Photo Credits: Jerry James and Rod Risbrook
Nhojj Song has made 6 CDs and 11 singles, which includes the song track for 2 movies, throughout his career. In 2009 he won an OUTMusic Award R&B/Soul Song for “LOVE,” which was the first song and video by a black gay independent artist to reach #1 on the MTV Music charts. In 2010 he won the Out Jazz Fresh Fruit Festival Musical Performance for “Music” and an OUTMusic Award R&B/Soul Song for the chart-topper “The Gay Warrior Song.” The Caribbean born-Chicago area residence has won the hearts of fans both domestically and internationally. He has performed with music icons such as Norah Jones, Regina Belle, Taylor Dayne and Crystal Waters. Sky blue is the color which best describes Nhojj Song; blue represents his mellow, kind and gentle spirit and the sky represents the boundless passion he has for his craft. PrideIndex talked with Nhojj Song about his career, musical influences and about what’s next.
PrideIndex (PI): Hello Nhojj how are you doing today?
Nhojj Song (NS): I am doing well.
PI: I know that you are busy with many different projects, so rather than easing into I just going to outright go for. What projects are you working on in the studio right now?
NS: I am working on a couple of collaborations. A few of the newer artist have been reaching out to me and I think that it’s great to work with them, to just collaborate.
PI: Which artist in particular are you collaborating with, is there anything you can share with us?
NS: I’d better not say exactly which ones. I am working in the studio with new projects that are forthcoming.
PI: I’m a little bit nosy could you send me a little signal by tapping on the telephone one time if they’re out, then twice if they are an independent artist or even African American artist?
NS: (LAUGHS) They’re independent artist. I am real excited about that.
PI: That’s great! It’s always a good that once an artist reaches a level of success they’re willing to reach back a generation or to help pull up someone left behind.
PI: With that being said what sort of advice would you offer to the younger generation or an aspiring artist in of terms of getting started in the music industry? Or working as an independent artist?
NS: First I would say to hone your craft and to read books, take whatever classes you can, check out YouTube and of course be the best artist that you can. I would say to learn about the new technology and about the new industry models. The industry is kind of influx right now but there are lots of new ideas out there floating around and a lot of them are really kind of interesting and exciting. I know that there’s a lot to learn about the industry but you have to be informed and keep up to date.
PI: Earlier this spring you appeared at an event at The Center on Halsted in Chicago with Tim M’ West and Marshall Titus. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
NS: We had been working on that event for a while. I really wanted to work with Tim M’ West because he and Marshall were people that I have come to admire. We did not confirm everything until the last minute however the turnout was pretty good and we had a great show. And hopefully we will get to record something together sometime soon. Marshall and I have been talking about recording a song together, and so have Tim M and I, hopefully we will be able to pull it off soon.
PI: We’re all proud of your accomplishment being the first black openly out artist to have a video on MTV. Your song “LOVE” made the top ten for a couple of weeks.
NS: Yeah “LOVE” was #1 for a couple of weeks and that was very mind boggling. It was the right time when my music could be used in a gay music video and it could get played on MTV where people could actually see it. I think it’s important for us as gay men to see ourselves in positive lights I was really thankful to be part of that particular situation.
PI: You music has been featured in 2 independent gay movies Kirk Shannon-Butt’s “Blueprint” and Roger Omeus’ “Finding Me.” What was that process like and how did you become familiar with both gentlemen?
Nhojj Song (NS): I met Roger Omeus years ago he took pictures of me when I was just starting out and then we’d lost track of one another. We were re-acquainted years later when he was making films and he needed music for one of his film projects. In his first film he ended up using my songs for the lovemaking scenes.
Kirk and I met through a mutual friend who was the music coordinator for his movie “Blueprint.” Our mutual friend asked me to submit music, Kirk ended up picking “Love” for his movie. I did not know Kirk at the time; we met later at a fashion week event.
PI: Just to show you how we’re all separated by six degrees I’d recently spoken with Big Rod (Risbrook) the photographer who’d taken pictures of you at the Brooklyn Museum. At the time we talked I did not know you that he took your photos.
NS: Yeah Rod Risbrook shoot the photos for my last music video called “Amazing Grace,” a marriage equality video. I love his work and when I knew that I was going to perform at the Brooklyn Museum I told him that “you just have to do the photos for me.”
PI: Tell us more about your appearance earlier this year at the Brooklyn Museum.
NS: The Brooklyn Museum opens its doors every first Saturday of the month for a free event. There’s live music, poetry readings, a fashion show or whatever else you can image; it’s a great way for them to get the community involved and connected to the museum. Earlier this year they had an exhibit that focused on the influence that gender and sexuality plays in American folklore and a festival called Out and Proud featuring out artist. I played in that festival, it was great to be part of that event.
PI: Your sound is a kind of Jazzy; who are some of your influences?
NS: Sade, Maxwell, and Indie Arie, she focuses on sending out positive messages. Earlier on while growing up I liked artist like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and DeBarge. And Of course growing up in the Caribbean I was influenced by folks like Bob Marley.
PI: What was your childhood like?
NS: My dad was a church minister so I grew up in a religious home. My parents and my family were loving people but when it came to sexuality and coming out I did not come out until I was 18 or 19. There was a bit of a rift between us for a number of years but they got to know me as a gay man; we had to figure out what our relationship would be. It took about ten years to work through our issues but now we’re back to having a fairly close relationship that’s based on respect and they’re not trying to change me.
PI: Speaking of the Caribbean and Bob Marley you have a song called the “Gay Warrior.” Where did you find the muse for that?
NS: I started to write that in 2004. I had just the chorus; it took all those years to just say that, “I’m a gay warrior.” The song talks about how much courage it takes to live our lives openly. If you’re a straight person you don’t think twice about walking down the street hugging, kissing, or holding your partner’s hand. If you’re a homosexual, or at least in my own experience, you have to look where you are at the time and think about it before walking down the street showing affection with your partner and think or hold your breath before you do that. With “Gay warrior” I really wanted to show that for people who choose to live as an out person it really takes the courage of a warrior. I wanted people to celebrate those people and celebrate the strength they have.
PI: Can your fans expect to have more from you in terms of music in the Reggae genre?
NS: I love reggae; they can definitely expect to hear more reggae from me.
Click Here: Watch “Nhojj – MUSIC and the word” chronicles homosexual indie singer-songwriter Nhojj in preparation for the landmark “Out & Proud” Brooklyn Museum First Saturday concert. Through interviews, rehearsal and performance footage, the 16 minute short elaborates on the power of music, and the positive messages behind the lyrics of his songs.