Sunday, February 28, 2010
PHILLY BRED SINGER/ACTIVIST SPEAKS
Phialdelphia has many historic landmarks including Philadelphia International Records which was the home to The O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and Patti LaBelle, Sigma Studios, Giovanni's Room and the Philadelphia School of the Arts, which produced many talented and successful singers including Boyz II Men and Anye Elite, who's carrying the spirit of Philadelphia with his talent and activism as an openly Gay singer/songwriter.
Born to a African-American mother and an Afro-Dominican father, Anye was always surrounded by music, but when his grandfather gave him a copy of Mariah Carey's classic tape "Music Box" he began to hone his singing and songwritng skills and by the time he reached high school, he began to embrace his sexuality and become an active member in the Gay community by performing at various Gay Prides through out the South and releasing several singles including "Everytime We Make Love," "Thank Your Tonight "Live" and his current single "I Got Him" which can be found on his mix tape "Sneak Preview"
I had the opportunity to speak to this talented brother via telephone and we spoke about his life, music and the meaning of his name.
Q: HOW ARE THINGS GOING?
ANYE: Things are going splended. We are getting reay for widespread distrubion for my recntly released mix tape "Sneak Preview." Getting ready to tour.
Q: YOU HAVE AN UNIQUE NAME? WHAT DOES YOUR NAME REPRESENTS?
ANYE: Anye is actually my middle name. My mother named me after fashion designer Eitneer Aigner. I'm named after a handbag. Not that flattering (both laugh). According to her, she went through painstaking measures of going to the store to make sure she spelled the name correctly. And here I am changing it.
Q: HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOVLED IN MUSIC?
ANYE: My mother and my grandfather are the two most important people in my life. They were both singers and my father played (the) guitar. It's just something that ran in the family. Also my childhood probably wasn't the best thing going so music is something I turned to for comfort.
SUPREMEWRITER: WHICH PEOPLE INFLUCENCED YOU MUSICALLY?
ANYE: Defintely Mariah Carey.
SUPREMEWRITER: I love Mimi.
ANYE: Yeah you have to. Do you prefer old Mimi or new Mimi?
SUPREMEWRITER: I love all of her stuff, but I love "Can't Let Go" and "Butterfly" when she was divorcing Tommy Mottola.
ANYE: From Mariah. Donny Hathaway, Phyliss Hyman. Kevin Aviance and (rapper) Mase.
SUPREMEWRITER: YOU'RE ORIGINALLY FROM PHILADELPHIA AND YOU ATTENDED THE PHILLY SCHOOL OF THE ARTS. HOW DID IT FEEL TO ATTEND A SCHOOL WHERE LEGENDS BOYZ II MEN GRADUATED AND CAME SUCCESSFUL AND HOW DID IT FEEL TO COME FROM A CITY WHERE PHILLY INTERNATIONAL RECORDS WAS FOUNDED?
ANYE: Whenever you have a dream of becoming successful, as many things that connect you to people who are successful, it feels good because it feels destined to be and you're walking in the legacy but ie also has a new meaning for me; it's when I came out sexuality wise and of course later on that would affect my music.
SUPREMEWRITER: YOU ALSO RELOCATED TO MIAMI AM I CORRECT?
SUPREMEWRITER: WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO RELOCATE FROM PHILLY TO MIAMI?
ANYE: Well actually, right from Philly, we went to Daytona Beach. We left Philly because my grandfather had retired and I was 15 or 14 years old, so I went where he went and I went to Florida.
SUPREMEWRITER: AND THAT'S WHEN YOU BECAME ACTIVE IN GAY RIGHTS?
ANYE: Yeah, but it really started more so, when I got to Atlanta, but the idea and compassion began in Florida is very Ango-Saxon; podomiatley Caucasian, and as a Black Gay man, I felt not connected and the only thing I had to connect me ot the outside Gay world was "Noah's Arc." And I didn't have Logo, but seeing those guys kinda living their lives made me say 'I wanna do the same thing so I moved to Atlanta and haven't looked back.
