Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
By Chantae Benson
You have an extensive biography having shared the stage with notable groups such as The Roots and Black Eyes Peas. You’ve been in your own group and released an album. With all this experience under your belt, what made you want to audition for the show?
Being that as it is, things look a lot better on paper. I wanted for people in the world to get a chance to see my style. With Missy there are a lot of eclectic things between her and her music and she brings a lot of world music into her music.
Every aspect of the show focused on being tested and stepping outside your comfort zone. What was the most difficult part of being on the show?
For me I just felt that there was nothing I could do that was right. I felt like if I used my guitar it was seen as a crutch…I tried to play the best that I could. I tried to show all my different aspects.
What was your expectation of the show? Did the show meet your expectation or disappoint you in any way?
I felt as though some of the judgment calls were a little bogus on the show. When they put me and Eddie in the spotlight, I thought it was bogus. The whole show was psychologically quite draining. The performance challenges were done as a surprise. They take us away and you think you are being interviewed and your put into a challenge. A lot of times I was very much discouraged from using my guitar on the show. I felt as though maybe it would have gone a little differently if I had a little more freedom to present it.
In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently during the competition?
I might have represented myself a little stronger at the end and downed the compliments.
During the last show Missy said you allow others to take your spotlight and although talented you lacked a “breakout quality”. What do you think about her assessment of you as a performer?
I think largely what she said is true the way the show turned out but not in reality. When I was in the spotlight with Eddie I kind of lost a lot of hope because I felt I was doing everything I can. When it comes to performing I think I made it count. I put out something that is not only exciting but unheard of. At times I think I was thinking about the music more than the competition.
How have you grown through this experience?
I really started to reevaluate my live stage show. I’ve been practicing my singing a lot more. While I was on the show I felt they were pushing me to be a stronger singer… I’ve learned to be aggressive in trying to get what you want.
During the last show everyone except you kept on outfits that went against their character. Why was it important for you to remain true to yourself?
They weren’t fooling me with that, I just thought that was silly. It may have looked good for an Eminem video, but it was not my style.
During the two times that you were in the spotlight you humble declined to comment on why other contestants should be eliminated. Why did you feel it was important not to focus on critiquing the other contestants?
I’ve never went to a job interview where they ask you to dis the other people to apply for the job. I just feel I should be judged on my merits and not on my ability to insult other people.
You work as a teacher. What do you hope your students will learn by seeing you on the show?
I try to be a positive role model to my kids because I know they are watching it.
What are your future plans?
I have a couple of dates where I will be playing in Memphis. I have been getting a lot of love in Canada. I will be touring in Canada and Europe and getting into doing acting.
Thank you for a great interview and good luck with your tours and future endeavors.
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