“Never Compromise Your Morals or Your Heart”



Age: 23
Occupation: Singer and Guitarist from the band SolStar
Hometown: Washington, DC


When did your love for music begin?

Florida Avenue Grill in DC was really live in the 70s. It still is really popular but not to the extent it was back then. There was a lot of live music and there isn’t much there anymore. Anyway, my mother used to sing at Florida Avenue Grill and a lot of other hot spots in DC. She also sings opera and has studied music theory. Fred Foss (jazz aficionado in DC) told me not many people can sing classical and jazz but my mother can and has a beautiful voice doing both. I love it. Growing up in Mama Rose’s house I heard a lot of jazz and tons of classical music. She sings in the Aria Club of Greater Washington and sings for several churches. She taught me piano at a young age. Later, I took up flute and played in the DC Youth Orchestra, and finally in high school I picked up guitar. So when I talk about my love for music it certainly starts with her and encompasses all of those musical experiences I had growing up. I have three older sisters and a brother who are musically inclined as well so I have those influences too. One of my sister’s brought home this world beat CD when I was 8 or 9 and it was the first time I’d heard bossa nova. I think that’s my favorite genre. I’d like to incorporate more of that style in our music.


When did you learn to play the guitar?

When I was 15…sophomore in high school, I saw the classical guitar lying underneath the piano. I begged my mother for lessons. I took lessons for about 1 or 2 months—enough to learn names of strings and basic chords. I started coming to lessons with songs and chords my teacher hadn’t shown me yet-he was shocked. I had always written poetry and lyrics but once I found out about chords—I really dove into songwriting. However, I wish I had stuck with his guitar lessons.


Zayani3Can you tell me about your band?

I met Mosi (violin), Prince (Bass), and Osim (Djembe) at a show at Spelman that I was helping host for student council. They were already a group and had recently chosen the name SolStar. The show we were putting together was called “A love Story” and they were the featured band. They did a beautiful job. Afterward we exchanged contact and linked up to practice. That first night of rehearsal was magic. We started performing around ATL. Our first show together was at the Five Spot. Later on we met Miso (performing artist) who began as our manager but later found a better fit in the group participating in the show doing dance, painting, and crowd interaction. We are a pretty unique band with a mission to spread love and raise the frequency. Our goal at our shows is to invite you into an experience.


What goes into starting and maintaining a band?

I remember posting on craigslist about starting a band–looking for dj, keys, drums, just whatever! Made a few contacts but nothingZayani2 came of it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look for long. SolStar showed up and showed out at Spelman, and we were able to connect afterward. It was easy with them because it seems that we just came together naturally. There are mutual interests and there’s respect in the group so it’s easier to work together. Maintaining a band is like any other relationship where honesty, respect, compassion, and other virtues are important. It can be hard but it’s very rewarding.


Who are some of your favorite artists?

My favorite musicians/artists right now are Thundercat, Janelle Monae, and Robert Glasper, Mosi, Kendrick, Chance the Rapper and Solstar. –My most recent albums I’ve purchased and listen to are from Eric Wright, Elle Varner, India Shawn, Marian Mereba, Brik Liam …  Of all time — Lauryn Hill, Sly and the Family Stone, MJ, John Mayer, Hendrix, John Scofield, Debussy, Pac and Nas.


Advice for other girls trying to get into music?

My advice for girls getting into music is respect yourself and your craft. Don’t compromise your morals and your heart to further you in your career. Accept constructive criticism and don’t forget to have fun.


Zayani5Where do you want to be in the future?

Musically, I see myself a more skilled musician, doing large shows with SolStar globally, and completing awesome albums!
From Zayani:

Hi readers! I hope you get a chance to check out our band’s music! You can find us at solstarmusic.com, solstarmusic on the gram, twitter, and like us on Facebook!

You can tweet me @zayanirose. I’m on insta @zuniverse_xo.

For booking, email info@solstarmusic.com

Going Against the Status Quo

ChenaChena 1

Age: 20
Occupation: Intern at Outerloop Management
Hometown: Beltsville, MD

Describe your love of music:

I’m very reserved, I think so much and deeply about things and I’m an indoor cat, not an outdoor one. Music has always been how I express how i feel and has been

there for me when no one else has.

When did you learn to play guitar?

I picked up the guitar at 14. I used to want to be a singer and felt that I’ll be more interesting if I played an instrument. So one morning I woke up and decided to learn guitar, so I went to the library and got books about it that same day. I always respected people who knew how to play an instrument well because they worked hard at it. To me, you aren’t very talented in music if you can’t understand it in the most organic way or you haven’t taken any time to make it for yourself…without the help of a computer, effects, etc.

