Photo Credit: Ian Frank
A sophomore in college when she first picked up the bass, Divinity Roxx said she fell in love with the instrument in an instant and from that point started to teach herself and is humble enough to say she’s still learning things about it. Humble because her musical skills landed her a job as the musical director for a performer that is arguably the most beloved today — Beyonce. While it was a gig that garnered her opportunities of a lifetime, Divinity Roxx knew it was time to start doing her own thing and with that has her own style that combines varied genres and when it all comes together, fans from all sides of the spectrum can come together and enjoy. We talked to Divinity Roxx about her early years as an outsider, her time touring with Beyonce and her next steps, including where she’ll be playing this summer.
Kendra: You have this hip hop meets rock sound today, were you always into both genres growing up though?
Divinity Roxx: I’ve always been into hip-hop music. I’ve also always loved Jazz, Funk, R&B, pop and alternative music. as well. You know, when you listen to early hip-hop music there was a heavy rock influence there. I think I started getting into rock music in high school. As I was growing up, music wasn’t as segregated as you’d think so I was exposed to many different genres which I think you can hear in my music.
Kendra: Being black and into rock music isn’t uncommon but I know that even in like 2003, I was one of the very few black girls I’d see at say New Found Glory back then. Did you ever feel like an outsider of sorts because of that?
Divinity Roxx: I’ve always felt like an outsider. I never followed the crowd. I never fit into one crowd. I think it’s in my nature to think on my own, to make my own decisions about what I like, what I’m into, and why I’m into it.The thing is, there is always somebody else into what you’re in to. Perhaps you don’t look like them and they don’t look like you but finding common ground and being able to relate is so much more important than only being around people who look like you.
Kendra: Who are some of the women in music who’ve inspired you to play and perform?
Divinity Roxx: I’ve been inspired by a number of women, not all of them musicians. Some of my really early influences to performing and writing have been women like Janet Jackson (as a little girl, I looked up to her as the ultimate performer), Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Meshell Ndege O’cello, and Janelle Monae.
Kendra: Speaking of inspirational women, you just mentioned her – and you were the music director for Beyonce. What were you doing right before you landed that job?
Divinity Roxx: I was touring with this incredible bass player, Victor Wooten and working on a new album before I started touring with Beyonce. I was playing shows and gigs around Atlanta and building a name for myself as a bass player and as an artist.
Kendra: Is there anything you learned working with her and being a part of her team that you continue to take with you today in your own journey?
Divinity Roxx: I learned so much from Beyonce. I learned that it takes a lot of hard work to be great. You need a strong team who supports you, encourages you and pushes you forward. You have to work tirelessly, never say you’re tired and never lose sight of the fact that you are blessed. I learned that there are some things you have to leave some work to other people, that you just can’t do everything. I learned that there are many ups and downs, that you have to make tough decisions but most of all you have to have a very tough skin. No matter what anybody says about you, you have to hold your head high in the face of it all. I learned that you have a responsibility to the community, that a lot is expected of you and despite your best efforts you may not meet everybody’s expectations but you have to be okay with that. I learned that in spite of it all, you have to be able to live with yourself and make the best of your life.
Kendra: With all that, you’ve played for everyone from Obama to Oprah. Um, do you even have any room left to be nervous when you step onto a stage after those two?
Divinity Roxx: I have moments when I am nervous. That nervous feeling creeps up on me sometimes, and no matter how many stages I’ve graced, those butterflies are real. Some nights I’m not nervous at all, and other times I’m downright fearful. Of course when I’m playing a major show I’m really nervous, like The White House or Glastonbury but sometimes nerves will find me at a small club in the middle of nowhere. I’ll get butterflies out of the blue and when I tell the band, “oh man, I’m nervous tonight,” they laugh, tease me a bit and ask why. I think it reminds me that I still love and care about what I do, so it keeps me on my toes.
Kendra: You album, ImPossible, has this great play on words to it. I was wondering, where was your mind at when you penned that song?
Divinity Roxx: I called the album ImPossible because we are all too familiar with being told that our dreams and aspirations are impossible. We have an opportunity every time we hear the word impossible to turn it into a positive, to remember that I’m in fact possible and my goals and my dreams are attainable.
Kendra: With that, what mood drives you to write the most?
Divinity Roxx: I am a writer. I write when I’m happy, I write when I’m sad. I write when I’m inspired, when I’m compelled to share an idea, a thought, a story I think people will be moved by. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl and I think I will write when I am old and gray.
Kendra: Lastly, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Divinity Roxx: I’m planning on working this album. I’m planning a US tour in July as well as a tour of Europe in September. We’re working on releasing a video for the next single and I’ll be playing some shows around New York City as well as teaching some bass clinics in the UK and in the US. Its tough being a truly independent artist. It’s hard to compete for people’s attention when you’re competing against artists who have huge budgets, an army of people working to get their product to the masses, and who have access to media that I don’t have. But we are working hard, and we continue to do so to get this music and this message out to the world. We believe in this music. We believe in this message, and we will share it one person at a time if need be.