With a powerhouse voice and a personality to match, Courtni is on her way to greatness. As she continuously works on her craft, we spend a little time with her to get to know her a little better and get familiar with her journey with music thus far.
Photo by: Yannick Reid (@thetherapistsol)
Put your playlist on shuffle and give me the first five selections. Let’s see what you got.
- Natty Never Get Weary – Culture
- Novacane – Frank Ocean
- Been So Long – Anita Baker
- Never Too Much – Luther Vandross
- I Used To Love H.E.R – Common
Why do you sing?
Courtni: I sing because that’s me being in touch with my truest self, being in touch with God. This is how I give back to myself, in terms of encouraging and lifting up myself. There are times when I’m so so sad and once I start singing to myself, I start to feel better. I also sing because it brings joy to others and I think that that is a part of what life is all about, being of service to each other. So when I sing, write and compose stuff, that’s me showing the God in myself.
You were born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica (second capital city) but you made the trod to Kingston for school. What was that transition like for you?
The transition was very interesting. I think Kingston was very good for me in many ways because I’m from a sheltered, slightly over-protective home. So, being in Kingston was sort of a confidence boost because I was able to do things my way. especially when it came to music. Just the environment that I was in with all the underground artistes, they were very accepting of me. They also gave me a confidence boost because they believed in me, sometimes even more than myself (smirks)
When I first left Mobay to come to Kingston to go to UWI in 2014 there wasn’t really much of a music scene in Mobay at the time to be honest. Ironically, I actually started to get to know and link with artistes from Mobay when I moved to Kingston and that’s the power of social media. That transition was nothing but great for me and I’m forever grateful for it.
So after a while at the University of the West Indies (UWI, Mona) you recently decided to make the switch to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Why did you decide to make the switch and how has it been going so far?
To be very honest, the interest that I have in music is so huge that anything else pales in comparison therefore going to university for anything other than music wasn’t really an attractive option but at the time it was the only option. My parents wanted me to have a safety blanket for when I leave school before the career really kick off. I’ve always had an interest in the entertainment industry so at UWI I was doing Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management but to be honest, mi anuh one big fan of school itself and the requirements for that major so I was falling behind on assignments and after a while it just really didn’t make sense to continue anymore.
The switch to Edna was a breath of fresh air, in terms of the environment. One thing with the environment at Edna, you never feel alone. Whether it is close friends or some random classmate, the support is always there. It’s a mantra that we have over there, we are always looking out for each other. Now as it pertains to the School of Music as a collective, their ears are AMAZING (laughs) So like during a performance when you crack and you try to cover it up with some pretty runs here and there and think you get away with it, noooooo they heard THAT. They heard you loud and clear (laughs). So it’s amazing. I have that ability as well, to hear the tiny details when people are performing so it’s good to be around similar people. It’s also amazing to see the amount of raw talent that is there. Everyone is walking around with a fire burning inside. It’s been a beautiful experience thus far, the people are what makes it worthwhile.
Photo by: Tara Plummer (@_tvrv)
I’ve seen you perform a couple times and it is intriguing to me how comfortable you seem on stage. Let’s go into your background as a performer.
I’ve been performing on stage since around the age of 7. I used to dance a lot as well. Actually, I was dancing even before I knew I could sing, I was a part of my school’s dance team and choir and we participated in the cultural school competition put on by JCDC (Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) My mother (Karen Smith) is a singer and BIG performer as well so I have learnt a lot from her. I have watched her all my life and she really knows how to rock a crowd. Not just saying that because she a mi mada (laughs) So, a lot of times when I’m on stage, I’m lowkey just mimicking her. There is that and also just gaining experience and confidence over the years and learning from my mistakes as well. I also watch and learn from them as well. One of my faves is Beyoncé of course *fangirls*
You released your first single, ‘Broke My Heart’ last year. Give me some insight into the recording process for that song.
Shawn J. Smith (@shvwnjsmith) who produced the track sent me the beat and at the time it was pretty convenient because I was going through a little heartbreak so I wrote that song. I had that song in my arsenal and after awhile I told myself that is time to record and different people were telling me that I need to release that song. I did a rough recording of the song first then listened to it over and over again just to get used to hearing my voice on a record. Then I recorded it again and added in the harmonies, runs and background vocals then I sent it to an engineer in Mobay who mixed it. When I heard the final thing, I was like, “YES! this is it!” I was a bit apprehensive to release it because I was wondering if people would actually like it but I’ve been getting some good feedback for it thus far.
Listen to ‘Broke My Heart’ here:
What should people look out for from you this year?
Weeeelllll you know mans don’t want to give it all away but I am currently putting an EP together. You can look out for that later down in the year or early next year. Right now I just want to focus on putting out singles and letting people get used to my sound and versatility. The singing is there but I also love toasting. So you can look out for that.
In closing, what message would you like to leave with the people?
Life can be beautiful when you choose to see the beauty in things around you. Keep your head up. Just know that you’re a star. This life was given to you for you to continuously work on yourself and be the best you that you can be. Mi know it hard especially for black people but try, try, try and try again. You’re all beautiful and I looooove you. (laughs)
Whoo! and with that great message brings an end to the nice vibe with Courtni. Be sure to keep up with her along this musical journey. New music soooon forward.
Give thanks for reading. Bless up.