When Movakween walks into a room, she demands attention, and radiates bravado. Raised in Baltimore, the blue-haired singer-songwriter has music and style running through her veins.
From a young age, Movakween knew she could sing, and knew she could sing well. She watched her aunt's gospel group, joined the church choir, and took cues from everyone around here to form her own unique self. Drawing inspiration from the undisputed queens of soul, Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill, Movakween developed her own way of performing. Often, she'll play the role of conductor, leading a guitarist, or full band, to improvise as she fluctuates from rehearsed songs and spontaneous verse.
The singer cites giving birth to her daughter as ample motivation to take her career to the next step. With a slew of local performances already under her belt, from the Windup Space to The Crown as well as the first-annual PangeaFest, Movakween is ready to capture bigger audiences and grander stages.
What's the story behind your name?
MOVAKWEEN: It's just really coming from womanhood to motherhood – I just had a daughter, so it's brought the motherly side out of me. The “kween” is about coming into that, and knowing that I'm a queen.
How did that transition into motherhood change your life in ways you didn't expect?
I just elevated as a woman, it took me ten levels up from where I was at. They're the transitions you take as a woman: you're a girl, then you're a teen, and then you're a young woman, and then you come into motherhood. With motherhood, nothing else is really below that. I came into my prime.
Were you taking art and music more seriously afterwards?
I think what happened afterwards is that I developed a confidence that can't be torn down. Not only am I doing this for myself, I'm doing this for my daughter.
What is your background in music? Did you take any formal training, were you exposed to it in your family?
I grew up around a gospel-inspired family. We went to church and stuff like that. When I was six-years-old, I used to watch my aunt's gospel group. I watched them and I started to sing. I knew I could sing at six, but I come from a musical family. I was performing with my grandmother and her band; she's a saxophone player. I was in the studio since fourteen, and I've been growing since then. Now I'm at the point where nothing can come in the way of it.
What are some of your inspirations beyond church and family? At the “Our Nature” open mic, you did a couple more “traditional” R&B but also some more uptempo, trying to get the crowd involved.
I'm really one of those freestylin', jam-session type of people. The song that was more upbeat is a song that I actually wrote and recorded, that was one of my laid-down songs. I like to jam, and just have musicians in the room, and everyone just free flow, off the energy in the air. I like unexpected stuff – and you can have structure, and you can plan – but I realized that when you plan for stuff, it probably won't just go that way. It always goes off however you felt when you were there at that particular time. I just like to feel in that moment, and take it there. On musical inspirations, I get my live inspirations from Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. I'm really, really inspired by Beyoncé and her work ethic, and that she spends time to make sure her performance is on point. Then just all our elders. I'm inspired by a lot, everybody.
Where do you get your personal style from?
I've always been really stylish. My mom is really into style, and my aunts are all really stylish. In the 70's, they were just all about that – they were that. I naturally developed their sense of style. I'm really bold, I just like to go out there. If it's in my reach and it's out there, I'll go for it. I like to stand out, and express myself really loud. 'I'm here and this is what it is, there's a lot to this. There's a lot of information here!
Did you experiment with poetry or other forms of writing?
I've always had a voice. So I had to come to the conclusion that I have a voice and it's not something that you can really learn. You were born with a voice. This is what you're here to do, and you're not here to do anything else. With poetry, it came with the songwriting. I just started writing in my diary, and then you want to start and find a rhythm to it. I never really indulge into something else. In some of my songs, I'll rap or spit some poetry just to switch up the flow a little bit.
What are your favorite themes to write and sing about?
My themes are whatever I'm feeling in that moment. Most of all, love. Everything in life stems out to some type of form, or some type of category of love. Everything I do focuses on love. Even if it comes out romantically, I can always perceive it, or take something deeper out of it. With romantic love, you can put that in the same sense, as if you're talking about the world. You can put it in different ways. Love is always what I talk about.
Were you born and raised in Baltimore?
I was born, and somewhat raised, in Baltimore. I moved from the city when I was eleven-years-old and I moved out to Harford County. That's the county, but I've always been here, because I got family out here. I'm from Over West, Park Heights. I'm Baltimore.
Where are you spiritually? Are you still involved with the church, or have things changed for you.
Absolutely, things have definitely shifted. I came into a more deeper realization that what I'm looking for it's not outside of myself, and that it's here, inside of myself. I question everything that I was taught, or everything I've come in contact with. I've got a whole new perspective on things. Just to come to the realization that a whole life is growing inside of me, was like what is this? I can't really explain it all, because I'm still learning; I'm learning too much right now.