Why Madam CJ No Longer Worries About Being “Good Enough”

Madam CJ‘s voice has the playful sexyness of Alicia Keys in “You Don’t Know My Name.” An artist who’s opened for India Arie and Janelle Monae, her voice doubles up for appearances such as with Atlanta radio station V-103’s Wanda Smith.

“The play was called Wanda Smith and Friends. I got to show my comedic chops in the V103 morning show co-host’s holiday stage play,” she says.

On April 19, get ready to catch her live at Kat’s Cafe for the “Le Courtesan et Coquettes Noirs Cabaret.”


How did your move to Atlanta influence your music?

My move to Atlanta is what sparked my interest in music. When I decided that I was actually going to make the move, it was the fact that the industry was doing so well here. Also, it wasn’t far from my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, so it was a no brainer for me.

Did you have to come out of your shell when you began writing songs?

Lyrically, I have never been in a shell. LOL! I don’t have hangups about expressing myself that way. My thing was how would I sing it, would my voice be “good enough?” I came out of my shell when I found my voice and how I wanted to deliver my songs. That JUST happened in 2011. LOL!!

Do you ever just go out and unexpectedly bump into a producer or other musician who becomes a regular collaborator?

Not really. Not yet, anyway. I’m very selective about collaborations. We must be on the same page in regards to collaborations. Time management is very important to me and so is dealing with an artist who also has a keen business mind.


When you perform with artists like Janelle Monae, what observations do you see, from pre-performance quirks to work methods?

The last time I performed with Janelle, I noticed how her team worked together like a well oiled machine and how super supportive they were to us before, when we were on stage and after. It was very inspiring. I actually got a chance to hear her warming up singing a chorus of “Cold War” flawlessly and effortlessly. It was beautiful.

Have you tried doing what other people do, and does it work when you record or perform?

I have been inspired by people who I respect as business people. Totally. Also, I do have one friend, Rahbi, that is a PHENOMENAL vocalist. I just asked him for vocal advice last week. I also took an artisan polishing course from my longtime inspiration and mentor, Joi Gilliam. It did wonders for my act. I’m so grateful for them.

Do you think it is best to take every day at a time to find inspiration or go out looking for it…or both?

Inspiration hits me whenever! LOL! I’ve had MONTHS of not being inspired and then, wham, someone pisses me off, and I’m really inspired! That actually just happened back in December! A new production was born out of my being pissed off.

All right! So what are you eventually wearing for your Grammy dress when it happens?

I am a member of the recording academy, so when I go to the Grammys next year, I will be wearing Onion by Whitney Mero.


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