Senobia is a versatile singer who pours out her soul fused with R&B, jazz, blues, and commercial pop undertones. She is a vocalist, composer, and veteran of the stage having performed with America’s finest as a U.S. Army band singer. She is a born and bred musician from Columbus, Ohio, where her first introductions to music were gospel, doo-wop, pop, and rhythm & blues before she found jazz.
Senobia has performed in jazz clubs on the Caribbean Sea, Opera houses along the Amalfi Coast of Italy, and wineries from Carlsbad, Calif., to Washington, D.C. Her world, life, and musical influences have transformed her music into the exotic culture she has experienced as an internationally traveled singer. Senobia is often referred to as a “sireness” as her voice is so enchanting and dynamic that she will leave listeners swooning for more.
Senobia is a finalist in the 2023 NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition, which will take place on Saturday, November 18, at Citizen Vinyl in downtown Asheville, N.C. Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.
NewSong Music: What sort of music was playing in your house when you were growing up?
Senobia: Growing up, we would sing harmonies with our grandma to songs such as like The Jackson 5’s “Rockin Robin.” My grandma loved to sing 1950s doo-wop and barbershop quartet songs and I loved to sing with her. My grandmother’s voice is similar to the famous jazz singer Nancy Wilson. I would also transcribe music from the radio so a lot of the 1990s music from artists like Donny Hathway, Lauren Hill, Kirk Franklin, Whitney Houston, Micheal Jackson, Usher, OutKast, Destiny’s Child, R. Kelly, En Vogue, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Eminem. I loved to sing, rap, and just vibe to all the different types of music I heard my family listening to and what I found on the radio.
What was your journey to music?
My musical journey began in 4th grade, so when I was nine I started on the violin. That first year of reading music really set the tone for my musicianship. That next year, I moved to choir and have been singing ever since. In middle school, I received more musicianship training and singing development through the choir. By the time I got to high school, I was performing competitively as a soloist in the choir and in solo and ensemble competitions. Our high school choir traveled and competed internationally with two of us at the forefront leading the solos. When I went to college, I began my studies on the piano as my secondary instrument and became a classically trained singer. I performed a recital every year at my local church and fundraised to pay for a two-week trip to the Amalfi Coast to perform with a summer Opera program. After graduation, I joined the military and started to perform all different types of genres with the U.S. Army band from rock, country, patriotic, soul, jazz, blues, classical, R&B, and pop music. It was a lot of fun to get to perform your favorite top 40 music and some old-school music sprinkled in. When I got out of the Army I went back to school to get my master’s degree in vocal pedagogy. There, I really learned all the nuances of the voice and how to master the instrument. I started my professional voice teaching business and have been performing and songwriting since completing my master’s. I wish I could say I came from a family of musicians but really, I am the only one — but we have a few singers.
What is the first song you wrote that you were proud of, and why?
The first song I wrote that I was really proud of was “Time To Breathe,” the title track from my new EP I released this past March. I had that song in my head for years. “Time To Breathe” is the tail end of a story about a point in my life where I felt low enough to end my life from losing the love I cherished. I was young and didn’t quite know what love was, but I knew that was the person I wanted at that time in my life. Every time I perform and hear this musical composition I am moved because I made it through a dark time. “Time To Breathe” was one of those songs you just know needs to be heard. So I had a strong compulsion to get this song created. I actually tried working with two other producers before I found the one who helped me bring this song to life. Once “Time To Breathe” was created, it did relieve some of the emotional burden I had been feeling all these years. So it is one of my most beloved songs.
What is your writing process like?
My writing process is a bit unorthodox. I use the universe to help me write my music, which seems weird, but I say that because my songs come to me at random. Sometimes I’m more intentional and just listen to the world around me. But the songs I write almost always start with some sort of melody. I’ll just be living life and realize I’m humming the same melody over and over, so I record a voice memo then come back and start composing the structure on the piano. Sometimes lyrics will come right away, other times I craft a story from my life experiences or from what I feel from the melody and chords. My favorite songs are the ones that I write in my dreams. I’ll just be making music in my dream, wake myself up to record the voice memo, and work on it later. I have much more fantastical ideas and sometimes I can create the full song as I recall it from my dream.
Share a musical adventure from this summer with us — an experience that really stood out for you.
This summer I really did as much as I could to promote my first album, so just about anywhere I went I was shamelessly promoting and singing. We took my Dad to New Orleans for his birthday. One morning, while walking around, there was a jazz band playing outside at a local cafe. On their break, I went up and asked them if I could perform a few tunes. It doesn’t always happen but they let me join the set. I performed and afterward, I promoted my album. Wherever I go, I always try to find local musicians to share musical stories, but this was a nice surprise. It was my first performance in New Orleans, but not even three months later, I was back there performing at an artist showcase.