Kemara vows life is not worth living if she cannot create and share the lessons derived from such an act, and she urges y’all to remember: #BlackMentalHealthMatters”
Here at The Artistry we were able to speak with Kemara G. Night, a Published author, seasoned multidisciplinary artist, and social justice advocate.
Below you will find her interview with V-Henny as you learn about Who is Kemara Night.
V-Henny: Can you tell us how you got started.
Kemara Night: The arts are literally in my blood. My grandfather was a musician (sax, piano, and guitar) in a band. Before I even knew all his loves, I found an attraction to them myself. My father is a writer and also musically-inclined. I like to think I got the former from him specifically. Since childhood I have always been creating. My first songs can be found on a cassette tape recorded by yours truly around the tender age of four years old. This was also the age range in which I took a liking to painting, reading and writing (yes she #advanced!), and acting. I was the lead in both my pre-school’s plays (“Swan Lake” and “Grease” respectively) and was often called “a ham” by my mom. I got started in the arts-and-entertainment fields before I even knew what they were. Most children are naturally inclined to creative expression but me? I know I was born to do it.
V-Henny: Who inspired you to make music?
Kemara Night: I didn’t necessarily have an inspiration when it came to songwriting and composition, however I did know I wanted to be like – or more accurately, yield similar impact of – the greats that touched me both sonically and spiritually. I fondly remember going on excursions to the Virgin flagship that used to exist in what I consider the “good old days” of Times Square, NYC. I still own CD’s from there, the last I recall buying [from Virgin] being my Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits and a 50’s R&B anthology pack of three discs. I had to be no more than nine years old or so. My soul has always held inclination towards the eclectic and the classics. I never discriminated when it came to music. It all held value, even if I could admit something was not my cup of tea. My first three CD’s bought for me were P!nk’s “M!ssundaztood”, Beyonce’s “Dangerously in Love”, & Britney Spears’s “Toxic”. Albums that quickly became mine because my mother tired of me blasting them on her stereo repetitively (LOL) include artists Tamia, Janet Jackson, and En Vogue. Both my parents, of Black-American descent often had Throwback Soul (70s-80s primarily) blasting somewhere, but each of their tastes were still quite distinct. My dad was who introduced me to “Old Skool” & Underground Rap; we wouldn’t go anywhere without blasting some Rakim & Eric B., EPMD, Salt n’ Pepa, etc. He also put me on to House which I ironically didn’t cling much to until I entered into the Vogue scene. Where he kept it #onculture, my mom introduced me to the palpable vibes of Classic Rock: Eagles, Aerosmith, Queen, etc. Thus, the inspiration was not any one keyplayer, pun unintended. I believe having that diversity from so young enabled me to expand my interests beyond typical scope. I would joke that my iPod would switch from Sade to Slipknot – except it wasn’t a joke though. Pertaining to music and the arts in general, “singularity” has never been my strong suit. It truly is all-or-nothing, though in the “absence of” there was bound to be something coming from my own throat, heart, or hands.
V-Henny: Have you ever felt discouraged by the industry and if so how did you overcome the thought/feeling?
Kemara Night: Strides have been evident however, the music and entertainment industries still do not widely cater to women like me: dark skin, average build, quirky, and alternative. If you are one or a combination of these things, you will typically find it most favored in a more media-traditional body i.e. light-complected in thin or bombshell mode. In the midst of discouragement, I typically overcome by recalling my purpose. As pessimistic as it sounds, I have toyed with the idea of, “What if I never ‘make it’?” The prospect used to frustrate me but the older I get, I balance this cynicism with the faith that whoever is meant to be moved by me will experience me, period. I have dreams of performing on Saturday Night Live and The Grammys, touring the world, and simply sharing my artistry in various ways. Yet, if I never make it mainstream, at least I know that what I did held merit and I never sacrificed my integrity for a quick buck. The thing is, I know no part of this system was truly made for people like me so if I am meant to make a difference in some capacity, that mission will push through regardless. I am tired every day, but even when I deluded myself into thinking I could stop, the songs persisted, the words poured, and I knew there was no way to deny it. I am here to stay, and any industry is either going to recognize it or lose out.
