My Rhythm and My Blues: Amerie

In this episode of My Rhythm and My Blues, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, author and actress Amerie speaks on musical influences, racial reckoning, parenting and more. Watch and learn about the talented artist, her experiences and current projects:

Intro

Hi, I am Amerie. I am a multi-hyphenate, I just like to say I create. Because that's what I do. I create music, I'm a GRAMMY nominated artist, I've also done some acting, and I'm a huge book nerd. And I recently founded Amerie's Book Club. I am a military brat, and when you grow up that way you don't learn a lot of truths really early. One of the big things I learned that culturally we're different, but people are the same. I also grew up in a very mixed environment. So for me, it was no big deal to be Korean and Black. Literally, like 50% of the people were mixed, and it was not a big deal. So later when I got a lot older and then people would ask me, like "what does that feel like" and I was like, whoa, this is not a big deal. So it surprised me that people were so interested in that

Musical influences

We had a lot of different music in the house, and I think that influenced me a lot. Tchaikovsky, Elvis, Barbra Streisand, and the Bee Gees, which I loved, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, and the Grease soundtrack. I can hear all of those influences in every single album. And then I'm bringing new wave, I liked heavy metal, R&B. I'm bringing in everything that I would bring in as a kid. So I feel like I was literally influenced by everything.

Team

Rich [Harrison] is, I believe hands down, one of the most talented producers. Few years before Rich and I met, I was trying to put together a girl group, it never really happened. Two-and-a-half years after that, I talked to Rich on the phone and we arrange a meeting. He had such incredible music, and like a week or two later, we decided to just start recording. I mean, everything happened so quickly.

Seeing Discrepancies

As far as like having someone pave the way for me in the industry, who's a person of color, I don't think that question ever really crossed my mind. For me, it was just about the music. My assumption was that Black people are making Black music. I never felt like I am a person of color going into an industry that is heavily dominated by white men. It wasn't really a thought in the beginning, I didn't know enough yet. It wasn't until later where I think I was really able to see some of the discrepancies. I noticed it as an artist traveling, and I would see that a lot of stations were playing a lot of Black music and making their existence on Black music, but did not have Black program directors or music directors. And these were things that were so shocking to me. If you have Black music playing such a prominent role on radio over 50% to me of those leadership positions should be filled by someone who's Black, because you're making money directly from that market. And you have to make sure that you are not just appropriating everything.

Racial reckoning

In a lot of ways it's been a very tough year for everyone, but I think that regarding the racial reckoning that's happening, it just feels like finally people are paying attention to the thing that you know Black people specifically have been saying for decades. And then there's of course, a lot of anti-Asian violence, but that's also always happened, too. It just hasn't been as brought to the forefront. It's important to remember the game that's been set up, the hierarchy that white supremacy, or the delusion of white supremacy sets up is that there is a hierarchy when it comes to people who are non-white. And it's not people of color against a white people thing 'cause it's actually an anti-racism thing.
You do have to dismantle white supremacy because it's not real. Because this is what built America, we have to work a lot harder to just uproot the garden and plant new flowers.

Parenting

What's happening right now, it's really affected my parenting in that it's made me realize we have to get to where we're getting to, faster. The kids are just, they're all little geniuses, all of them are. I think my little one is, he's pretty advanced you know, all kids are geniuses, and they absorb everything. And so it's really important to me that we're cognizant of what he's looking at and what he sees. River loves books, which is also why I wanted to do this whole project or initiative. In which you know, I wanted to see children who look like my son, reflected more in children's books. I've felt starved for it really. I mean I was scrolling, looking for books for him, and I was like, this shouldn't be this hard in 2018 to find great picture books, where he doesn't become othered because all of his media are filled with children who don't look like him. And I do feel like that's changing, but we still have a long way to go.

Amerie's Book Club

A little over a year ago, I founded Amerie's Book Club. I like to say it's the modern book club for the modern reader. So it exists online, we have a new book every single month, and then at the end of every month, I do a live chat with the author. And then talk a lot about what they put into their book. But from a different angle in which they may be used to discussing their book, I want it to feel like we're just chatting. We're friends just chatting in the middle of the night about life. And so I think that casual atmosphere really lends a lot to the book club in making it distinct. It's been a really, really awesome experience. And I really do consider it to be a privilege to speak to so many people who create art.
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Femme It Forward

General society is a little afraid of women in positions of power. It was so great to be part of Femme It Forward, I loved doing that, I loved meeting some of the artists I'd never really met before. It really kind of helped blossom some friendships. I think it's awesome that Femme It Forward also has a female promoter.
Well, they say there's no real multitasking, we're handling a lot. Heather, who's the promoter of Femme It Forward, is also a mother as well. And so I think there are so many things that women bring to the table, maybe men can take a note from our playbook and see that we don't have to be like men. Maybe they could be a little more like us, and we have a much more balanced, successful workplace.

What's next?

The next thing I have on the horizon, I have such big ideas and so many things that I want to achieve. I don't really know what my legacy is to be yet. I'm still working on it. I do want to at the very least leave the world a better place.

Follow Amerie on Twitter and Instagram.
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Last updated: 12 Jun 2021, 18:31 Etc/UTC

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Last updated: 12 Jun 2021, 18:31 Etc/UTC