Waking up everyday to the beautiful sounds of piano chords playing classical tunes has to be equivalent to heaven on earth, especially for music lovers. That’s exactly what life was like for ABIAH whose mother was a pianist. This exposure only means ABIAH’s mother was essentially his first music teacher. His sisters, who were singers, were also early influencers. Coupling these daily lessons with his innate musicianship, ABIAH developed his virtuosity. And, his sound is captivating.
Who is ABIAH?
I was born and raised in the States. My dad is from Ghana, West Africa, and my mom is a Cuban Black American. I grew up primarily with my mother and my experience with her was in upstate New York.
What role does music play in your life?
It’s about creating an awareness, changing lives and is a place to find refuge. Music has the ability to captivate people and help them have an awareness. I think Bob Marley was a great example of that and we just celebrated his 70th birthday. It has many platforms.
Describe yourself as an artist.
An artist’s job is to make the art and let people walk away with what ever they want to walk away with. My music is an amalgamation of my experiences. I grew up in the church and then became a classical musician. I studied opera in college in both undergrad and in graduate school. I sang with an opera house after school, so I have that aspect of music. It’s like chamber music. There is a soulfulness to my music. There is a jazz aspect to my music. There is a folk element to my music. I find it hard to categorize it myself. I just want to make the art and be true to the artist that I am. The great thing about an artist is if the conviction is right, then the integrity will be there and you will have that artist experience. I leave it up to you and the listener to make up their mind on what the music is.
What advice can you offer an artist whose integrity is on the line and favors celebrity?
As an artist, you have to stick to who you are. Some artists have to be made and then there are artists who just are. The struggle is important. Because you learn lessons in the struggle and in that is the success. I think that you have to learn how to embrace the struggle and embrace the process. I am super optimistic about everything and believe in God and believe that he has given us all a purpose. I think there was a reason that as a young boy I was infatuated with language. I speak five languages. Why? Because God placed a seed in me for this international life that I am now living.
How has life been as an international recording artist?
It’s been great. I distributed my second album, Life As A Ballad, independently. Labels around the world started coming on and saying where have you been? That was after a six-year hiatus of not recording or releasing records. Seeing that kind of success was really encouraging. That record really represented me starting to trust myself. I made decisions I wanted to make and do things on my terms. So ambition without vision is like a boat on dry land. Right, it just doesn’t move. It’s like you either like what I am or you don’t like it. I think a lot of people struggle with that because you want to be accepted. But I think you get accepted when you accept yourself. I really worked hard on that last album to make sure the next reintroduction of ABIAH was really just that.
The video “Goodbye” features my wife. She’s lip synching the lyrics because I wanted the story told through another person’s eyes and life. That was revolutionary. It showed I was very clear about what I wanted. Now is a good time to return to the states and reintroduce my sound because people are more open. The borders are opening as labels figure things out. YouTube brings instant fame as does “American Idol.” You see these people blow up very fast and they go away just as fast. Why? Because they haven’t done the necessary ground work. I think we are in a microwave society.
I’m mixing a new record for my new album, Bottles. I was in the studio and the guy that mixed my last album is mixing this album and he said, “You know what ABIAH? The one thing that great about this record is I hear no question marks.” I think that that’s a pretty massive statement from an engineer because they hear everything. He’s been a part of this journey. My last album was almost three years ago. So Bottles is coming up and I’m getting even more clear and I have a confidence that I have never had because what happened with Life As A Ballad reminded me to stay your course. Everybody has their lane. There is room for everyone.
Name your top five.
Definitely Anita Baker, she is the reason I became a singer. Nina Simone. Rachelle Ferrell. Oleta Adams. Sarah Vaughan. Those are my five favorite singers and my biggest influences in my career as an artist.
If you could pose one question to the community what would it be?
I have to speak from my perspective because that’s the world I live in. I think as a community we need to be better about supporting our own. I think that other communities support their artists all the time. There is a reason. I will go back to country music because I see it all the time. These artists are living the lives they want to live because the community is behind them a thousand percent and we don’t have that. We are very fickle and we just jump around … there are just as many artists in country music as there are any other type of music but I think we are just looking for the next thing. I think we really need to be careful about supporting our own. I would ask our community to do that.