[EXCLUSIVE] Antonique Smith Talks First Grammy, Independent Freedom, Love, Staying Humble, More

Singer, songwriter, and actress Antonique Smith captured the world when she played R&B artist Faith in the 2009 film, Notorious. Viewers were impressed with Smith's talents on the big screen but most importantly her incredible vocals, which left some fans speechless.

Antonique continued to take the world by surprise when she released the smash single, "Hold Up Wait a Minute (Woo Woo)." The Grammy nominated song became an anthem for everyone who was ready to take a stand in their life or was tired of accepting mediocre in their relationship.

Singersroom conversed with the down to earth vocalist about the single, her debut album, her role as Faith in Notorious, her Kickstarter campaign, and more.

Check out our exclusive interview!

Concept behind the single, "Hold Up Wait a Minute (Woo Woo)": It's an empowerment, liberation song about whatever is wrong in your situation; it can be really big or small. This song is the anthem for you to make change. And obviously, this song applies to relationships but my personal one that affected me the most was the guy I was dating was using my money to go see another woman. So, it was hold up wait a minute exactly. We just wanted to send a message to help people keep their power and change from whatever situation they may be going through. Mona Scott played the song on 'Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta' and Rasheeda was on the treadmill trying to get her mind right and was just doing her. Sometimes we need that extra push while we're on the treadmill. 'Hold Up Wait A Minute' is just an empowering record and it's just a blessing to hear how people are responding to the message.

Musical Composition for the single: Actually, the music came first, me and my manager Darryl Farmer produced the song. We were on the airplane when he heard the track, and he was trying to decide how we should promote it because it has a James Brown, Aretha Franklin feel, but also today's sound to it as well. I said it sounds good but I didn't hear it the way he heard it. A few weeks later when we were working on the track, I was like, 'Oh my God,' because the sound was different from when I first heard it. Then we started working on different ideas for melodies and the song developed from there.

First Grammy Nomination: This was funny! I was in LA, and it was 11am because that was the time in California. The Grammys released the list on everyone who was nominated, and I was trying to find the list. I was trying to refresh the Grammys page and it wasn't working. It kept showing me last years and the year before and I started freaking out. I was like 'I can be on this list, and I don't even know it'. So then I started browsing on Twitter, and I swear to you it was completely innocent but when I get to the Twitter feed, I see congratulations on your Grammy nomination. I started freaking out and screaming because it was unbelievable and unreal. And what's so crazy about it is I'm an independent artist and to have your first single nominated for a Grammy, that's a blessing.

'Notorious' Movie Being a Career Stepping Stone: The movie helped absolutely, but some people thought I was lip syncing because I was trying to get my voice to sound like Faith as much I could. I wasn't trying to be like me; I was trying to sound like her because that was the point. So people didn't get to hear tone voice, you know, the way I do it, and they didn't really see me as a singer. They saw me play a singer in that light, the same way Jamie Foxx did Ray. We really didn't see it in that light before the movie; another example is Jennifer Lopez after she played Selena. But the movie made people interested in what I did sound like rather than 'oh, she's just an actress, who cares, I'm not really listening'. It was like, 'let me hear what she sounds like', so I do think it made that transition. For the most part, it's hard for an actress to become a singer. That's like Denzel trying to put out an album and as much as we love Denzel, it might be weird. We don't associate Denzel with music, and that's what happens to most actors.


Touring: I first have the Tom Joyner cruise, and that's going to be fun. And then touring with Anthony Hamilton after the cruise.

Using Kickstarter For Debut Album: We're trying to find time to finish the album, but I have a real busy schedule. Hopefully, I will be able to call you back with another smash hit in the meantime. You can never have too many smash singles. We used Kickstarter because we wanted the album to be pure. A lot of times when record labels are putting up most of the money, they want to be in control. They want to be in control of the feel, the sound, just everything. But when you have a viewpoint, honestly, they will say I sing too good. So back to what I was saying, when you have a viewpoint, and you have a gift that you don't want to dilute, sometimes you have to do it another way. Kickstarter was the way to keep the purity and to be able to sing the way I want to sing. Labels frown upon the vocals, but people are appreciating my voice. I just wanted to give the purity of what I do to the people and Kickstarter was the way. People supported it upfront which is amazing. $55,000 in 30 days and that was way before Kickstarter was big as what it is now. We did in 2012 before people really knew what it was so it was a blessing to have a successful campaign. We went from Kickstarter to the Grammys.

Expectations for the First Album: The album is called, 'Love is Everything.' Honestly, in my humble opinion, I believe that if there were more love in this world, a lot of the bad things we face wouldn't exist. It can be prevented if there's more love. I just believe the world needs more love. Love is everything and it talks about the experiences of love. 'Hold Wait Up A Minute' is self-love, taking your power back. Getting your power back, and respect is a part of loving yourself. I have a song called "Higher," and sometimes guys are afraid to commit. When guys are afraid to commit, ladies say where is this going, how do you feel about me, or what's in the future for us and then they start to run away much faster. But, then that will help a guy look at you differently, so that's getting the love started. Then there's a song called 'Be Love,' and it's about how we all want to be loved and just wanting to love on somebody. Then we have one of those records that we have to cry out our pain because of love. Sometimes the relationship doesn't work, and you have to love them from a distance. We're still working on wrapping everything up for the first anthem.

Being Successful as an Independent Artist: Whose to say I would be out right now if I was signed to a major label? They might tweak it and say let's put you out next year. I'm just grateful to be out right now and be all over the place, touching people and looking into people's eyes. I'm singing for the people and bonding with them. I'm spreading a message that will hopefully change their lives by making them think or help them make better decisions. I just want to touch people so I probably wouldn't be doing it if I was signed to a major label. It's not guaranteed, so I think having the power to just do it on our schedule and doing it message wise, I think there's no doubt that this is the way to go. God bless the labels, but that wasn't my route.

More Acting Roles: I was offered a few roles here and there but I have to figure out what fits my schedule. It has to be short; it can't be a long-term project right now, but I love acting. It's something that I am trying to fit it in and find the right project. I have a couple of projects being offered to me but we are just trying to see what makes sense. Right now, we are establishing my brand, and when you're an actor, there are certain roles that have to fit well with your image. You have to have a certain collectiveness when you're trying to find a role that's right for you. When it's time for me to put my acting hat back on, I'm going for an Oscar; I might play a crackhead. I have my singer hat on right now so those are things that we are considering right now. I would love to be on Empire because those are things that I can see myself doing right now.

Staying Humble in a Cut-Throat Music Business: That is one of the most disappointing things about the business, and it still gets me sometimes. I sometimes believe people when they say stuff and they don't mean it. I guess I'm naive in that way; I'm from East Orange, New Jersey, I have a big loving family and they keep me grounded. Honestly, I don't think I would ever be that crooked because I don't think it's in me. I got a special needs sister, who is my heart, and she doesn't care about what I'm doing. All she cares about is me coming and having slumber parties or watching Disney with her. The things that matter to me is so real; it's not about money, fame, and all of those things. I don't see myself ever changing to someone that is so crooked and cruel.

Another thing that keeps me humble is that I didn't create this gift, God gave me this gift, and I am here to share it, so I can't really take credit for it. When you start to take credit for the gift that God gave you, that' when you start to lose the grounding. I'm just so grateful that He chose me to share this gift with people. You watch American Idol, the Voice; you watch all of these shows, and you see how many people all over the world want to sing, and a lot of them can not and thank you Jesus that I can. I'm just so grateful and happy. I just want to stay in that place.