I believe that as listeners and lovers of music, we look for lyrics or even just a vibe that we can relate to our inner being – whether consciously or sub-consciously. There are those artists that come along and their authenticity shines through and at some point, they become those go-to artists when we’re feeling some type of way. It may not be one particular song – it could just be their overall vibe over record that feeds what needs to be fed at the right time.
It was about two years ago when I randomly discovered the music of Cleveland native, Conya Doss. Scrolling through Youtube searching for new music and listening to oldies but goodies, a lot of times I’m intrigued by a song’s title. When I came across Conya, it was the title “Coffee” from her 2001 debut A Poem About Ms. Doss, that caught my attention. Her vocals were smooth with rich lyricism and for the next 20 minutes or so; I anxiously traveled from track to track, to experience more of her melodic storytelling.
Not knowing much about the person, her artistry instantly sparked something where the tone and delivery just felt right.
Six albums in, with her latest being “A Pocketful of Purpose”, Conya’s talent is pure and her heart exudes a giving and nurturing nature. All of which contribute to her way with words and working her lyricism into song. As a mother, educator, philanthropist, and artist, Ms. Doss’s journey is on fire! And of course, with all of the titles she holds , she’s learning to work “smarter and not harder.”
“I draw from my own experience. However, I talk to a lot of people and I’m a people watcher,” she shares while stuck in Cleveland traffic. “I observe a lot. The concepts and my creative side, I bring together all those different aspects and that’s when I come up with the lyrics and everything. In addition to that, I have a wonderful team that I work with, so everything pretty much just crashes very well.”
Though admittedly, Cleveland is a work in progress on the music scene, it hasn’t stopped Conya Doss’s hustle and drive. She’s fairly well-known and tours all over the world. Most recently, the alto-falsetto songstress earned three nominations for SoulTracks Readers Choice Awards- inclusive of “Female Vocalist of the Year”, “Independent Album of the Year”, and “Song of the Year” for the hit single, ‘Don’t Change.’
Get a dose of Ms. Doss below!
With this current album, Pocketful of Purpose, where did the title come from and what does it mean to you?
Growing up music has always been my refuge and I think when I listened to Stevie Wonder, Sade, Donny Hathaway, all those people, their lyrics and movement of music, no matter what kind of mood I was in, it put me in a certain place and it served a purpose for me. At whatever time I was going through something in my life, it was necessary.
When I was working on this particular project, that’s when I had a moment, I really thought it through and was like, ‘when I write this song, I really want to make sure that somebody can relate to this.’ It’s ok for someone who’s going through whatever to listen and say okay this is serving me a purpose now because I need to hear it. I’m feeling this kind of way right now and I need to listen to it. Every song on there, it was written with purpose and I’m just hoping that it reaches who it needs to reach and whatever purpose it serves for them.
There is a narrative that you offer with your music and you really touch on narrative and perspective with your single and video, Don’t Change. With that, there are so many messages offered both lyrically and visually. How was the concept conceived and what pushed you to take it to that level?
There were so many different concepts and scenarios and I was like, well, this is what I’m seeing. This is what inspires me to write these songs. When I have a conversation with a young lady who tells me, her significant other at the time, was falling out on his luck. He was a hard worker, really trying to do the right thing and she would just down him – saying well, you don’t have a job now, you’re laid off so what can he do for me?’ And I was like, wow, I was really offended for him. We never know what’s going to take place in life where we fall on a hardship. What do you want him to do – go out there and start slangin’? Love him unconditionally. And then there are so many students that I work with, young girls, and I had one girl say as soon as I get my first 50 -thousand dollars, I’m going to get a nose job. I’ve never seen so many issues with self-imagery and it starts really young. That’s how that concept came.
In a musical era, it’s so hard to find an artist where you can feel that true connection, an authentic artistry type of deal, and I think as listeners we look for that. Do you ever find it challenging when it comes to conformity and providing music that catches mainstream attention?
I don’t personally have a problem with it per say, it’s just that other people, to me, have a problem with conforming and I appreciate all aspects of music but, I don’t create music and say ‘oh, I want this to be played here and this to be played there…”. I create what I feel at the time and I think that’s where I’m coming from. I don’t find it difficult coming from that end. I think that other people try to put you in a box. Everything nowadays, and I don’t mean to pop anybody’s bubble, but it’s so formulated. It’s such cookie-cutter and I’ve never been that.
I know that you have a heavy background in education and teaching special needs students, how do you incorporate that with the artistry of Conya Doss?
I just think any form of art, is a wonderful way to connect with the children. And I love music. Music is so universal and if you can’t reach them any other way, I guarantee you music is going to gain their attention. Just coming up with those approaches. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, (laughs), my former principal, but you know, I had a lot of tough kids and he’d just be like ‘how’d you do it, how’d you work with that group?’ It’s not hard, you just have to make a connection and music, for me, is that connection. Every day I have a student showing me some of their poetry or music, if they say they can sing, then I’ll talk about singing. But that’s what always works for me. I just think that you have to be able to introduce an art form.
Combining your passion for students and music, there are times where artists/creators use their art as a platform to say something important, what would you say is your message as an artist, woman, and educator?
Most situations, it is so necessary to be very conscientious as to what’s happening out there. As an educator, I’m always conscientious as to what kind of music I’m writing – though the kids know that I’m human, there’s going to be a lot of situations that everybody goes through so at that point, I definitely have trials and tribulations, that’s part of my reality but I have to make sure that my delivery is tasteful to where I’m not embarrassed to have one of my kids say, ‘oh I was at the library and we were listening to your record” and I’m like ‘Oooh I hope they didn’t hear that song.” So I think it’s very important.
Music is her refuge. Her glory, exist in the caring for others and encouraging youth to travel and remain on the right path. “Anything that I can share to empower them and help guide them in the right direction into making that decision. Next month, I’ll be doing a fundraiser for kids that are homeless and we’re trying to raise enough money to buy them toys for Christmas and I’m very proud of that because I feel that my son is very fortunate and there’s so many people that aren’t as fortunate. I want to do my part.”
There is no doubt that Conya Doss is doing just that, on and off the stage.
Vibe with Conya at, www.conyadoss.com.
Check out Conya’s award-nominated single “Don’t Change”