Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Naturalista, Cheryl Woods' New CD Release is "Courageous"!

I had the great pleasure of interviewing our fellow naturalista, and esteemed member of the Afro Squad, singer/song-writer, Cheryl Woods.  Courageous, Cheryl Woods' sophomore album, is authentic; it gives us a soothing mix of Jazz, Neosoul, and R & B, with lyrics with which we can all relate!  

Courageous by Cheryl Woods - Album Cover
During our interview, Cheryl gives advice to other aspiring singer/song-writers, shares her go-to natural hairstyles, lets us in on her song-writing process, and offers her fans a free digital download when you pre-order a physical copy of Courageous, here:  http://www.cherylwoods.bandcamp.com.  

IRG: Who musically inspires you?
CW:  "I am inspired by artist like Alicia Keys and John Legend. I love singers who write songs and play instruments."

IRG: What influences (if any) should we expect to hear in your songs?
CW:  "I hope that my material has a lot of myself in it, but I think that one can't help but be influenced by the artists they listen to frequently. I have already been told that my title track, Courageous, reminds some people of Jill Scott, and my song She reminds others of something Brandy would sing. I just tried to be me and I felt like drawing the listener in on some tracks by singing soft and sultry, while on other tracks like Don't Change, I belted it out with very little filter. The tone was meant to be somber. What you get in Courageous is my life in transition, which is the inspiration for the title. I made some huge decisions that changed the course of my life. Of all of the tracks, the title track, Courageous unveils my testimony and reveals my head space during the year long process of recording my sophomore CD."

IRG: Did you ever take vocal lessons?
CW: "I took voice with the late Therman Bailey while residing in New York City. He has worked with the likes of Whitney Houston and tended to be quite humble about his roster of artists."

IRG:Any upcoming live performances?
CW:  "I am planning a CD listening party but haven't set a date. My last live performance was Labor Day weekend in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania."

IRG: What one piece of advice would you give other aspiring singer/song-writers?
CW:  "Determination, hard work and persistence are key elements to getting involved in the music industry." 

IRG: Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to record a CD, but are a little apprehensive?
CW:   "If you're doing what you love, go ahead and face your fear. Also, the one thing that is in an artist's favor in recording is that you can re-record what you don't like and you're in a booth alone. But with that being said, people will expect you to sing like you've recorded so be able too deliver." 

IRG: Tell us what connects (commonalities) you with your fans?
CW:  "My fans are listeners who appreciate good singing and meaningful music. In the world filled with technical ways to alter an artist's true capabilities, my fans like that I perform as well as my CD sounds. I've also received commentary about a person's ability to relate to the lyrics in their personal life. That means a lot to me because so many of my lyrics are inspired by on my own life experiences or the experiences others have shared."

IRG: Tell us something about Cheryl that most people don't know, but would be surprised to find out.
CW:   "I have a tattoo of my pet turtle who died in 1997. Her name was Pnelope and I had her for twelve years."

IRG: Who's your favorite musician, singer/song-writer -- any genre, known or unknown, and why?
CW:   "I have loved Stevie Wonder since I was a little girl. He inspires me to write about life and love. I am also a fan of Michael Jackson who is truly the epitome of  an artist. I learned that no note or sound is off-limits when singing or recording."
IRG:  I loooove Michael Jackson too!

IRG: When writing your songs, what's your process or routine?
CW:   "I really don't have a process to my writing. I could be inspired by just about anything. Some of my favorite songs have been written in the studio, on the spot. Sometimes, I dream about a song and wake up and start writing. I usually write based on strong feelings, whether it's love, sadness, anger, world issues...I just pick up the brush and paint, flap my wings and fly..allow myself to be vulnerable. If I censor myself, I am not giving my fans truth. And that is what speaks most intimately."

IRG: What hairstyles work best for you when you're on the road, performing?
CW:  "Lately, it has been ponytails and crochet braids".

IRG: What are your go-to natural hairstyles during your down time?
CW:  "Wash-n-go is my favorite. It's low maintenance."

IRG: What are your go-to natural hair products?
CW:  "I made my own hair elixir of oils, 100% virgin coconut oil, Carol's Daughter's Monoi line, Camille Rose and Eco-Styler gel with Olive Oil.  As you can see, I have an arsenal! LOL!"

