Lashell Griffin: Encouraged

Oprah, Barack Obama and Alicia Keys have each witnessed R&B/inspirational recording artist Lashell Griffin live. As a result of powerful vocals and soul stirring lyrics, Griffin won Oprah Winfrey’s national pop star challenge and has since become a highly sought after artist – even American Idol’s Simon Cowell has given the Detroit native his stamp of approval.

Speaking with Singersroom, the mother of five sheds light on the Spring 2009 testament to her life “Dreams Are Possible” as well as the inspiration she found in legendary performers The Clark Sisters and Aretha Franklin. Also discussing the joys of being an entertaining mom, social networking and musical integrity, Griffin allows us into her private thoughts when it comes to encouraging others including her musically inclined children who may just express their talent through Hip Hop, R&B or Gospel in the future.

Singersroom: How does it feel to be promoting the new album “Dreams Are Possible?”

Lashell Griffin: It feels amazing. I like to describe it as having the perfect pair of old jeans that are just comfortable to wear and your just living life…comfortably. I’m loving it.

Singersroom: As far as inspiration, what went through your mind when it was time to put records for this album together?

Lashell Griffin: My husband and I, Lee Griffin who’s also my manager, we thought about how important it is to encourage people to believe in their dreams and having five kids we definitely share that with them as often as we can. So we just wanted to encourage people. The songs really fit everything that you could be going through. It could be good days or bad days but, just hold on and believe in yourself, believe in the dream and greatness will come to you.

Singersroom: That is definitely true, especially during these trying times. Now I understand that your family is involved in your entire musical effort.

Lashell Griffin: Yes, our two older sons Lee the third and Rafiel, they wrote on the project and they’re also singing on it. We wanted to bring a young sound to it. Something that would really reach the young people out there and we definitely wanted to introduce them to the music world and so with them being a part of it, it really was a present to me. We’ve always been a close family and so just being able to keep closer to one another just really excited me to know that our kids have their minds, you know, on the right page and actually are living their dreams.

Singersroom: Sometimes Detroit is negatively portrayed in the media because of the auto industry, crime and other economic woes. One thing that Detroit has always been though, is soulful. Do you attribute any of your experience and/or inspiration to fellow Detroit artists like Aretha Franklin and The Clark Sisters?

Lashell Griffin: What I think about when it comes to the artists you just mentioned is that they started with nothing and they grew into where they are now. But it came with hard work and determination. So I look at that and take note and I really admire all of them. There are so many more that have gone unmentioned but I look at how hard they’ve worked and where it’s gotten them and that encouraged me to press on.

It doesn’t matter, based on where you come from, you can come from the worse side of the block but if you’re determined to succeed you’re background should not dictate where you’re headed. You’re neighborhood and the color of your skin or the city that you live in should never dictate your success. We have definitely worked hard to not let that happen or to let anything else dictate success.

Singersroom: The thing I love about gospel and inspirational music is that it always promotes that light at the end of the tunnel. Essentially that no matter what is going on at the moment, everything will be alright. Would you agree?

Lashell Griffin: Yes I do. Also to know that even though we say “it’s going to be alright at the end of the day,” it may not physically be visible at the end of the day but if you concentrate and really put your trust in the Lord, just let all of the situation that you’re dealing with just roll off like water on a doves back. Just concentrate on “okay it could be worse” or “it’s not going to do me any good to continue to worry about it”– it’s not going to change anything. If you think positively and believe that it is going to be better then eventually you will get to that. Music is definitely a part of encouraging and that light at the end of the tunnel as you say.

Singersroom: Performing for high profile figures including now President Barack Obama comes with some degree of pressure. How do you stay grounded?

Lashell Griffin: We definitely pray before we do any type of shows and that just brings everyone on one accord because you’re coming from different areas in your life and you’re dealing with different things throughout the day. When it’s all said and done you want to be focused, so that prayer definitely does help and conditions your mind to be on one accord with your fellow brother or sister who’s also on the team with you. It’s a team. It’s always teamwork. There is nothing that gets done without that prayer, because that sets the atmosphere.

Singersroom: As a mom, some may not know, but your family is behind you 100%. Is it sometimes hard to manage the business and family life?

Lashell Griffin: When we first started it was hard because I was so used to being at home and volunteering in the schools, running errands, and coming home to clean and cook and things like that. As the years progressed and they got a little older we were able to bring them with us and involve them.

One of the things our pastor said is “a family that prays together and plays together…stays together” and so we not only do business, we have fun as well, that helps us to work and get things done together.

Singersroom: Now that you’ve seen the inside of the business. If your daughter or son came to you and said “Mom, I want to become a Hip Hop artist or sing professionally,” how would you handle it or have you handled that already?

Lashell Griffin: We have yes. Our two oldest sons, they love music, they love writing and they’re heavy into poetry. Our youngest daughter is as well. She has a gorgeous voice that I say is so mature for her age since she’s only 14. So we know it’s inevitable that they will be in the industry but one of the things that we encourage them to do is to not only get into to something behind the mic but get in the books and understand your craft. You have to know exactly what it takes to be successful and know the behind the scenes, know the engineering, producing knowledge and writing and what it takes to legalize it and make sure that it’s yours and only yours. Understanding contracts and also to make sure that the music you sing is positive music… something that everyone can listen to and no one has to turn the radio off or down. We encourage them to be comfortable in your own skin but to let what we taught you come out.

Singersroom: With this album you went more so indie or independent, how did that come about?

Lashell Griffin: It was basically connections and annoying certain people. It just really dropped in our laps. We have a relationship with one of the Walmart managers down in North Carolina and from that I sang at a couple stores and the supply or handle men that come in to the store at the time brought in the music and so we met a young lady who was just a firecracker … she’s just so beautiful and just with a big heart. She told me one day, she said “you need to record your own album independently. It’s not going to cost you as much as you think.” At the time we didn’t think anything of it but later sat down, discussed it and decided “lets go for this” because it’s something that we found would be beneficial not just for us but, for our children and also for the upcoming artist coming out. We (my husband and I) want to have a company that represents morals and integrity and the fact that your word is your bond. What better way to operate than to do it ourselves.

Singersroom: Now with your album out, are you looking for talent?

Lashell Griffin: We’re still learning everything it takes to run a record label. It’s so important to know as much as possible. We believe that maybe within a year or two we’ll be in a position to invite other artists to come in. We want to set a new atmosphere and we want to make sure that artists actually get paid for the work that they do and not withhold from them because sometimes that’s what happens and the artists are left fending for themselves or in debt because they thought one thing and it turned out to be another. So we’re positioning ourselves to be that successful record label that will help and bring other people into it so they can also benefit as well.

Singersroom: With “Dreams Are Possible” in stores, what is next for you. Will you be touring this summer ?

Lashell Griffin: Yes, another door opened for me to go and sing in Liberia. I’m excited about that and that particular event will hold 30,000 people in the arena.

Singersroom: That will be rewarding. Lastly, how can people keep up with you. Have you jumped on Twitter ?

Lashell Griffin: (Laughs) No I haven’t jumped on Twitter. I do have a Facebook account. It’s so funny because I’m the old school person in the house. I don’t even have a cellphone, because every time I get one I wind up giving it away to one of my kids because they use theirs so much. I’ll stick with Facebook for now, I may dive into Twitter later. Facebook is a step up for me because I do like to go on the internet and read up on things. When I do get on facebook it is for a good 30-45 minutes to see what is going on with the fellow facebookers. My kids are proud of me too. They say “yeah mom you’ve stepped it up…you need to go a little further but you stepped it up.”
—— By: Interview By Njai Joszor

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