SUPREMEWRITER: DID MOVING TO ATLANTA PROMPTED YOU TO BECOME AN OPEN GAY ARTIST AND ACTIVIST?
ANYE: Yes. For the longest time in my mind, I seperated the two people. So there was me the singer and me the activist, and there were actually two myspace pages and websites.
And I couldn't belive that Gay people could be counted and equal. Now my music reflects that.
SUPREMEWRITER: I LISTENED TO YOUR MUSIC AND I LOVE THE BALLAD "EVERYTIME WE MAKE LOVE" AND THE LATIN FEEL IT HAS. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE A BALLAD ABOUT LOVE MAKING WITH A LATIN FEEL?
ANYE: Well alot of people don't know this, but my father was born in the Dominican Republic and so the Latin/Hispanic influences was in my life for a while. "Everytime We Make Love" is not actually how we put it. What the title implies is more so about being in a trumultrious relationship, and the only thing you have that's keeping you together is the love making because the love making reminds you the reason why you'ree with him. "Everytime We Make Love" is actually inspried by a friends of mine's relationship, and unfortantely, I found myself in a situation where art mirrored life.
SUPREMEWRITER: YOU KNOW THAT MY FAVORITE IS THE "LIVE" VERSION OF "THANK YOU FOR THE NIGHT."
ANEY: WE MUST PUT LIVE IN QUTATIONS! (Both Laugh)
SUPRMERWRITER: WE WILL!! WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO RECORD A BALLAD WITH A LIVE FEEL?
ANYE: It was a song on a Mariah album called "I Wish You Knew" from "The Emancipation of Mimi" album and she did this songe like a Diana Ross inspired kinda vibe with the song and talk to the audience and I thought it would be cool.
SUPREMEWRITER: I also enjoyed "Them Dudes and "They Love It."
ANYE: Memories. We're talking about these songs that aren't avaliable to the public (laughs). "Them Dudes" was also alot of experimenting for me because when I first moved to the South, it was a different experience for me because how they did Hip-Hop are (like) totally different. Itw as my first time doing that with a Southern vibe.
SUPREMEWRITER: I ALSO SAW A CLIP OF YOU ON YOU TUBE PERFORMING A SONG THAT PAY HOMAGE TO MANY GAYS AND LESBIANS WHO WERE MURDERED.
ANYE: "Just In Case" didn't make it ot the mix-tape because I'm actually saving it for the album "Gay 101." "Just In Case" originally inspired by Larry Levine King from California. One of his classmates shot him in the head because it was preceived he was gay. You can't definetly say he was gay, but because he had femine mannerisms and one of the kids brought a shot gun to school and shot him. I saw that on the news and I did research on Michael J. Sandy in New York. Alot of people think we're in this wonderful society where people aren't killed for who they are, but it's still happening.
SUPREMEWRITER: YOU ALSO SAID YOU'RE WORKING ON YOUR ALBUM "GAY 101" WHEN WILL THAT BE COMING OUT?
ANYE: "Gay 101" is to be determined. The vision for the album is to tell a story of bascially my experiences and general experiences in the life, so that's from the beginning of coming out to realizing you have an attraction to guys to going out to the clubs to having sex. Kinda like give life lessons because growing up, nobody tells you this is how to be a Gay man and this is what's gonna happen in your life. There's no way to prepare you for that, so the album's supposed to prepare you for that. I want the album to be consistant to listen to from beginning to end.
SUPREMEWRITER: YOU SAID THAT YOU'RE GONNA BE TOURING? DO YOU KNOW WHAT CITIES YOU'RE GONNA HIT UP?
ANYE: We definetly want to hit up Philadelphia. New York. Boston and D.C. Miami and Atlanta. We're in the process of working on some small venues.
SUPRMEWRITER: IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO WORK WITH ANYBODY MAINSTREAM OF LGBT, WHO WOULD IT BE?
