by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

I have known Iminah, the renaissance woman who works under the brand name “From Ghetto to Goddess,” for a few years, and I continue to be inspired by how she serves the Black community. Since moving back to Oakland from Atlanta where she went to college, Iminah has been involved with speaking to at-risk youth, writing and recording an album, and dancing in everything from plays and dance shows to music videos.

Sistah Iminah
Sistah Iminah

Iminah is also scheduled to perform at this year’s Black Media Appreciation Night on Sept. 12 at 762 Fulton in Frisco. Check her out in this exclusive Q&A.

M.O.I. JR: What has inspired you to want to be a professional singer?

Sistah Iminah: Music has always been a vibrant force in my life. As a youth I was deeply affected by music and the lyrics within the music.

I realized that a lot of the messaging in the music I grew up listening to was very damaging to my psyche over the years. I realized that music has created much of our popular culture, especially in the Black community.

As I grew in my consciousness, I realized that I have a natural gift for singing, writing songs and dancing that can be a positive force in this world. This inspired me to become a professional musician.

M.O.I. JR: Who are some of your favorite musicians?

Sistah Iminah: Some of my favorite musicians include Bob Marley, Rita Marley, Peter Tosh, Judy Mowatt, the Congos, Mary J. Blige, Fela Kuti, Asabioje Afenapa, Ella Andall, Osunlade, Sade, Tupac, Lazaro Ross, Yondo Sister, Aaliyah, Barry White, Astarius Miraculii, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, Chaka Khan, Wizkid, Seun Kuti, Raphael Saadiq and D’Angelo, to name a few.

As I grew in my consciousness, I realized that I have a natural gift for singing, writing songs and dancing that can be a positive force in this world. This inspired me to become a professional musician.

M.O.I. JR: How would describe your sound for people who have never heard you?

Sistah Iminah: I would describe my sound as Born Again African Soul. It’s a mix of R & B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Afrobeat and Oakland Soul music.

I’ve been working with Jamaki “the Khemist” of Rally Up Music based in Oakland for my upcoming album, “From Ghetto to Goddess.” His sound as a producer encompasses all these genres, so it’s been a great fit.

M.O.I. JR: Out of all the types of music that you grew up on, what makes you want to make Afrobeat music?

Sistah Iminah: I grew up in an Afrocentric family, which was a major blessing for me. Unlike many of my peers, I was able to positively identify with African culture and history.

African spirituality infuses Sistah Iminah’s music.
African spirituality infuses Sistah Iminah’s music.

As I grew and developed on my life path, I became introduced to Afrobeat through Brother Tenisio Seanima in Atlanta. He introduced me to Sandra Izsadore, the mother of Afrobeat, and from there I had the opportunity to meet two of Fela Kuti’s sons, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti.

I began to research the music and legacy of Fela and also saw the Broadway Musical “Fela!” Shortly after this I was asked to take part in a historic concert featuring Dede Mabiaku, Fela’s protege and band member of Egypt 80. At this point I realized the power and potency of Afrobeat music. Fela always said music is the weapon of the future, so I decided to do what I can to be a force for good in this world.

M.O.I. JR: How have people responded to you?

Sistah Iminah: People have been pleasantly surprised as they are growing to understand my music and my overall brand. I’ve gotten a huge response from the African “immigrant” community, as many people are not used to a “Born-Again African” like me.

I love Africa, African people, African culture and African spirituality – all things that American culture somewhat considers taboo. So people are definitely taking notice and embracing what I represent.

I would describe my sound as Born Again African Soul. It’s a mix of R & B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Afrobeat and Oakland Soul music.

M.O.I. JR: Where are you performing in the near future?

Sistah Iminah: My next concert will be Friday, July 31, from 10 p.m.-2 a.m., at Miliki, 3725 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland. Miliki is a Nigerian Restaurant in East Oakland that brings a lot of African culture to Oakland. I will be performing with Nigerian saxophonist and guitarist Rotimi, aka Rotosax. It’s going to be live!

My next concert will be Friday, July 31, from 10 p.m.-2 a.m., at Miliki, 3725 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland.

M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us what you do with your Ghetto to Goddess brand?

Sistah Iminah: From Ghetto to Goddess is a movement, mission and vision. With this brand I have music, education in the realms of self-esteem building, cultural competency and nutritional education, a media platform and more. There are several things developing the #ghetto2Goddess brand and I’m very excited and thankful!

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

Sistah Iminah: Definitely visit my website, iminahlaura.com, like me on Facebook, “Sistah Iminah,” and follow me on instagram @iminahlaura. I will look forward to connecting with people as things develop and blossom. Give thanks!

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

23 COMMENTS

  1. While I was at school work seemed not a challenge to me since I was able to manage my time well which was a problem to many students. Time wasted will never be recovered was always my motto and so I ensured that not even a single minute got wasted .I was able to do all the required activities and my teachers kept congratulating me on the same.

  2. Time wasted will never be recovered was always my motto and so I ensured that not even a single minute got wasted .I was able to do all the required activities and my teachers kept congratulating me on the same.

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