The multiple Grammy nominee explains why her songs are so intensely personal and performs the single, “Run,” from her sophomore solo CD, “Friends & Lovers.”
Singer-songwriter Marsha Ambrosius
Tavis: Marsha Ambrosius earned five of her seven Grammy nominations as one-half of the duo, Floetry, but it’s as a solo artist that she’s now garnering some of her best reviews in her career. Her latest CD out just now in fact is titled “Friends & Lovers” and it is intensely personal in this lyrical content.
I guess that follows the path she forged for her first solo CD, “Late Nights & Early Mornings” and I am honored always to have her on this program. I’m especially pleased tonight that she will close the show by performing a cut from the new CD titled “Run.” Marsha, glad to have you back.
Marsha Ambrosius: Thank you for having me again.
Tavis: I just let the cat out of the bag for those who haven’t heard it yet [laugh]. This is intensely – I couldn’t say the word – personal…
Ambrosius: It is.
Tavis: Which is, again, a continuation of what you kind of, you know, led us to expect on the last project…
Ambrosius: Yeah. You know…
Tavis: Why are you so personal in your writing?
Ambrosius: For me, I have to be. You know, it’s the real moments that get lost and missed in music of late. This is why my parents will instill that good, good, that real music. You know, they’re like, “You don’t know nothing. You’re just a kid” and then I get it now ’cause it was all personal experience.
You know, you could smell and taste music back in the day. So for me, it was late nights and early mornings that resulted in me meeting some friends, some lovers [laugh] and I talked about them on one album [laugh]. I really did.
Tavis: And what did they have to say that you can share on national television?
Ambrosius: That I can share on national television?
Tavis: On national television, yeah.
Ambrosius: It’s all true, so it’s all good [laugh].
Tavis: That’s the best way. For you, how do you still yourself – since you went there, let me follow you. How do you still yourself in truth to write and perform in a way that what comes from your heart reaches the heart of your fans and your listeners?
Ambrosius: Knowing that, in that moment, it’s not just about me. You know, I feel like many people feel lost in this world or alone by themselves and their failings and emotions, and I really believe that music is that escape. It’s that universal language that binds us all, crosses language barriers. We could speak two different languages, but you put a song on, we’ll know the emotion behind it.
So when I’m creating this maybe music anymore, creating these emotions and these moments, I’m speaking on behalf of those that have ever broken a heart, ever broke themselves. And when it uplifts and, you know, escapes for a minute, that’s what I can do during the music.
Tavis: It’s always amazing to me – and I’m not naïve about this, obviously. That’s why I love artist so much and love having them on this program.
I’m always so amazed at how you can sit in your own private space and write something, go into a studio and perform something, that is ostensibly about your own life’s journey, and you put it out there and everybody can relate to it. It just goes to show again the universality of the experiences that we go through as homo sapiens.
Ambrosius: I mean, you just have to. It’s that connection, you know, and I feel once I decide to try and sugarcoat it or back down, it’s when it’s not art anymore. The art is where you completely surrender to the moment and I feel that’s why for so many years I’ve been able to connect with the audience that has listened to my music from way back to “Say Yes” or “Butterflies,” “Far Away” and now “Run” in this new album.
It’s all of these consistent moments where I’ve been honest, whether that’s “I Hope She Cheats On You” (With a Basketball Player) ’cause that was a real…
Tavis: We ain’t gonna talk about that [laugh].
Ambrosius: Faced a (inaudible) moment, if I will say so myself, but…
Tavis: It caught on, though.
Ambrosius: It was a real moment.
Tavis: That was a huge hit.
Ambrosius: Someone related [laugh].
Tavis: No, a whole lot of people did [laugh]. I know some of them [laugh].
Ambrosius: Really bad [laugh].
Tavis: I’m telling on myself now and I don’t wanna do that.
Ambrosius: Yeah, don’t do that.
Tavis: You seem to be navigating the solo thing. I was whispering to you before you came on the set that you seem to be navigating – not seeming, you are in fact navigating the solo thing pretty well. There are a lot of people who start in a duo or a group. They make that adjustment, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You’ve made both work, the duo and the solo thing.
Ambrosius: Well, that’s because even in the duo, we were both definitely, collectively, solo artists. We just managed to find something that worked together. Like I was writing music and wanted to pair it with something that would give it a difference. So inviting a poet to give, you know, some perspective on the songs already done, that became Floetry.
So venturing out on my own, I could then just be 100% me, no compromise for another perspective. It was all 100% my thoughts. You can just give away the art and everyone then becomes the feature, you know.
Tavis: Well, we’re gonna give away some art right about now. I could talk to Marsha for hours. I love hearing what she has to say and that accent makes it sound so much sweeter. It’s the accent I love, yeah. After all these years, you still got it.
Ambrosius: 14 years in, but I do become an honorary Philadelphian every now and again [laugh].
Tavis: Well, you chose a great city to live.
Ambrosius: I did. It chose me.
Tavis: I love Philadelphia. So I’m gonna give away some art now here on public television. Marsha’s new project is called “Friends & Lovers,” Marsha Ambrosius. And we are delighted to have her close the show tonight with a track from the new project.
So I’m gonna run so she can perform a song for you called “Run” from this new CD. But before I run, Marsha, good to have you back on this program.
Ambrosius: Thank you so much for having me.
Tavis: Here comes Marsha from the new project, “Friends & Lovers.” Thanks for watching and, as always, keep the faith. Enjoy Marsha.
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