By: Mut Asheru (Reeee-wind *UTM repost)
We are all strangers on earth seeking to master the inner beauty movement. Recording artist, Lina, has provided an excellent soundtrack to accompany us on this journey with her latest Hidden Beach release “The Inner Beauty Movement”. (IBM)
This 5 time Grammy nominated Texas soul artist got her start as a songwriter. Whilst shopping her demo that showcased her songwriting abilities, the label heads at Atlantic also found that they loved her voice and signed her as an artist. “Stranger on Earth” (S.O.E) was released on the label and because of Lina’s eclectic style the label really didn’t know what to do with the project.
Now don’t get it twisted. The music she throws down is definitely soul. She draws heavily on jazz influences and her operatic voice which she can flip in several different languages doesn’t fit the mold of today’s fast-food version of Soul/R&B. So like many artists who simply stick to the foundation of good music, good lyrics and heart and soul vocal stylings, this genre-toppler has been labeled Neo-Soul.
Plenty of articles have been written about her sweet, dreamy voice which makes you feel like heaven is your playground. This isn’t one of those articles. Her music speaks for itself. Unsigned has resigned ourselves to give you a look at Lina’s good sense, business acumen and dedication to creativity. She’s a warrior that has had to defend her right to create freely and remain true to herself.
“I fight for my people. That’s been a problem. If someone’s down with me I’m loyal and I’ve been successful with getting the record company to see my point of view. Mainly because I’m not a typical R&B artist. So I know that they may not understand why I need a certain person on my team.”
The Inner Beauty Movement still showcases her affinity for 20s swing and jazz, but the element that blatantly stands out and slaps you across the face throughout the entire project is what an exceptional songwriter this sista is. And she says she’s still evolving! Eighteen songs rich, the I.B.M is much more personal than her first album where Lina found herself more or less just
experimenting with the style of music that she liked. This body of work gives us a much more in-depth look at the intelligent woman she is and the life experiences she has been through and learned from which makes this album more accessible and relatable for her listeners. “When I wrote Stranger on Earth I was writing for myself,” says Lina.
“And then because I started out in the industry as a writer. S.O.E was like a project of mine so there were no rules. But being in the industry for the years I was with Atlantic and being on the road, I realized that it was responsibility. People are going to listen. When I got to Atlantic, my first album was already recorded and I went to Hidden Beach and the album was mostly done. I had worked on an album (S.O.E) that I knew was gonna be heard but the concept of responsibility never entered my mind. I was just playing around with a sound that I liked. (With I.B.M) I realized I had the podium and I had the opportunity to minister to people who were going through things that I may have gone through so I was more responsible this time and it was more personal.”
In the beginning, Lina would demo the songs that she had written and the people she worked with encouraged her sing those songs she had scribed. At the time she wasn’t interested in singing although she had sung in church since the age of four. Lina’s mother is a jazz singer who after singing in the church went on the road. A self-proclaimed mimicker Lina would practice singing to the likes of Sarah Vaughn. She can sing baroque and classical music. Her now manager, shopped her demo to major labels. Within four months of shopping the demo which turned out to ‘Stranger On Earth’, Lina had ignited a bidding war between Atlantic, Capitol, Priority and RCA.
Universal themes of love, independence and self-esteem are expertly handled in a fashion that is refreshing and never preachy. The intensely groovy ‘Come to Mama’ speaks of how to effectively love and understand a man who has maybe gone through rough times. While ‘Leaving You’ speaks about independence and leaving a situation because it’s the best thing to do for self. There’s
something on her for everyone. Lina’s urban-exotic style of dress is something she’s has had to go round and round with label
marketing execs about from the beginning.
“I did have a problem when I first signed to Atlantic who at the time had Brandy and Lil Kim. They thought that maybe that was the look for black women because it wasn’t black people handling my styling. But after a battle, I got to work with stylists who listened to the music cuz a lot of times when you sign deals they just style you with the latest, trendiest style or whatever’s out. So they listened to my music, because I requested that. I was open for ideas, I wasn’t trying to be a professional in styling…I just wanted to work with people who understood where I was coming from.”
With that said, Lina designs clothes as well and has plans to open a store in Dallas! Although you will find her music in the Neo-Soul category at the record shops, Lina doesn’t consider herself as Neo-Soul. “My music is international music. I describe it as music that is representative of what we are as a people right now. All the different races and all the different influences and cultures together. It’s honest. It’s not contrived. I just open myself up to be used for whatever God is filtering through me,” remarks Lina.
Already at work on her next project called ‘Love, Life and Songs’, Lina has also developed her own entertainment company called Moodstar Recording which has yielded the highly heralded “Save Your Soul” CD compilation series. ‘Save Your Soul’ is a project where mixture of talented musiciansongwriters get together and make music for the art of it. She makes no small claim and declares that she has the next Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin on her roster.
“Some of the people on the project are big names who have hot songs out and really want to do what they feel passionate about. Scott Storch is on there and he’s a concert pianist. But with the music that he does, you wouldn’t know. So I’m really excited about my next album and the next ‘Save Your Soul’ CD. “Save Your Soul is for people who have a passion for music, not just to drive a Bentley,” says Lina. “It’s not about looking for clones but helping new artists develop who they truly are.”