On our way to Charlotte on February 28, 2016 the only thing we had in our minds was to prepare to have our feelings dissected from our soul and politely sprinkled across the floor in lieu of the super group KING's performance. As we prepared we saw a 6 piece band set up on the stage, who go by the name Queens Guard (more on that to come), and a fiercely dressed dreaded woman stepping to the mic with a voice prepared to bring the entire auditorium to Church! CHURCH! We all missed it that day but Blanche came through with sultry neo-funk and I literally came out of my seat and shouted at her as she did a slowed rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Always". We got to catch up with Blanche and get more into her artistry. So, without further adieu, we introduce Blanche J.
Who is Blanche and what is her contribution to music?
Blanche is a true lover of music! It surrounds my entire life and I’m lost without it! But at the end of the day, Blanche is a cool, laid back, fun-loving person. I’m definitely a people person. I know no stranger. My contribution to music is to learn as much as I possibly can and create my own interpretation of the music, no matter the genre. I just want to put my own spin on things and make people see music in a new or different light. Overall, I want to be inspiring and I always try to give 110% during my performances, so that my audience can feel my passion. I want to be a believable artist, making music look like a way of life and not just a performance.
When did you know singing was your calling?
I come from a family of singers and musicians, so I’ve always been surrounded by music. I started singing when I was 3 and I just never stopped. Music became real for me at the age of 14, when I was involved in a car accident. The accident left me bedridden and I had to learn to walk again. Music was the only thing that brought me comfort through my healing process. When I was in pain, I would sing to myself or my family would sing to me to lift my spirits. Since music was such a vital part of my healing, I knew it was something that I always wanted to be a part of me.
What was/is your biggest obstacle to overcome in your craft? How did you or how do you plan to overcome it?
Changing my lifestyle for the sake of the music has been my biggest obstacle. I’m a foodie at heart. I love to eat!! As a singer, I have to avoid dairy, soda, drink more water. I have definitely struggled with it, but I want to always make sure that I am in good voice and unrestricted vocally. Being hoarse has been an issue for me. So I’m in the process of learning what works to take better care of my body to be able to give my all on the stage.
You're in the middle of a sing off and you can only choose one? Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, or Chrisette Michele. Who do you go for and why?
I love all 3, but Lalah Hathaway is my ultimate favorite vocalist!! She’s AMAZING!! She’s a contralto, like me, so she’s relatable for me. People don’t really expect female singers to be able to sing in their lower register and do it so well. Lalah has definitely mastered that. She also seems so free when she’s performing, like she’s having so much fun doing what she loves.
Given the times, do you feel a certain responsibility to have a message in your art?
Absolutely! God is the source of my strength and the strength of my life. God is Love and that’s the message I always want to send to my audience.
Did you ever have a period of time where you almost gave up on your dreams? What would you tell those in that position now?
I can’t say that I’ve ever wanted to give up. I believe in my heart that music is what I’ve been called to do. I do have moments of frustration, but music saved my life. It’s never given up on me. For anyone in that position, I would say to remind yourself why you started doing music in the first place. Make sure that you are aware of your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s always someone ready, willing, and able to help. But you won’t know unless you ask. Ultimately, just make sure that you always do it for the love of the music.
Photos by: Shamon Scull