Interview

Artist To Watch: Singer @MikhalaJené, Southern Belle From Jacksonville

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408f4fb9-3f11-49d8-97df-66162d53df36Meet singer/songwriter, Mikhala Jené. A southern belle from NC making waves through the music industry, aspiring to be the next big thing in R&B. With several hit covers on Youtube and an endearing voice, Mikhala doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to her art.

Both beautiful and immensely talented, Mikhala is creating a lane for herself by winning us over one follower at a time.

PYNK caught wind of her through Instagram when a short clip of her cover for Rihanna’s “Work” went buzzing on the IG search feed. We were able to catch up with Jené and learn more about her upbringing, her career goals, and her musical inspiration. Continue reading below to get to know Mikhala…

 Also, check out her official single “Who I am”
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PYNK: Tell me about yourself, (where you grew up, personality, etc)

My name is Mikhala Jené and I’m a true southern belle. I’m from Jacksonville, North Carolina, a military town, that didn’t really have much to do growing up so my younger days mostly revolved around school and church.

The upside was that I developed a very active imagination. I loved creative expression through music and art. I have vivid memories of me being draped in my mother’s sheets with lipstick all over my face pretending I was accepting a Grammy, or debuting my fashion collection or just dressing up to dress up! (clears throat) I still do that now! What can I say….Small towns make you a dreamer.

PYNK: How long have you been singing?

I have been singing since I was a child but I was terribly shy. I mean I was really, really shy! I only felt comfortable singing in my room standing on top of my dresser (While draped in a sheet pretending to be Whitney Houston of course).

I hid my voice for a long time until I was 14. I had a dream of God telling me to stop being afraid and to share my gift with the world. After the dream, I had the courage I had been seeking and I led my first solo at church. Before that moment no one really knew I could sing. The love from the congregation gave me the confirmation I needed to know this was my calling and I’ve been answering that call ever since.

PYNK: Who are some of your musical influences?

My first musical influence would have to be my mom. She was a soloist in the church choir and I wanted to be just like her. I loved watching the effect she had on people when she sang. Her beautiful voice was often compared to Anita Baker.

Outside of my mom I’m musically influenced by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, Brandy, Faith Evans and Destinys Child, amongst others. I wanted to be like them all! I also have a lot of gospel influences I was exposed to from growing up in the church such as Kirk Franklin, The Clark Sisters, & Kim Burrell.

PYNK: Any projects that you are working on?

Currently, I’m promoting my debut EP titled “The Prelude.”  It’s Executive Produced by Roc Nation Producer Deputy, who’s responsible for Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

It’s been humbling and exciting hearing such great feedback on the project. I think it’s a great start in the right direction. That’s why we decided to title it “The Prelude” because it’s just the beginning of who I am, my gift and what I have to say. I’ve also recently begun recording the next EP. Shhhh

f83dbf1a-d714-4e82-b647-82e9938c04dfPYNK: How did you get your start in the industry?

I got my start in the industry years ago when my aunt introduced me to a family friend named Corey who introduced me to Q, also a family friend and rapper out of Atlanta. I worked with him for some time before he eventually introduced me to my producer Dep.

Deputy was interested in working with me as a songwriter and over time he mentored me. He sent me recording equipment and I would write and record songs in my room and send them to him for feedback. I would also fly back and forth to New York to write and record with Dep as well.

Then the time came when I decided to move to build on my experience and expand my network of creatives. So I moved to LA! Deputy took me everywhere with him and people would be memorized by my voice so I started demoing songs.

Deputy and I decided to go ahead and begin creating my own material and developing my sound. I am so blessed to have the same people that I worked with when I got here to LA be so supportive and eager to be a part of my first project!

PYNK: Dream collaboration?

Oh my goodness my dream collaboration would have to be Kirk Franklin! I have a bunch of artists that I look up to but I grew up on Kirk Franklin. He may in fact be my Michael Jackson! I’d probably cry the whole time if we worked together. No lie, the whole time! I’m not confident I’d even make it through the whole song. He’s just an amazing composer, songwriter and overall inspiration.

PYNK: Other interests?

When I’m not singing, one of my other interests would have to be drawing. I loved art as a kid and would draw all the time. That was probably my first form of self expression. Now I draw a lot on my Snapchat.

I also love belly dancing! As a teenager I fell in love with it and was trained and have loved it ever since! I love the connection you feel to your femininity and strength as a woman. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s great exercise since I detest the gym!

PYNK: Career goals?

My vision boards on the walls of my room are filled with goals, accolades and record breaking accomplishments that I’ve witnessed my idols achieve that I aspire to have or surpass one day. You know the number one albums, multi platinum selling, Grammy Award winning, a million #1 hit songs; all the things that we strive to attain as artists.  But now as I become more aware of life’s uncertainties, challenges and all the grey areas that we are all trying to navigate, it connects me more to the significant impact that music has on every single individual who listens. With my gift I have the power to relate, love, heal and transform. So the goals I have for my career are to establish a massive platform to do just that and inspire people along the way.

I want to make music that stands the test of time within the hearts of many. I want my voice to be a soundtrack for people’s lives. The accolades and career milestones will occur on their own but it will all mean nothing if no life is impacted and inspired.

Be sure to follow Mikhala on social media @MikhalaJene and check out more tunes on SoundCloud.
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