V-Henny: In order to succeed in life you have to know how to give credit and give back . Who would you give credit to for your success thus far? `Who would you give back to ?
Kemara Night: God is the first and foremost. In my darkest moments I was provided with insight from above. Stories for another time (catch them on my YouTube one of these days), but I have to always give it up to The One. Next I share that love to anyone who has ever supported me – especially prior to me believing I was “support-worthy”. From the colleagues that paid for my college applications when I couldn’t; to the strangers that were delighted to buy my books and have me sign them; to even a post reshare on The ‘Gram, my work can only expand through the dedication and love of those who experience it. Lastly, I offer my credit to those that have inspired me both through media and personal exchange. Though my work lives within me, often my catalyst for motion came from experiencing someone else in process. There are things I have created that really only made sense after I digested another’s art and for that, I can only be grateful. I too have had the privilege of being that for people and that is the point I think, to inspire others to know they have it in them just as much as I or anyone else does. Important note: if something is directly motivated, I think it is crucial to include a note of dedication or “After” within the piece; great minds think alike – it is only fair, I believe, to praise that “uniformity” when it is starkly evident…
V-Henny: How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Kemara Night: I am still struggling to encapsulate my work into a singular phrase. Growing up I would say my favorite genres are “Rock & Rap rolled with Soul.” In essence, this is how I would describe my musical style but even that is not wholly accurate. The issue with labels is that once you try to divert from them, contention ensues. While I’ve come to acknowledge that people only “know” what you show them, I also recognize the cognitive dissonance when endeavoring to expand. Not just with me! This is a phenomenon vastly exemplified throughout media whether it be child stars maturing, or musicians entering different lanes, and so forth. For instance, I have been “making music” far longer than I was a spoken word poet. It was only because I held greater notoriety in the poetry world that people were aghast when I would say I’m something more than that. To that end, I was writing short stories before poems, but I digress! Currently more Rap/spittin’-based music can be found in my repertoire but if one were to peruse my IG, private recordings, or YouTube, they could find Neo-Soul, Rock, Folk, and Gospel influences. Moreover, I also songwrite and there is no barrier to the genres I create for that either. Like I said, I don’t do one thing – don’t think I ever will, LOL – and I like it that way. Thus, let’s circle back to the beginning: I create whatever flows from my soul, and at this juncture, that [Soul] and Rap are two genres heavily touched upon. Ask me again in a year, and I hope the answer will be just as transitional.
V-Henny: What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
Kemara Night: Considering I am not “just a musician”, I would truly be doing what I already am. 2021 is the year I have been more pronounced in my solo endeavors but I do this 25/8, truly. It has really been battling mental illness, Anxiety especially, that has kept me from attaining the heights I know I deserve deep down beyond the fear. Yet, I sing and hum everywhere I go; I write on napkins when I don’t have paper; I record myself and entertain friends and audiences; I think, think, think and then make things out of it (share them too). Nothing would change, it would just be awesome to expand who gets to witness it!
V-Henny: What were some of the steps you had to take to get to where you’re at in your career?
Kemara Night: There is a quote I’ve seen in passing and to paraphrase, it said, “It will haunt you if someone who’s not as dope as you goes farther simply because they believed in themselves more.” As mentioned prior, “I does this” in private for my own joy. The sharing really only began when I was a teen, as people started to notice my inner world and asked that I share it. I allowed this desire because I saw the merit in doing so. People felt less alone, many felt understood, and overall someone often left grateful, if not genuinely inspired. Frankly, I was not confident! Self-trust was foreign, however, the idea of, “You’re here now so you might as well show out,” would come to mind – so I did or at least tried to. Though my trip to Georgia had its bumps, I came back with more blessings than bruises, feel me? Now I can place “out of state performer” under my belt, all because I respected myself and my art enough to go for it. Time has wizened me to see the value in my gifts, and to then embark upon them because truly, it isn’t always about talent, but passion!
V-Henny: How long have you had this creative vision and what pushes you to be consistent ?
