Today’s feature spotlight is a woman who caught my eye the moment I saw her picture and who is also my Woman Crush for Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) because I just love her head wraps. Oh and did I mention that she sings too? Read on to know more about this diva.
THJ: Hi Michele…Thank you for doing this interview with ‘The Hotjem’ Fashion Blog. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Micheline: Micheline Ewang is a new comer to the African vocal divas scene. I’m a born and raised Cameroonian, Songwriter and Singer now based in Washington DC.
THJ: How and why did you get into music (what inspired you to do so) and do you play a musical instrument?
Micheline: I grew up around music… from my grandmother who is a great traditional songwriter and singer, to my mother who is singer and songwriter, my late uncles who were drummers and singers and brothers who today are professional singers. In fact music it’s a family disease lol. Every movement around me is an inspiration. I can play around instruments like the guitar, drums, piano, but actually I’m taking professional guitar and piano classes.
THJ: On your official website, your music is described as “… a subtle blend of African roots, jazz and gospel, along with the modern feeling of acoustic soul music.” What inspired your music style to have such a wide range of different genres of music?
Micheline: A mixture of different stages of my life. As a little girl, I spent most of my vacations around my grandmother in the village; enjoying the sound of drums, the noise of birds, learning the Oroko songs. At home in town, my father always played blues and jazz music. As a teenager I became fan of Henri Dikongue with whom I did the song ‘Street Dancer’, then as an adult I had the chance to be coached by my little sister Nikol Ewang. I didn’t want to be a traditional singer. I wanted my music to be open to the world for everybody to find himself in a song.
THJ: Your first Album ‘Dissongo’ was released in March 2014. What does ‘Dissongo’ mean and how did its meaning influence the making of this album?
Micheline: ‘Dissongo’ is the name of an Oroko rhythm. It’s a peaceful and beautiful dance. Music has been my passion and my therapy. With Dissongo I was making peace not only with myself but with the world.
THJ: I really enjoyed listening to all the songs on your album ‘Dissongo’. My top three favorite songs are ‘Dissongo’, ‘Le Petit Matin’ and ‘Taboo Love’. What are your top three favorite songs on this album and why?
Micheline: For me every song has a particular meaning, so they are all favorite lol. ‘Ikpore’ is a key for freedom; in ‘Bana Oroko’ I’m calling on all Africans, mostly the Oroko children, not to forget where we are coming from; in ‘Iya’ , I’m saying thanks to the moms for what they have gone through to bring us up.
THJ: You could feel the deep underlying message of those songs which is why I think I related to them so easily even though I didn’t understand the language!
Now for the other fun part… We are now going to talk about your style which is my favorite part of this interview. Many Musicians tend to use their style in combination with their music as a way to express themselves and to create their identity and signature look. As a musician how would you describe your general fashion style both on stage and off stage and does your type of music influence this?
Micheline: It is a blend of African style and Western style – just like my music!
THJ: One of the things that immediately caught my eye and stood out about your style was your signature statement – The Head wraps (that is what I call them). You look absolutely beautiful wearing them. Is that correct name ‘Head wraps’ or is there an official word to call them and who ties them up for you?
Micheline: Thank you… I tie it myself and yes it’s called Head wraps.
THJ: What inspired you to incorporate head wraps into your style and does it have a meaning to you in terms of a message you might be sending when you wear it?
Micheline: It represents my Africanism. African women have been wearing it for centuries.
THJ: On any given day, what 3 beauty items can we find in your handbag that you cannot live without?
Micheline: Lipstick, Spray, Face powder.
THJ: Name a female African musician whose fashion style you admire? Micheline: Steps of the great Miriam Makeba, Sally Nyolo and Erykah Badu.
THJ: If given an opportunity, name one artiste you would love to either do a duet with or to perform on stage with and why?
Micheline: Before it was Henri Dikongue. Thank God I had the chance to do it. Richard Bona will be the perfect choice.
THJ: There are many up and coming female artistes in the music industry in Cameroon right now. One of them notably is Daphne Njie who whose newly released ‘Reflections EP’ is creating a lot of buzz on social media especially among Cameroonians worldwide and she seems to be having very good reviews. What advice would you give to Daphne or any new Cameroonian artiste that you would have wanted for someone else to have told you when you started in the music industry?
Micheline: Daphne is good in what she does and I like her genre of music. I would say to Daphne that only hard work and focus will take us to the real destination!
THJ: What advice would you give the younger Cameroonian generation or any Cameroonian who wants to start off a career in music given that there is very little emphasis and encouragement on promoting music and artistic talents as a career in Cameroon?
Micheline: One of the first things to do is to define the kind of music that you want to do which is gonna be your signature. Practice a lot and network with other artists in the music industry.
THJ: What would you say is the most difficult part of being an African musician-specifically a Cameroonian musician with respect to promoting your music and getting exposure, if any?
Micheline: Having access to the world music industry, especially promoters. This also can be made easier if young African artistes endeavor to meet with the quality standards of production.
THJ: What can your fans expect from Micheline in 2015? Any performances or concerts scheduled and what excites you more – performing on stage or working in a studio?
Micheline: Thank God for 2014 because I had great performances such as; The Martin Luther King anniversary event at Strathmore Bethesda on January 19th, three performances with art Soiree Partners with Alliance Francaise in DC, two performances at Montgomery College for the African Month, one performance in DC for the Cameroonian and American Youth Day, Concert for Ebola Relief at Fillmore, had a show with Henri Dikongue and symphony orchestra at the Hilton Yaounde Cameroon.
For 2015 I had already done some shows. I started with my selection to perform at the Strathmore Hall. I will be in Berlin on May 3rd in Germany on May 30th at Essen. I just met a new music promoter and she is working on getting some dates in DC so my fans stay tune… I love you and I’m grateful for your support. I love to perform on stage and enjoy the interaction during that special moment.
THJ: Thank you very much for doing this interview. I am sure you will rock those concerts and shows you have planned out for 2015. I also hope to see more pictures in your signature Head Wraps and I’m sure many would agree with me!