Can you tell me about your internships in the music

Chena with Killswitch

Chena with Killswitch Engage


It’s important to get in touch with the right people if you are into music. I had a friend who interned at the Fillmore and she recommended I get in touch with the manager’s assistant. It’s fun, especially if you go to a lot of shows like I do. They can be a money pit. But if you are on the inside, your contributions are compensated with a free entry. Currently I’m at Outerloop Management, where we manage pretty successful metal/rock bands such as Periphery, Darkest Hour, Dying Fetus, Crown the Empire, WCAR. Both internships have to do with marketing 70% of the time and the rest is administrative stuff, making sure the bands have what they need to get on the road and keeping track of expenses. Requirements for jobs like that is to just be passionate about music and be willing to learn. Also a business background/knowledge is great.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

My favorite music is metal, fusion jazz, finger style acoustic and classic rock. Some of my favorite artists are Into

Chena with Chuck Billy

Chena with Chuck Billy

Eternity, Carach Angren, Guthrie Gowan, Greg Howe, Paul Gilbert, Anathema, Carcass, Alter Bridge and Killswitch Engage. My favorite artist of all time would be Stevie Ray Vaughan because I credit him for teaching me how to play guitar just by listening and mimicking what he did. Currently, I can’t get enough of the incredible Andy James.

Advice for other girls wanting to get into music?

Don’t worry about trying to fit in, go out there and explore with an open mind about all types of music. Not the type society says black people are supposed to like. Especially for us ethnic girls, don’t let anyone tell you whats “ok” for you to do. Going against the status quo is powerful, and having your own opinions is empowering. It’s surprising to people that I’m a black girl who’s passionate about heavy music and shreds on guitar. I’ve made friends with very important people in the community because being different is interesting. So go pick up and instrument that’s for “the boys” and become really good at it.

Chena with Jeff Loomis

Chena with Jeff Loomis

Where do you want to be in the future?

Well I love playing guitar because it makes me happy, so whatever I am doing in life (even if its a normal person job) I still want to be playing in a band and be involved with the metal/fusion jazz community. In a perfect world, I would have gone to Berklee or Musicians Institute, but my parents are African…no way that could work out. But I still want to work towards my rock star dreams and hope I can do that full time some day.


Want to see more of Chena? Follow her on instagram @chena_roxx or email her at chena716@gmail.com


Black Musicians!

Hello FYM Project Readers!

Remember art appreciation month? Well, I really liked finding and showcasing the different talents, so I decided to dedicate a whole month to one form of artistic expression and this month is MUSIC!

music monthMany say music is a universal language, it connects people. Despite language, class, race or space; music brings people together and influences the masses. My favorite thing is that music is like an infinite treasure chest. There is always something new to discover or old to find. Some of my best moments were through music: Getting a standing ovation at my piano recital in the 3rd grade. Singing with my middle school choir. Driving in the summer time, with my new license, windows down and “It’s Love” by Jill Scott blaring through the speakers!

And for many of us, along with the songs we adore, we admire musicians as well. Whether its their style or their spirit, female musicians stand as role models for generations. Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Tina Turner,  Anita Baker, Sade, Whitney Houston, En Vogue, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, India Airie, Janelle Monae, Emeli Sande, Esperanza Spalding and countless others

…all artists that have reached timelessness and have changed the way black women are perceived and how they perceived themselves. Music is an iconic part of our culture that shapes society. It enables everyone to create their own soundtrack for their life. No matter what, there is always a song to fit the mood. Therefore, this month is dedicated to celebrating and appreciating female musicians. For those who play, those who sing and those who just love to listen.

The Power of Music


Age: 20

Occupation: Student- Junior

Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD


What is your favorite form of artistic expression?

My favorite form of artistic expression is music. I am a singer!!!! I sing just about every genre except for country and electronic. Music education is my major here at University of Maryland. My mother says I have been singing since before I could talk. There are many picture of me as a baby holding a mic and singing in my diapers. I loved everything about singing, just because it is an art form that involves the whole body. Although music is something we listen to, it is also something we watch and feel. Going to a concert we don’t want to just hear great music we want to see the artist having fun expressing every word of every song. So I guess I am in love with performing as well as music.

lynique1What are the hardest and best parts of how you express your art?

One of the best things about singing is that I can do it wherever I am because I carry my instrument with me. I am my instrument. The frustrating thing about that is if I am sick I cannot actually sing because my body is too weak to even begin to think about singing. Also, when I am learning a classical piece sometimes it is frustrating because I have to actually spend time learning the notes and rhythms to even begin making music. On the other hand it is a way to perfect the craft of music reading. A way for me to work on perfecting my ear is to listen to music of the Gospel or R&B genre and break apart harmonies. I love breaking harmonies and hearing them together it is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.

What inspires you when it comes to your art?

I feel inspired knowing that someone can be feeling down and they can listen to me sing and that immediately turns their mood around. The power of music is often overlooked. Music is a powerful experience for the performer and the audience. The thoughts that race through the mind during a performance cannot be explained. The emotion that the audience and performer feel cannot be explained. It is an extremely intimate experience but one that can impact life forever. It sounds cheesy I know but there is no other way to describe it.

What do you hope to do with your art in the future?

My plan is to become a music educator. I want to have some sort of impact on students lives. People say it all the time, “Children are the future!” It is a true statement and it actually inspires me. I believe that if the next generations could be inspired the way I was in elementary school then they have a chance to do something greater than the generation before.

Want to hear Lynique sing? Check out her youtube page!