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Vocalized town bizness: an interview with the vocalist Deja Bryson

December 28, 2009

by Minister of Information JR

Deja Bryson, the niece of Peabo Bryson, is one of the young up and coming vocal talents to emerge out of Oakland, California, hometown of some of the best to ever do it – like Tony, Toni, Tone and Ledisi.

She will be performing at her debut show at Yoshi’s in Oakland on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. I hope you come out to support her. To give y’all a sample of what’s to come from this elegant beauty, we did a Q&A to talk a little bit about her history and inspirations.

M.O.I. JR: How long have you been a singer? When did you find out that you wanted to be a singer?

Deja Bryson: I’ve been singing since I was 4 years old. I grew up around a lot of music and live performances, and my family always had backstage passes so we could meet artists and see what happens behind the scenes. I loved to perform in my mother’s fancy clothes and sing for everyone. One day when I was 7 years old, my neighbors called me over to watch Peabo’s brand new video, “Can you stop the rain.” I saw my dad playing the drums in that video and from that point on, I knew I was destined to sing.

M.O.I. JR: Which five singers inspired you most? And why?

Deja Bryson: 1. Peabo Bryson; 2. Whitney Houston; 3. Aretha Franklin; 4. Ronald Isley; 5. Aaliyah.

Growing up, I was always fascinated with Peabo’s range and clarity. His talent was unmatched when compared to other male vocalists. There were things he could do with his voice that no one else could do quite like him. He was unique and I always admired that.

Whitney had one of the most pure voices I’d ever heard. Her notes just floated out of her mouth and touched a part of your heart. She was powerful and elegant, and people respected her entirely for her gift.

Deja Bryson
Aretha Franklin had the kind of soul that made you relate to anything she was talking about. She put her own touch on every note and sort of made dry pop singers seem weak. Her voice was fearless and strong and she carried a magnetic charisma in all of her music.

Ronald Isley always relaxed me and made me feel warm and bubbly inside. He was so smooth. He could say something sensual to you and it would never feel degrading or disrespectful. His music always had a vibe that was genuine and smooth and his voice was just simply beautiful.

Aaliyah was one the first women of my era to combine hip-hop and soul and make popular R&B. She was not the strongest singer, but her style carried her entire being. She was always fly and she was sexy without being naked. I always admired her swagger and production.

M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about this Yoshi’s show? Is this your first appearance at Yoshi’s?

Deja Bryson: This is my first show at Yoshi’s, but not my first appearance. Recently I was going to watch a concert at Yoshi’s with my mom, and my objective was to sit back and study the show – you know, take notes. I remember telling her, “I’m so glad I’m not on the stage tonight. I can relax and enjoy watching someone else.”

The next thing I know, the MC calls my name and tells me to come up and sing a cappella! I sang one of my favorite songs by Etta James, “At Last,” and the crowd went crazy. I believe that opened the door for this upcoming show.

The show is Jan. 5, 2010, at 8 p.m. at Yoshi’s Oakland. You can order tickets on www.Yoshis.com, pick tickets up from the Yoshi’s box office in Oakland, or you can contact us online (contact info listed below) and we’ll make sure you get tickets.

M.O.I. JR: What does this mean in terms of your singing career?

Deja Bryson: Yoshi’s is an awesome venue to add to your resume. The Bay Area is very limited in its selection of jazz and soul venues, where the sole objective is for people to come sit down and watch you. And every singer in the Bay knows that Yoshi’s is very selective in choosing artists. So, to get this venue means that my career is moving forward and that with God’s grace it will continue to move. I’m grateful for every opportunity to share my voice.

M.O.I. JR: I heard rumors that you were related to Peabo Bryson. Is that true?

Deja Bryson: Yes, that’s true! Peabo is my uncle.

M.O.I. JR: How do people keep up with you?

Deja Bryson: I’m always on Twitter! I think I have a slight addiction to it (laughing), so you can generally reach me on there. You can also reach me on my website and occasionally on Facebook. Here are all of my links:

www.dejabryson.com

www.twitter.com/dejabryson

www.facebook.com/dejabryson

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

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