WITH SOUL SINGER,
If you weren’t already hip to soul singer V Bozeman’s music before, it’s almost a certainty that you would have heard of her outstanding debut performance on FOX’s new show, EMPIRE. Veronica Bozeman is defitely not a newbie to the industry and has been squirreling away in the background for several years now. Thanks to super producer Timbaland signing her signed to his own record label, Mosley Music Group (via Epic Records) we can expect to be seeing and hearing a lot more from the beautiful songstress. V Bozeman sits down to chat with AFROPUNK about her new found stardom and why she won’t be letting the fame go to her head.
By Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK Contributor
You are currently signed to Timbaland.
How did that come about?
Um. I’ve been knowing Timbaland for years. When me and Timothy Bloom did our piece “Til the End Of Time” some years back, Timothy Bloom was signed to Timbaland at the time and that’s how we became acquainted with each other…and during that time he told me “You’re a Star.” He was like, “When I get everything right on my end with the business, I’m coming back for you.” In this industry, people tell you a lot of things so I’m never married to a particular idea, you know? I just say “Ok,” and keep on going. But he really did call. He came back for me and you see me here today and so many things that have birthed since that day that he called because he really did come back for me because he really believes in me.
How did your journey with the music and the music industry begin and what made you gravitate towards that path and keep going?
I always say “I didn’t choose music. Music chose me”. I can’t remember never singing. I can’t remember never calling myself a singer. I’ve been singing since I was five years old in a church and coming up through that channel. I just knew what my calling was from that age and I never had a backup plan or anything. I knew that this is my destiny and I was always determined to reach my goals that I set myself. So, music has always been a part of my life. Always. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time and I’m starting to see the benefits of the hard work.
Who would you say some of your biggest earliest influences were?
I came up through the church so church has always been a big influence for me. That’s where it started from. That’s my roots. Then Whitney Houston, of course. She was and still is my number one superstar. She’s my idol. I’m connected to her more in her afterlife than when she was here. I didn’t get a chance to meet her or even have a moment with her while she was here but I am definitely connected to Whitney Houston. She has influenced me in so many ways as a professional singer and woman…just a lot; she’s influenced as far as my career and me being a soul singer.
Your single “Race Jones” was a very bold song. Do you ever feel like there are certain topics you cannot speak on through your art?
No. I feel like, if something is in my heart to say…Then I’m gonna say it. And I feel like as an artist and as a black woman and as a youth in this generation today, I have responsibility to service the people. We can always sing about love and shakin’ our booty’s and stuff… that’s cool. I’ll never down that but we have to be able to have a perspective and have a point of view on things. The world is changing and there’s current events happening every day. I think that this platform that we use, we need to make sure that we use it and it not use us. There’s so many great artists in powerful positions and if we use the platform to service the people a little bit more, I think that we would be so much more powerful. I pride myself on that idea.
There are so many artists out (thanks partly due to the internet) putting music out. What do you think it is about your music and your sound that has captured people?
I have to feel what I’m singing. I put feeling into my songs. I’m connected to the music. Everything that I do when it comes to approaching a record, it has to be authentic. I I’m not feeling a record, I’m not gon’ sing it because it’s about touching the souls of the people. That’s what soul music is. Music is powerful. Music can change the world, so why would I do this in vain? I have to make sure that I’m connected and I connect with the people, ‘cause the people are gonna choose in the end and they’re thirsty for it. When I turn on the radio, I hear computers. I don’t hear people’s souls. I don’t hear people’s spirit in music anymore and I think that’s what’s missing. There has to be a balance. There has to be a balance when we serve the people with our art.
That’s a nice segue on to your debut in “Empire”. How was that experience for you? Was it overwhelming?
No. No it wasn’t. Was in my element. Working with Terrence Howard in that scene was magical. Terrence Howard is so connected to his character and he takes his art so seriously when it comes to his acting. He’s a true, true thespian. That man is the real deal. So you feel that, and he embraced me as soon as we met so it’s a natural chemistry we had as well. Lee Daniels was there and he was just electrifying and I was in my element. And I believe in the song (written by Jim Dean). It’s the kinda song that has an affect because love is a universal language and that song touches on an understanding like “What is this thing called love? Have you ever really even asked yourself the question?” So there’s all those different elements in there. When we filmed it just all happened in a magical way and it came out on screen. It came out on screen.
Will you be making any further appearances on the show?
I’ll be making several appearances. This is not the end of Veronika. Her name is Veronika and she’s a little spitfire. You’ll b seeing a lot of her. She’s a breakout artist and she wants to be heard. She knows she has a gift and nothing is gonna stand in her way. Not Lucious. Not family. Friends. Nothing will stand in this girl’s way to get where she needs to go.
Is that kind of similar to your own story? Do you relate to that part of her?
Absolutely. I step onto a battlefield every day to try and get to where I need to go. It has not been an easy road. I believe in this gift that God has given me and I believe that its powerful when we use it in the right way. I have destiny to fulfil so I definitely keep my eye on the prize when it comes to my music and ‘m passionate and I’m determined to get the message out. That’s why I’m here on earth. That’s why I’m here.
Would you say the show is a fair representation of how the industry is in real life? Is it that cutthroat?
Absolutely. It’s absolutely that cutthroat. I’m so thankful that Lee Daniels took this opportunity to bring this to such a great big platform and I’m so thankful that he is this type of director. He has to believe in what he does and he is passionate about what he does and he is raw. He doesn’t have filters. He’s gonna give it to you the way it is and he touches on so many topics. The black community with homosexuality, with abuse… he touches on so many things and he really lets you inside of the industry and lets you see that these are real people. These people have families. These people have issues. These people deal with everyday things like every day people and it lets you see that the industry is entertainment. It’s all entertainment. I’m thinking about the girls and the youths of the world that won’t have a chance to even get to Hollywood to see what it really is. They think it’s all real. Empire is so truthful in its depiction of what this industry is all about and I’m so glad that the world gets to see it.
With all of the incredible things that have been happening for you, who keeps you grounded/sane?
My connection with the Lord keeps me sane. My family. My friends. I’m talkin’ bout; I have a pack of Queens around me that are the real deal. My manager Monica Payne. My best friend. Max, my other manager. The tribe around me is no joke and if I didn’t have them, I couldn’t make it. You have to have a covering in this industry. You can’t do it by yourself. It’s like you in a lion’s den of something. I’m so grateful for my team and the covering that they give me and the protection that they give me. I can’t have eyes everywhere. so they have my back and I trust them.
What else is coming up for you in 2015?
So many wonderful things. I did two albums [for] this summer. A collaborative album with Timbaland called Opera Noire and we have a single coming out around February/March that I’m so excited about. And then shortly after my album will be coming out called Music Is My Boyfriend. This year’s gonna be a big year for me. There’s been a lot of sowing seeds and now the drop is starting to grow…