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Dionne Farris At The 32nd Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival
Formerly a member of the group Arrested Development and currently a successful solo artist, Ms. Farris gave me the scoop
By Michele Wilson-Morris
(more articles from this author)
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Dionne Farris and I sat down on Friday, May 29th for an interview. My goal was to find out more about who she is as a person and artist. I found her to be very nice, charismatic, and serious about her music. Formerly a member of the group Arrested Development and currently a successful solo artist, Ms. Farris gave me the scoop.

First of all, on behalf of MusicDish, I'd like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview, and I know your time is valuable, so we'll just get right into the first question. How do you classify yourself artistically or do you find being labeled to any one genre is too limiting?

I don't particularly classify myself in one genre or another. What's it's always been is that which comes from me, that which I see, that which I feel. If I had to give it a name, I would probably call it bop (black organic pop). There's no real true classification in music since all music comes from the creator and we are equal creators in the process.

Where does the inspiration from your music come from?

It starts out with something personal. I'll just get messages for myself and I'm able to use them. Then, it's for others for a healing process, an invoking of the mind and spirit. There's not a lot of music out that does that anymore. There's nothing giving the people something as opposed to being a calling card for the artist.

What happened to Arrested Development? They really had a great, positive message.

They're still going strong, and they still tour. For me, it was always a pitstop because I had been in a group prior to Arrested Development, and prior to that I had been in a band in New Jersey. At that point, I was ready to do a solo project. It was a learning experience -- developing an understanding about the music business, and how I wanted to move forward in my own career.

The 3 songs you performed at the Atlanta Heritage Jazz Festival were For U, Hidden Charm, and Open. Why do you select these particular tracks?

We were actually going to do one more, but the set went a bit long. 'For U' is the single off of the album, and I thought it appropriate because it's been a long time since Wild Flower. For U is simply for the people as well. 'Open' is really just reminiscent of the spirit and energy of 'I Know'. 'Hidden Charm' is one of my favorites on the album, so we do it by popular demand.

How much traveling do you do and how many albums have you completed?

I have had 3 albums under the Music World Label, but I have done mixes here and there. I'm actually looking forward to doing some traveling, would like to do much more of that maybe two or three times a week. I'd like to play as many festivals as possible.

Where are you originally from?

New Jersey

Do you play any instruments?

My main instrument is my voice. I tried in the third grade to play the flute to no avail. I always ended up getting lightheaded and I guess I wasn't doing it properly. From there, I went to the choir, and that was kind of the catalyst for all the things that are happening now. There was a group called the New Jersey singers who were looking for the two best male and female singers between 3rd and 5th grade, and I was chosen and a friend of mine was chosen. We did classical music, Broadway (5 or 6 songs from Cats), and I just had an opportunity to expand my horizons. I sang in school. I never sang in church in an organized choir when I was young. Now, I might do solos, but I was under the mindset that the choir did not sing very well and I did not want to be a part of that. My mom would ask me why I didn't just teach them how to sing, but I didn't know how to do that then. Now I actually do attend church and am the director of the choir.

What type of music do you listen to?

I'm old school and love everything from Barbara Streisand to Luther Vandross to Earth, Wind & Fire. Now I listen to Tamia, Josh Groban, Brian McKnight, and a lot of jazz Dave Koz and all the greats. Their music has meaning and makes you feel things, helps you get through things. If I needed a good song to cry by while going through the breakup of a relationship, I always pulled out Mariah Carey and let the emotion go until I just didn't have any more tears, and I actually felt better. It took time, but it helped me to heal.

You know, you're right, and I like a lot of the same artists. Essentially, we have forgotten about music and we have created these 'pockets of sound' which don't really equate to music. So, when we hear something that is really music, we are drawn to it. Music is a healer, and it is no longer being used to its best ability for the world to help people who are going through things. Even dance music can be healing.

Well, thank you Dionne for talking with me on behalf of MusicDish. I wish you continued success. Love your new CD, by the way.

Thanks! Please let your readers know that they can go to any of these websites and find out more information about my music, and can purchase it at the last two of the three sites as well.

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