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taragirl [January 17th 2007]

First I want to thank taragirl for doing this interview.

Dwight: From listening to your album one can detect a number of influences. Who are your influences?
taragirl: I’ve always been in love with really fantastic singers; people that don’t just sound pretty but that are literally skilled as vocalists – I admire any artist that can let loose and improvise, interpret a melody interestingly, and hold it down live. At some point in my life, I have tried very hard to emulate artists like Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Mariah Carey, EnVogue, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Sam Cooke, N’dea Davenport, Yolanda Adams.

Dwight: How would you describe your music?
taragirl: Heavy-hitting vocals, tight production with an organic feel, coupled with some juicy melodies and heartfelt songwriting! Soul Patrol said I'm "somewhere between Lyn Collins (from James Brown) and EnVogue”...there's definitely a very strong female perspective coming thru (I suppose that’s my tara-girl power I guess:)


Dwight: What is your definition of soul?
taragirl: Ooh, I think you know the answer to that question:) I have a whole track devoted to it - #26 on my album entitled “What’s Soul Music?” Without quoting the album directly (which you should check out!), I say that, Soul is truth. It’s anything that inspires you emotionally and makes you FEEL. There is no “right” answer or “wrong” answer; it might be negative or positive or in-between, but it creates an experience for that individual. And that’s what makes it so powerful. It’s what we all should strive for in all forms of art, and life really.

Dwight: What is the significance behind the title of your album, "The 26th power?"
taragirl: To me, “The 26th Power” is the energy surrounding everything taragirl; I was born on the 26th of the month, and I also consider it a pretty random number – and me being a pretty random person...I guess something makes me identify with it. The presence of 26 in my life is very consistent, so it took on a special meaning for me and I thought, “Well the title of your first album should be something personal..” - So there it is.

Dwight: You have been a busy woman for the past while. What projects or events have you been doing?
taragirl: Man, you ain’t never lie! I feel like I barely come up for air sometimes. Most people don’t realize that right now, taragirl is a one-woman operation. I was privileged enough to be the opening act for the Brand New Heavies, Avant and Hil St. Soul this past year while still playing mostly in Philly, and the album got a lot of love from the online community; in addition I also collaborated with some local artists and got a chance to be seen at the Billboard R&B/HipHop conference.

Dwight: If you had the chance to collaborate with an artist (or artists) whom and why?
taragirl: I used to go see John Legend perform before he really blew up, so to me, he still feels like a fellow artist trying to come up - one whom I admire and would love to sing with! And Talib Kweli, cause I just love his talent and what he’s about. And if Gwen Stefani or Kelis or somebody cool like that would do a girl power anthem, I’d jump on that in a second!

Dwight: You've mentioned before that you would love to do collaboration with Robin Thicke. Why Robin Thicke?
taragirl: I have real respect for what he’s accomplished already – just the fact that he came from a production background and is not exactly a teen heartthrob, but can still look sexy as hell and sing his ass off – I give him props for making the leap to artist. He has the ability to create really dynamic, elaborate productions, as well as keep it subtle and beautiful with just a piano/vocal piece. I’d sing, “Mary had a Little Lamb” if he wanted me to! – Anything just to work with him.

Dwight: Do you feel that R&B and soul music today is "revolving" instead of "evolving?" (That is the music seems to repeat the same style and pattern instead of coming up with new stuff) How do you feel about the current trend of R&B and Soul music today? Are you happy or disappointed with it?
taragirl: I think about music and where it’s going all the time – especially for R&B and soul music. There’s a constant shift in what’s popular and what’s “accepted” by the general public…Younger fans are fed certain images and messages over and over again, so they learn one definition of what music is and what it can represent. Much of the time, I feel that both the sound and the message are “dumbed down” or even faked (with the help of audio enhancement) for listeners. It’s up to real artists who have something to say and the talent with which to say it, to challenge that one “definition” and keep making good, interesting music that’s multi-dimensional.

Dwight: Your song "Saturday morning love" is a nice mellow track. What was the inspiration behind that track?
taragirl: Lyrically, that song pretty much tells its own story. It’s looking back and remembering the sweetest times from an old relationship – that being Saturday morning:)

Dwight: Being this is your first album, is there anything that you have learned from producing an album that a future vocalist might need to know?
taragirl: Absolutely. There’s so much involved in creating your first recording. As an artist inside the studio, I think it takes special skill to get back to the spiritual place you were when you wrote the song. You have to express those feelings as if it were the first time, and believe me, that can be very challenging given the circumstances. From an audio engineering perspective, I also didn’t realize there were so many options! Just vocal harmony levels alone can affect the overall sound of the music. You also want to maintain a sense of personal style throughout; each decision you make as far as arrangement and tone and improvisation, etc.. Helps create the final product. What I’m most pleased about with this project is that I believe we succeeded in creating a complete concept with a beginning, middle and end. It’s a good introduction to who I am, but in my mind, still just the beginning!

Dwight: When taragirl is just relaxing, what does she listen to?
taragirl: Mmm. Honestly, when I truly need to relax, I put on some really old Dinah Washington or John Coltrane albums. I completely play music based on my mood at that particular moment. Right now, I’m really enjoying Citizen Cope, MIA, Kelis, the new Christina Aguilera stuff, Robin Thicke, Lupe Fiasco and John Legend.

Dwight: How many of your songs off your album are from personal experience?
taragirl: Every last one of them!

Dwight: Any plans for a new album coming soon?
taragirl: I’m itching to get started on something new, but I want to make sure enough people experience the current project too! It’s another challenge of being an independent; the timeframe it takes to get your music into people’s consciousness is a lot longer than when you’re a major release. I’ve started writing and I have a lot of ideas for some new material – I hope to work with some new producers and show people more of my personality – more energy, more soul, just MORE! I also have some collaboration with some indie hip-hop artists coming out this year (Reef the Lost Cauze and Kufie Knotz outta Philly.)

Dwight: taragirl I must say that your vocals are amazing and you seem to sing with such passion and soul. Describe to us when you decided music would be the thing for you?
taragirl: It’s funny you say that because people still seem to be floored that my voice is coming out of my body!…I guess it’s just strange to them that one little person can have so much soul.
For me, deciding to pursue music felt less like a conscious decision, and more like a natural progression of who I was. I would sing, I would write – I would do all these things even if I weren’t “in the industry”.

Dwight: Besides singing, are you gifted in other areas musically?
taragirl: Yes, songwriting came later for me. I also think I have a special knack for creating interesting vocal arrangements ~ that is my favorite part of building a song. I also play a lil piano, but nothing I’d write home about. :)

Dwight: Is there anything that you would like to say to your Just Soul members?
taragirl: First of all, thank you for caring enough to feature underground artists like myself! I think I bring a new energy to this music that’s not quite like anyone else out right now.

Dwight: Just Soul readers: Be sure to check out one of taragirl's concerts. Her stage presence and her energy will convince everyone that she definitely has soul.

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