Interview with Teri Tobin

On The Rise Editor Daood Obaid interviews with Arizona-born soulstress, songwriter, producer, and all around phenomenal woman Teri Tobin.  The interview begins…
 In so many words, describe your musical journey thus far?
ttobin_074E_credit_mike_quainMy musical journey began from the moment my mom played the first record or the first
song I heard on the radio. For as long as I can remember, music is has always been
the backdrop of every period in my life. There are many stories from various family
members of me singing ALL THE TIME. One of my grandmothers (my granddad’s
second wife) said she had me singing in front of the church at 6 months. My maternal
grandmother says she used to ask me if I ever stopped singing. The answer then is the
same now. No. I live and breathe music (even when I’m not aware of it). I got my first
professional gigs at 10, singing backgrounds for Jeffrey Osborne and Jon Anderson
from the rock group YES. After getting my first check…it was a wrap! To get to do
what I do naturally and LOVE to do….. AND get paid?
At the urging of my family, I went to college to study Music Education. When I could no
longer afford to attend, I left Howard University and entered into the world of
struggling full-time artist. Met some incredible people along the way, who encouraged
the need for me to write my own music. I later found my sound and soon had a
catalog, enough for a few albums. While waiting for a record executive to find value in
me as an “artist”, I pitched the majority of my first album to other artists. They all
“passed” on it. So I sat on the bulk of the album for 10 years, I guess waiting for my
time to be “pretty enough”, “skinny enough”, “less-matronly”, “light enough” and for
my voice to be “good enough”.
After getting laid-off of my 9 to 5 job, I decided to go back to school and release the
album just for the sake of “completion” I needed to close that chapter in order for the
next one to be revealed. I had no idea that my music would be so well received in
countries I never dreamed of. I had been discouraged for so long, I didn’t expect
anyone outside of my family to buy “Love Infinity”.
 With the birth of the album Love Infinity, followed up with So Good To Me, will the
third cd continue with gems like, “My Mind,” & “It’s Alright?”.
It’s funny because I didn’t have a blueprint preparing for the first two. So Good To Me
was based on the premise that I would only put songs that felt “good to me”….hence
the partial reason for the title. The 3rd cd actually has a concept that but I was
saddened recently to find that another artist has an upcoming album with a similar title.
Nonetheless, I will still use the same premise in song selection. The music has to feel
good to me. What I also find interesting is that on both previous albums, people had
their own personal favorites. My mid-west/Chicago steppers had their favorites. The
hopeless romantics had theirs and everyone else had theirs. But that’s what I love
about being an indie artist. I put out what is on my heart and for someone to relate to
it is truly a success to me.
 Reading your bio and I can speak for most in asking, the opportunity of singing with
the great Jeffrey Osborne came about as the result of?
I had auditioned for a children’s choir “Children of the World” where George Duke produced a children’s version of “We are the world” and the proceeds also going to charity. Within the group there were the 50 kids like me that were selected out of thousands plus child-stars. (i.e. Fergie, Alysa Milano, Rahsaan Patterson, Shanice Wilson, Kim Fields, Drew Barrymore, Glen Scarpelli, Alphonso Ribeiro….). My voice coach at the time, ended up getting the call for the need for a small children’s choir for Jeffrey’s song “Soweto”. It was the best experience to not only sing with Jeffrey and his background singers (one of which I reconnected with on Facebook last year) but to meet an artist that my mom had been playing in our home and for him to be the most gracious and encouraging person, was truly a blessing. I hope to one day get the opportunity to tell him that.
Yeah, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that all of the artists I listed as influences were ALL male. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of memories of singing Natalie Cole, Aretha and other female songs, but when I think of the songs that began the soundtrack of my life, it is the songs by men that seems to stick out.
Prince is a genre all to himself! I was drawn to Prince the very first time I heard him on the radio, although I remember being shocked when my mom told me it was a guy singing “I wanna be your lover”. His range is unmatched and his creativity was so mind-blowing to me. Oh, I forgot to mention that I thought he was so FINE, too. It took a while to find a poster of him that I “could” put on my wall. Then Purple Rain came out. My mom wouldn’t let me see the movie because it was rated R, but I did manage to get the 12in of “Erotic City”. Go figure. As I got older and was able to look passed his looks, focus on his rich-deep-speaking-voice, appreciate the lyrics in songs like “Adore” and realize he was and is a genius.
 Back to reading your bio and there is a number of male singers as your influences
with one male singer being Prince?
Yeah, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that all of the artists I listed as influences were ALL male. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of memories of singing Natalie Cole, Aretha and other female songs, but when I think of the songs that began the soundtrack of my life, it is the songs by men that seems to stick out.
Prince is a genre all to himself! I was drawn to Prince the very first time I heard him on the radio, although I remember being shocked when my mom told me it was a guy singing “I wanna be your lover”. His range is unmatched and his creativity was so mind-blowing to me. Oh, I forgot to mention that I thought he was so FINE, too. It took a while to find a poster of him that I “could” put on my wall. Then Purple Rain came out. My mom wouldn’t let me see the movie because it was rated R, but I did manage to get the 12in of “Erotic City”. Go figure. As I got older and was able to look passed his looks, focus on his rich-deep-speaking-voice, appreciate the lyrics in songs like “Adore” and realize he was and is a genius.
 As a vocal expressionist is there still area’s within singing that you feel is room for
improvement?
Absolutely. In everything I do, I want to be able to show growth even if it’s not
blatantly apparent to others. That’s what I strive for. Not only that. I am my worst
critic so even now, I have a hard time listening to my previous albums without
critiquing the vocals, the lyrics or the mix. My manager has had to put their foot down
and tell me to back away from it and just “release it already!”.
 Are there any particular songs that fans request that you sing during your
performances?
“Free” has been a fan favorite, I guess because that is how most of them came to know who I am. Also from Love Infinity, “I’m in Love”, “Can I get that” and “Feels so Good”. On the cd So Good To Me, “It’s Alright”, “Say Oooh” and “Love’s Gotta Hold On Me” are the ones most requested.
 Communicate to us the direction in which the music industry should take in relationship to music artists?
I feel that the direction the music industry should take is to “ACKNOWLEDGE US”.
Acknowledge the music and artists that aren’t getting played on terrestrial radio. The
current state of how my music and so many others in the indie game, is perceived as
nonexistent and has no value. In some cases it could just be that folks haven’t be
exposed to music outside of the 6 songs that get rotated every hour on “corporate”
radio. It would be a huge undertaking, but if they would take a step out of the norm
and introduce a song/artist to the masses (like it used to be) and taking in pride in
being the first one to “break” that artist.
 Tell the world why Teri Tobin will always be remembered as a great artist?
Wow. I don’t know that I’ll be remembered as a great artist but, I pray that I’m thought
of as an artist that ‘left it all on the stage” and that it showed that I love what I do. If I
was able to touch people with the heart that I put into my music, then I will feel my
work here is done.

 

Daood Obaid Aka Soul Detective
obaid93070@aol.com

Sōl 2 Kēp Entertainment
It’s > than music….it’s a movement

Teri Tobin, “So Good To Me”
Teri Tobin, ” Christmas Child”
Teri Tobin, “Love Infinity”
Available Now at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/TeriTobin

http://www.ourstage.com/epk/teritobin

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