Demetria McKinney talks about what fans can expect from her latest album, Officially Yours, and whose music she keeps on repeat.
Has music always been a goal of yours is it something relatively new you recently discovered in yourself?
Music has been forever with me. It’s been my refuge and my boyfriend before I ever had one. It was that place that I went to in order to be really be me when I couldn’t express it to anyone else. And the person who pioneered that for me was Whitney Houston. The very first time I heard “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or “Greatest Love Of All” I was completely sold. This woman was beautiful, she told stories, and made noises that explained me so very well and it made me want to be a part of that for somebody else out there.
Were there any other musical influences?
Whitney. Whitney. Whitney. But there are others. Whitney is like 75 percent of it for me. It starts with Whitney but I also love Aaliyah. I thinks she was phenomenal in knowing who she was and what lane she wanted to be in. I loved her cool sexy swag. I love Mary J. Blige. You feel what she’s giving you every single time. I’m a fan of Celine Dion. I listen to Pink. I really listen to all types of music but those are my top people there.
Name a song that you absolutely love that you wish you had written?
“Greatest Love of All.” The way that the song is structured is just so … .oooh. I’m a content person. Yes, the beat will catch you, but the content is what keeps me. So for “Greatest Love” what it’s saying is everlasting. It’s so inspirational. It’s so fulfilling, and it’s beautiful all wrapped into one. I love, love, love that song and it will always be a staple and go-to song for me.
Would you ever remake it?
I have. Each year since her passing I’ve done a tribute to Whitney Houston on my YouTube page. And it’s not to get any shine or attention or anything. I genuninely am a fan and love her artistry.
What are your five favorite Whitney songs?
“Greatest Love of All,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “You Give Good Love,” “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing.” I really love everything she’s done, but the songs that have resonated with me the most and touched me at different phases of my life are those.
What can fans expect from your forthcoming album, Officially Yours?
They can expect me to be as naked as I can be with clothes on. As an artist you want to pour your soul into whatever you’re doing and as an actress I’ve been able to pour Janine’s soul out or who ever I’ve played in my career. So I’ve been able to tell their story. Officially Yours is about me telling my story as a single mom, as a woman, as somebody who’s still sensual, as somebody who’s still vulnerable. So they’re gonna get every piece of me and hopefully it’ll make them see some of the beauty in themselves.
Who did you work with on the album?
I’ve worked with so many different people. This album is actually five years in the making. So in that process I’ve worked with Bangladesh, Anthony David, Musiq Soulchild, Da Brat, Lyfe Jennings, and Kandi Burruss, who’s actually the executive producer of the album. But with the various collaborations I have, with this particular album, when it got down to what was going to be on here I was really really particular about making sure that it was mostly my voice. I want people to get a chance to know who I am and for it not be cliché. No shade to anybody else but if you buy it, it’s because you relate, it’s because you understand me and you understand something about yourself in there.
Did you do any of the writing on the album?
I did do some writing but I am looking for hits regardless of whether they are penned by me or not. One of the reasons Kandi is executive producer is because she completely understood me. She and The Kandi Factory have truly perfected the art of making hits. But what they do is actually sit down and talk to the artist. Even when they couldn’t get to me they were on the phone asking questions, asking about content. It was a very very involved situation. And she took what I told her and made it beautiful.
Do you have a release date for Officially Yours?
Right now we’re eyeing early spring. Maybe February or March but the new single, “Unnecessary Trouble” will be out in November.
You’ve acted in various mediums from film to television to theater. Is there any comparision in the immediate feedback you get from the audience in theater and the audience when performing your music?
Much like theater, when performing music in front of an audience you get an immediate response. You immediately get to see what works and what doesn’t and the next night you get to go back and try again. The other thing is if you mess up you’ve got to own that thang and figure it out. There’s no do-over, no stand-in, no cut. You have to be on. So if your skirt is tucked into your drawers you better make it look like that was intentional. The biggest thing for me though is I think theater is to acting what Latin is to language. It is the complete foundation of everything else. That’s why you have the Denzel Washington’s and Robert De Niro’s who still come back to theater and back to Broadway to hone in and touch up and revise their skills. It’s really on the job training for everything else.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring artists and entertainers?
Please make sure you know yourself. If you don’t know yourself people will turn you into who you don’t want to be. Everyone loves to project their illnesses, their bad moments, their bad habits onto you, and if you accept that because you’re that eager to get on and end up losing yourself in the end, then everyone loses. And you’ll get so much further being yourself. You can only pretend to be someone else for so long. I think if I had taken the time to know who I was, especially as a vocalist, I may have gotten a lot further. When I first got with Tyler Perry, he loved my voice and then I met Tamela Mann. Then I met Terrell Carter. Then I met Nicci Gilbert. And they were all doing their squalling thing. Then I went out there and tried to do it and failed. That’s not my tea. That’s not my lane and I just hadn’t taken the time to really know MY voice. Now that I know it and thankfully God has his own timing I’m able to do what I do. I know who I am and I think that’s why everything is working and coming together the way that it is.
Any other projects in the works that we should be looking out for?
I just filmed a pilot with Essence Aikens, Vivica A. Fox, Tony Rock, Carl Payne, and Lamman Rucker. It’s a grown and sexy comedy, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. BET just announced that they are going to be bring “House of Payne” to the network so that’s on the horizon again. Sons 2 The Grave is a movie directed by Mykelti Williams that stars myself, Darrin Henson, and Atlantic recording artist Trevor Jackson. It’s based on a true story and deals with things going on in our inner-cities right now. It really makes us take a look and fix the problem from within instead of always reaching out and hoping that somebody catches on. Oh and (Real) Housewives (of Atlanta). Let me tell you something…that was an experience and a growth cycle for me with season seven. With Kandi being the executive producer of my album and being such an intregal part of that, I am a little bit affiliated with that. I have been taping. Now what makes it to air and what doesn’t I have no idea but I have been doing some taping of that as well. More touring with R. Kelly. Touring with the Pepsi Funk Fest. And also doing some spot dates with Tank in the coming days.
For more information on Demetria McKinney, please visit www.demetriamckinney.com
Instagram – @Demetria4real
Twitter – @DemiMcKinney