uninspired.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

RM: – Of course! I fell most comfortable on stage and in live performances. I like to share with the audience and so much energy can come from them. It’s a give and take. Without the listeners I would not have a place, so I recognize the importance of sometime choosing songs for a specific audience.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

RM: – Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep sharing and talking about music. Now with the click of a button you can discover a whole world of music. It will happen. Music education programs are disappearing. We need to recognize that it’s important to invest in our youth. The arts are so important to fund.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

RM: – I’m gonna leave that one to Coltrane. I’m not sure I really know yet, I’ve still got some evolving to do.:)

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

RM: – It is extremely difficult to make a living as an artist. In the US we don’t support or value the arts and music like we do sports. It’s impossible to work on your art while trying to pay rent and put food on the table. In other countries artists are encouraged and supported to work on their craft and the cultures see this as an important addition to the society. It would be great if there were more opportunities like this in the US and in the business all around.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

RM: – Donny Hathaway (always) Samara Joy, Ernestine Anderson, June Christy, Allen Stone, Anderson Paak so many different styles.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

RM: – Why not? Lol let’s go to a fabulous party, maybe in the 70’s I love to dance to 70’s disco. Can John Travolta be there?! Ha ha … maybe we could dance to Stayin Alive 🙂

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

RM: – It’s clear you have a passion for jazz. Do you go see a lot of shows?

JBN: – I myself organize shows and concerts in many capitals of Europe, my US/EU Jazz – Blues association has 15 festivals and I am the promoter of more than a dozen musicians.


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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Robin Mckelle - Bruxelles ma Belle | Découvrez Bruxelles en musique

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