Just a few of my favorites from the CD:

We congratulate our sister for following her dreams and for giving us such an amazing album!

Learn more interesting facts about Cheryl Woods, and her musical history, below:


The vocal styling of Cheryl Woods calls to mind such singers as Jill Scott, Aaliyah and Faith Evans. But this Cleveland-raised songstress embodies a style -- soulful, passionate and pretty all-at-once – that is uniquely her own and cultivated in the churches and talent shows of her eclectic Midwestern upbringing. Cheryl released her second independent CD, Courageous on August 2nd, which is already receiving radio airplay in several countries. Much like Cheryl’s first CD, My First Love (LaDoll Music, 2012), listeners hear songs from the heart with a jazzy and soulful blend. Cheryl wrote every song on Courageous and functioned as the executive producer. Her vision for this project was to demonstrate more vocal versatility while allowing herself to become more comfortable at expressing her creative side. Cheryl also hooked up with long-time friend, pianist and songwriter, Bob Ivory and produced two of his songs, “Why Did You Let Me” and “I Love You.”

Cheryl traces her musical roots back to the day her mother overheard Cheryl singing tunes from a Minnie Riperton album. At the ripe age of seven, her Mom promptly entered Cheryl into a talent show at a local Catholic School. Along with her sister and God-sister singing background, they won first place. Cheryl’s musical abilities are broad and varied, and include her start on the violin at the age of eight, the flute at the age of 13, lyric writing at the age of 12, and teaching herself to play the organ at 15. As an adult Cheryl studied voice in New York City with the late Therman Bailey and recently took piano lessons for three years.

As a child, Cheryl performed with her family gospel choir who opened for the likes of Al Green, Dorothy Norwood and Shirley Caesar. As a sophomore in college, Cheryl recorded a solo on her family’s first independent CD which received radio airplay in several states. During her school years, Cheryl sung in the choir, winning medals for participating in her school’s vocal competitions. A natural-born artist, Cheryl spent her childhood in a dance group with her sister and childhood friend, performed in all-city band, and was a member of the drama club.
Cheryl also appeared in several plays at Karamu Theater in Cleveland, Ohio and The Ohio Theater with the Cleveland Opera. Cheryl also wrote and performed a song entitled, "Love's Calling" produced by a Clevelander named Bill Richardson. This song became the theme song for the transition into the daily Lottery Number announcement on FM93.1.  During college at Ohio University, Cheryl performed with a three-girl group that played local bars, restaurants and festivals and recorded jingles for their college radio station.

Determined to see her dreams of a music career come true, Cheryl took a job in New York City and began to pursue the music business aggressively.  Her endeavors led to Cheryl co-writing and recording on Michael Fredo’s self-titled debut album (Warner Bros./Qwest) a tune that was used to launch the "Tommy Girl" fragrance commercial. She also shared writing and vocal talents on the hip-hop film "Black and White," starring Brooke Shields, Mike Tyson, and Allen Houston.

Brains to go with her “girl-next-door” beauty, Cheryl put down the microphone got married and had a son but could not surrender her love of music entirely. The success of Cheryl’s first independent CD led her to perform in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and gain thousands of fans across the globe. Cheryl is hoping that with her CD, Courageous, she will be able to gain a broader presence and increase her fan base. Cheryl gives us so much to look forward to with her new project. Her vocal range is impressive, as she belts out in gritty tones, tracks like “Don’t Change” to an acoustic guitar and congas, and sultry sounds like you’ll hear on “Next Level.” The song “She” is another feminine anthem, similar to a BeyoncĂ© track that reminds a woman to know her worth and gives us a powerful RnB rendition that makes you want to get up and dance.  Cheryl says, “I sing about love, life and the pursuit of happiness. Lyrically, one at any stage of a romantic relationship can relate to Cheryl’s artistic viewpoint. Courageous makes one appreciate good music, honest words and authentic singing. Cheryl's CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, & Google Play.

Keep up on the latest with Cheryl, via her websites, and follow her on social media: 

Website: cheryllwoods.com
Reverbnation: https://www.reverbnation.com/ IamCherylWoods
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ iamcherylwoods
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ Iamcherylwoods
Tumblr: iamcherylwoods.tumblr.com

Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks

Thanks for reading, AND listening!


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