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Rising Stars: Meet Moiro Konchellah

Today we’d like to introduce you to Moiro Konchellah.

Hi Moiro, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I walked before I crawled, and I sang before I could talk… music & forward movement have always been a part of my life, though I’ve had quite a few detours throughout my journey.

Born in Belle Glade, Florida (“Muck City”), the 3rd of 4 daughters of an entrepreneurial, proud Maasai father and a brilliant, innovative Southern mother, I was raised in a home with an all-encompassing music collection. My love for music and gift of singing was cultivated on our unofficial Music Saturdays in the house; my hunger for performing was fed by BET and MTV throughout the week. Aside from youth choir at church or a school talent show here and there, I did not get serious about performing until I connected with two of my music mentors — Kenneth Jackson Jr, founder of Street Beat, Inc, and Zarak Lawson, my high school Chorus Teacher and the first producer I worked with. Between the two of them, plus a concerted effort from my mom to focus on my voice, I jumped at opportunities to sing, record and even write lyrics & arrange vocals for independent artists from my hometown.

My natural talent and foundational knowledge of music theory led me to the historic Fisk University… this was a very pivotal season for me as a young adult and aspiring artist. While a music major at Fisk, I recorded and toured with the University’s premier ensemble, the Fisk Jubilee Singers®, and was able to build community with several musical Fiskites and friends in the Nashville area. Another aspect of my HBCU experience was pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as a Sophomore and serving as Miss Fisk University my Senior year.

Upon graduation, two additional mentors, Benita Jones and Frederick L. Vaughn, got me further plugged in as a studio & live session BGV and also helped me not go crazy or hungry as I was figuring out my adult life so far away from family. Over the years, I’ve taught music, started a vocal coaching business, worked in music ministry at a few churches, performed to my heart’s content at Disneyland… it literally took quarantine and lots of self-reflection as a furloughed Disney Princess to recalibrate and get back into my singer-songwriter bag. And, here we are!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As the song says, “the road is long, with many a winding turn…” Those who know me well know that I’ve overcome quite a few seemingly insurmountable circumstances that I don’t often discuss. Nothing prepares you for losing your father just a few months shy of your high school graduation. Nothing prepares you for abruptly losing a music ministry job that you relocated even further away from your family for. Nothing prepares you for losing money and momentum after a shady producer ghosts you mid-production. And absolutely nothing prepares you for losing a baby after joyfully announcing your pregnancy to your family. To be completely honest, each of these losses still affects me on different levels and have shaped how I show up and speak up for myself daily. I am strong, I am weak. And I keep showing up.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am currently a Teaching Artist; I’ve just put my foot back on the gas as a solo artist, and I am a Voice professor at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood (via Zoom these days, of course).

I released my debut single, “Who” June 2018, took a pause (“Selah”), did a few shows at Disneyland prior to the COVID-19 shutdown (Festival of Holidays as a member of The Sound; “Tale of the Lion King” as Shenzi & Timón; Mickey and the Magical Map” as Princess Tiana), then I revved back up and released my latest record, “Know Us”, February 2021. I am most known for my distinct tone, my engaging performance style, relatable lyrics and memorable melodies. I am most proud of my phrasing choices, from the wordiness of “Who” to the comforting minimalism of “Know Us”. I wouldn’t say that my ability to write lyrics & compose music for myself, engineer my own vocal sessions, and arrange & match my own BGVs sets me apart because so many of my friends and I have learned to master these things out of necessity… but I will say that I’m grateful for the ability to cover all of these elements of the recording process. I’m definitely working towards being as close to a one-stop-recording shop as I can!

Oh! I’d also like to share another project that I created and launched during Quarantine 2020: 1866 FM! What began as a monthly curated playlist highlighting students and alumni of Fisk University has morphed into a platform that celebrates and connects Fisk Recording Artists, promotes their music and artistic endeavors, engages with them through the “1866 FM: Meet The Artist” live interview series (exclusively on Instagram), and shares with 1866 FM supporters how to best contribute to their fave Fiskite who is independently navigating the music industry, in 4 steps:

1) Follow – Head to their artist pages on all social networks & DSPs (iTunes, Spotify, etc.).

2) Engage – Like & comment on their socials; “Love” and write reviews of their songs on all DSPs.

3) Share – Introduce others to their music; post their single & album URLs, and repost their social media content to your page, stories & highlights.

4) Buy – Purchase their track, album, or catalogue; order merch (t-shirts, hats, buttons, posters) directly from their website. And, if you can’t swing a purchase at this time, the first three steps are completely free!

With the invaluable assistance & advice from my amazing husband, filmmaker & director Robert L. Poole, I’ve created and invited people to this community with the sole purpose of championing Fisk Recording Artists and offering them an intentional space to share their music and their journey. The possibilities of this platform are endless, as I am exploring next steps for a music publishing, licensing & supervision arm.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
One quote that I always come back to is by the late tennis champion, Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” I usually spin these three calls to action into three questions for my students (and for myself when I need to recalibrate): Where are you currently in the pursuit of your goals? What do you have at your disposal? What can you do today, this week, this month, to further close the gap between your right now & your dream fulfilled? Once you (and I) have answered these questions, you will know what your next steps are.

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Image Credits:

Robert L. Poole De’Anna Butler

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