Kemara Night: As I answer this, I noticed that the time just hit 11:11 and it’s rather ironic to me because I think “consistency” is a frequent wish – and battle – of mine. Making the art is easy – it’s the consistency in showcasing the vision that bears difficulty. I still have growing to do in that regard. Just today I posted something on Instagram; I didn’t post for over two weeks. I am very private and I struggle because I feel called to share (indeed, I have seen the powerful results when I do) but squanching the worries of my Ego is a frequent fight. I made a promise to myself to make this the year where I release the most content I can. That includes my first music video, music (check), vlogs, out of state performances (check), and other endeavors. Considering I am a multi-disciplinary artist, I often imagine ways to incorporate my arts into each other. This is my second hindrance to building consistency: healing perfectionism. There are projects I have been yearning to develop and release for months or even years but have yet to for the fear of–, well, just fear. “Perfectionism”, to me, is the fear of not having your own vision measure up to your execution. I feel this is more than just a phase, but a divine mission for me. At my darkest moments i.e. mental hospitals, in the clutches of abusers, etc., the arts were the only thing holding me down. Similarly, I have had people tell me my work is why they do what they do. I cannot take that lightly! Sometimes, I psych myself out with such a purpose weighted on me. I am not the most amazing artist to have ever lived, but I will be damned if my authenticity and artistry don’t manifest into the masterpieces I envision. That stated, 2021 numerologically is a “five-year”. “Five” is the number of change and transformation. This is the time to level-up and alter mindsets from agony to abundance. I am not certain, but I hold conviction and that is what is reminding me to keep up the momentum. Many of us can feel it in the air…”now or never” is in full ass effect.
V-Henny: What is one message you would give to your fans?
Kemara Night: I often have people walk away feeling like they cannot measure up to me, which is mildly humorous considering I had low self-esteem for so long. Even I look at my scars and wonder, “How could anyone feel below me? Below anyone?!” I want to practice what I’ve been preaching – if you feel like you have nothing to offer, think again. Another great “Anonymous” quote comes to mind: “Someone notices you every day.” Whether you accept that or not, it is important to be mindful of what you’re offering into this world. This is not meant to make you fearful. Instead, consider that we all process information differently. Maybe something I say won’t hit somebody, but when you (whoever that special “you” might be) say that something in your unique way, you may potentially unlock someone’s entire world! I promise You, just go for it as honestly and strongly as you can, “bravery” or “confidence” aside. What you say or do literally could alter someone’s entire moment, day, dare I say Life. So live lovely, and let your truth speak loud in the way (or ways) it most greatly yearns to.
V-Henny: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Kemara Night: A few months ago I shared a photograph I set up of my limited edition Control vinyl. I tagged Janet Jackson in my Story, and miraculously she shared it. No, I was not the only tribute shared, but out of thousands made, it felt amazing knowing someone of her stature would see my creation and repost. It has always been a dream to meet and perform with her, but for the first time, it felt like it could be real one day. Chances are slim but crazier stuff has happened! So I hold faith on that. It would also be iconic as heck to have a track with Rakim The God MC, as well as Tobe Nwigwe and his crew. I also have high hopes for Erykah Badu and Missy to see me – which, sidebar, some of the people I wish to work with have worked together in some capacity so #alignment, haha! Stevie Nicks would be another awesome candidate and J. Cole too (I think Dreamville is the ONLY label I’d let sign me). If Sade popped out wanting some people, I would throw my hat in to create with her band as well. Beyond these heavy hitters, there are many of my contemporaries and colleagues I would love to work with one day also, such as Rocky Snyda, Killa K, and quite a few others (if you don’t know them, go check the vibes after this interview!). I’d be remiss if I did not shout-out those that put me on early (musically) before I had the sliver of confidence I do now: @J_TheGodIs promoting and seeing me; @BrothaBrooklyn for being my first and only bandleader; @RaztahTree for entrusting me on his mixtape, which was also my first hook; @FesahRollins / @Stigity__ / Mike Mezzl (homie has too many handles, LOL), for inviting me to collab on what became my first big music project, “Hallelujah Remix”. I worked with y’all once and I would again – my gratitude is immense. The names listed are just the tip of the iceberg. I have more dreams to manifest, seeing other people within those visions. That is the point after all: to keep the vibe going, long after any of us still are. Áse and much love.