ANYE: It would be Mariah cause I love her like that. As far as LGBT, I would say Last Offense, Kevin Aviance. Actually (my) dream collabulation and this would be something that would have a music video attached to it or a live performance, would be Kevin Aviance, RuPaul and Jay Karan.
SUPREMEWRITER: IN ADDITION TO MUSIC WHATELSE YOU DO IN THE COMMUNITY?
ANYE: I've experience a significant amount of success with "I Got Him." Besides that, I'm involved with a youth center called the Evolution Project; it's here in Atlanta. We try to empower young people. The Georgia Health Project launced a campaign for safe-sex and I posed for that campaign.
A question homophobia campaign we have in Atlanta. I also modeled for that. Modeling is my activism.
SUPREMEWRITER: EARLIER YOU MENTIONED YOUR FATHER WAS BORN IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. WHEN PEOPLE LEARN THAT YOU'RE AN PURE BLATINO, DO YOU GET THE SHOCK REACTIONS BECAUSE OF YOUR COMPLEXION?
ANYE: Yeah. Well because the resentment I had towards my father for not doing as much in my life as much as he should have, bur for me not to recognize his heritage as part of my existence, and I guess somewhere along the line, I saw people who who chose to be bi-racial instead of African-American. Once I finally had a conversation with my father's family, it kind of changed my views of his heritage and him, and when I started owning up to it, alot of comments were 'you don't speak Spanish, and you're not a certain complexion with a certain hair texture.' I'm a human being and that's what's important.
SUPREMEWRITER: HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'RE MAKING AN IMPACT ON THE GAY COMMUNITY AND MUSIC SCENE?
ANYE: Well the community as a whole, I'm bring back Faith. Some of our leaders, the AIDS epidemic wiped out our leaders and the name of the game is to stay alive, and that's the legacy of Black people in general. I hope to bring that back. What I'm doing is nothing new. Sylvester was a man performing in Drag; never changed the pronouns of the songs he sang about men, has a Billboard charting hit in the 70's. Why that didn't happen again, I attributed that to fear in our community.
As far as the gay music scene, I bring competor to the mainstream. I thing my music is accessaable and you can hear it on the radio, and for the life of me, I don't understand. Gay folks are on the cutting edge and fashionable. Somewhere in the shuffle, some of the artist sound old.
SUPREMEWRITER: ANYE YOU BROUGHT UP A REAL INTERESTING POINT. I HEAR SOME OF THE KIDS CONTRADICTING THEMSELVES BY SAYING 'WE'RE TIRED OF SEEING THESE OLD DIVAS (MEANING THE CLASSIC R&B AND DANCE ARTISTS). WHERE ARE THE GAY RAPPERS AND SINGERS? BUT YET WHEN THEY DO PERFORM AT CLUBS, MOST OF THEM DON'T WANNA SUPPORT THEM OR THEIR MUSIC, WHILE MOST PRIDES DON'T WANNA HIRE THEM. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT?
ANYE: Well it falls to another stereotype; we are very grandy people. We're attached a value to the name brand. It has to be Whitney Houston. It has to be Debroah Cox. It has to be something that's OK with the straight world. I don't take it personally. It's up to us as Out Hip-Hop artists and Out Musicians to continue making good music and whaterver was meant to be will be for us.
SUPREMEWRITER: WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 5 TO 10 YEARS?
ANYE: The next 5 to 10 years, I see myself growing as a better person. I'm responsible for my management; I'm my own manager. We have a publicist looking into decisions. Once we network with all these Gay and Gay-friendly media outlets, networks with everyone in a good way. I think we have a media empire ready to be created.
SUPREMEWRITER: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A GAY PERSON WHO WANTS TO PURSUE A CAREER AS AN OPEN GAY ARTIST?
ANYE: I would say to let nothing and nobody to discourage you. There are gonna be alot nan-sayers. Do not count yourself out; there will be doors shutting on their own and you don't need to shut those doors. Because I'm singing about guys, alot of people aren't gonna want to hear that and that's true, but most of my support, especially financially is heterosexual. Don't count yourself out.