Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was no way you’d see a jock singing and dancing. It was so unheard of that when the ‘00s rolled around and the likes of ‘Glee’ and ‘High School Musical’ presented the idea – the world went insane. Except, it’s not that crazy to think that someone who can dunk a basketball can also carry a tune. It happens all the time, and artists like CEEj are proof of that. When he decided to step back on the court, COVID had other plans. With that, he turned to another aspiration and that’s where we’re kicking this off…
Kendra: You mentioned you were an ex-athlete. I’ve talked to a couple of former athletes that turned to music when they got injured and taken out of the game. Was that what happened to you? If not, what sparked your interest in music?
CEEj: I transferred from Texas A&M at Commerce to The University of North Texas to pursue a collegiate athletic career. I played AAU basketball in high school and thought that I was done with it after my senior year. However, after my freshman year of college – after joining a fraternity, partying, and just living the regular college student life – I realized how much I actually missed playing basketball. I thought I was done with it because in grade school my entire life was basketball, basketball, basketball. I thought the partying life, the regular college student life was what I wanted, but after a year of experiencing it I was satisfied with what I had experienced and the people I had met and decided to get back to basketball.
When I transferred to UNT I was desperately emailing coaches for weeks and then finally got a reply and I got on with the girl’s practice team. This was a way of getting onto the men’s team, but then Covid-19 happened and all the games were canceled and there were no more practices for the rest of the year.
When it comes to music I’ve always imagined myself being an artist and performing in front of thousands and thousands of people. My dad has played the piano at church since I can even remember and my mom always tells me she was a choir junkie in college and high school. I always watched my dad perform at church and I admired him for it, but I could just never build up the courage to perform in front of people. My parents also made me join things like the orchestra in middle school and the piano classes my high school held. I really enjoyed and deeply miss playing those instruments. It allowed me to escape from the outside world, but as soon as I left those classrooms I was right back in judgment. My “friends” would make fun of me for playing instruments causing me to give it all up.
Kendra: Have you been able to implement anything you learned in sports to your budding music career?
CEEj: Sports actually helped me learn how to have confidence in myself. It taught me how to face adversity and how to have those guts. Plus, with me finally putting myself out there for people to hear my feelings and thoughts takes a lot of guts.
Kendra: Right now you have your debut single, “Have Patience” out. Did you have any nerves swirling as you neared the release date in March?
CEEj: I had so many nerves when my song was about to be released, not gonna lie. I remember as soon as 12:00am hit and my song dropped I posted them on all of my socials and went straight to sleep, but I woke up to a lot of positive feedback and I am thankful for that.
Kendra: Patience is something new artists have to have a lot of because not everyone is going to blow up right away. What acts as a reminder of that for you?
CEEj: Well for one my own song “Have Patience” haha. It’s literally about just having patience and thinking positive thoughts and greater things than you can ever imagine will come to you. My mom would always tell me these things when I was just a kid and it always stuck with and will forever stick with me.
Kendra: On top of your history with sports, and your music at the moment – you’re also into acting. Are you looking to become a triple threat in Hollywood?
CEEj: Haha yes I am. I’m not going to lie. I always worry “what if I’m doing too much,” but I really am passionate about it all and I believe that one day I will be at the top. With being at the top I hope to help many people know that anything is possible and to go after their dreams.
Kendra: If you could star (and sing) in a biopic of any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
CEEj: Wow, this is a tough question. I admire so many artists, but if I had to choose it would be Micheal Jackson. I grew up listening to him, my whole family loves him and I just love the way he presented himself through everything. Adversity, the public’s eye, on stage, etc. I also just love the way he could move and dance on stage, I love how he could take the breath out of the crowd. I always imagined myself doing those same things.
Kendra: Lastly, it’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
CEEj: I plan on having some more singles coming out soon, and am looking into small acting gigs starting out whether that be student films, local commercials, etc. I’ve also sparked an interest in theatre. I don’t have much knowledge about it, but my cousin forced me to watch ‘Hamilton’ and I loved it. So I am now actually looking into local theatres and plays to join or audition for. Last note, I might be getting cast for an “amateur male dance competition” for a major network so be on the lookout!