I’m SassyBlack: meet the artist
Here, the soul singer writes about her method for making beats and how music has cultivated confidence in her life.
It took me a long time to call myself an artist. I didn’t think I was a lot of things—I didn’t think I was a musician, I didn’t think I was a composer, or an arranger, or a producer. It took me years to own all my identities—to become “SassyBlack.”
The process of becoming is a lot like songwriting. Writing a song is trial and error; it’s moments of exasperation, but also of epiphany. That makes the most gratifying thing about writing a song knowing you made something from nothing. It’s all yours.
When I make a song, I typically start with a drum pattern because drum patterns have always been the hardest part, but also because the drum pattern is like your heartbeat. You lay that down as the foundation.
Next, I’ll start singing over the drum pattern and record my voice. It’s pretty organic—I just try to feel it out. Your voice is an expression of your heartbeat, and learning to find your voice isn’t easy. Sometimes I jump into the track too soon. Sometimes I can’t match the melody and the chords. But at the end of the day, I still have the confidence to speak up, to speak my truth—to sing.
In my journey, my voice has been my greatest asset. I book my own shows, negotiate my own contracts, and manage my own team. My heartbeat drives me, but my voice allows me to advocate for myself and chase after my goals.
After I lay down the vocals, I’ll either add in a bass line or some synth keys. I’m constantly experimenting—I try not to hold onto anything too tightly. I toy around until I create some kind of groove, and I start to build transitions. This part of songwriting is the most like the day-to-day grind, and it’s where you start to see the magic happen—the end result of your heart and your voice making change in your life.
Then there’s the finished song. There’s nothing quite like that moment. A song always comes from your spirit and your soul. It’s always precious, because it’s an expression of you. The satisfaction you get from the end product is what builds your confidence and drives you forward.
Now that I’ve stepped fully into my identity as an artist, I’ve never been more confident in myself. And I love the struggle—the song—that’s allowed me to become this; the struggle that’s allowed me to gain confidence in myself and assert myself. To say: I am an artist. I am a musician. I am a composer, an arranger, a producer. I am SassyBlack.