Castella: Behind the Beats
Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week, an extended interview with Castella.
You hit the Smooth Jazz scene this year! … Tell us about your musical life prior to Smooth Jazz.
I started singing in church when I was about seven years old and have been doing so ever since. I have sang at weddings, funerals, banquets, in plays and pretty much anywhere anyone would ask me to. Just before COVID hit, I had begun to get out and sing jazz and the blues at local spots like the Queen Mary, Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge, The Mixx, Sofitel, La Louisiane, The French Quarter and Bell’s Blues Workshop. I had started making my rounds with friends like Bill Grisolia and Lester Lands who are both big in the blues genre.
How did you find yourself in the smooth jazz genre? Planned?
I released my first EP – “Thinking About You” in August 2019 and I was not sure what to do with it. One day I stumbled upon a Facebook post of a good friend, who was in a photo with Willie Bradley. I thought to myself, he looks friendly, let’s reach out and ask him. I had no idea that Mr. Bradley was a national recording artist!! To my surprise, he responded! He suggested I contact Jason Gorov. Jason suggested I take “No Ordinary Love” to radio. I believe it was in God’s plan for me to be right where I am, in smooth jazz.
Tell about the singers who inspire you?
Certainly, gospel music inspires me – choirs and groups – I loved Darryl Coley. I love harmonies and music with a spiritual meaning. To harness all the power in my voice, I turned to Sarah Vaughn mostly to help me learn how to control it. I am also inspired by singers like Phyllis Hyman, Angela Bofill, Rachelle Ferrell, Dianne Reeves, Lisa Fischer, Gladys Knight, Regina Belle, Angela Winbush, Mikki Howard, Billie Holiday, Minnie Riperton, Karen Carpenter and many more! I also love bands and groups like Earth, Wind and Fire, Switch, New Birth, Steely Dan, America, The Emotions and Sister Sledge! My all-time favorite song is Sailing by Christopher Cross, he inspires me too!
Tell us about your songwriting experience.
Something has to inspire me… A lot of my ideas come to me in the shower. The melodies, the words… the thoughts. But I can also be inspired by things like, a drink, a Mojito for example (smile). I have found that I write best when it is quiet. I love to write about love, empowerment, faith and praise. I wrote a “Welcome” song for my church which was sung every Sunday until the pandemic shut us down. The song came to me all at once while I was in an important meeting at work. I jotted down the lyrics and hummed the melody the entire meeting until I could rush outside and record it all! Sometimes a melody first, sometimes just lyrics and other times I’ll get a full-on song all at once and it takes over everything!
What would be your dream collaboration? … Anyone living or not?
My dream collaboration would be with Luther Vandross. My dream growing up was to be one of his backup singers. To have had an opportunity to be in a creative space with him?! OMG! I think we would have come up with something incredible! I would always say, if I could be doing anything with my life right now, I would be singing backup for Luther Vandross and taking pictures.
How has it been to launch your smooth jazz career, during COVID-19 and being a mom of three?
The launch of my smooth jazz career has actually been one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of my life. From being discovered at a session by Darryl Swann to writing my songs and finding creative partners in Corey Stampley and Jeff Canady. The pandemic slowed the world down just enough to where people like my producer Jeff Canady had time for me, when otherwise, he probably would not have. As for being a mom of three – those three kids have been such a tremendous help to me on this pursuit. They have together become Castella Music! My oldest son is my Graphic Designer, my middle son is my Videographer and my youngest, my daughter, is my Manager/Photographer. They are my little team, and I am truly grateful for their assistance and support.
I’m releasing a new single “Mojito" a sexy, melodic smooth groove, rich with body, volume and sweetness. Co-written with Grammy award winning, multi platinum producer Darryl Swann, this record reflects studio magic. Indulging a vocal collage with sensational jazz vocalist Charlotte A. Pope along with the unique stylings of music producer Corey Stampley, this extra special collaboration deserves a release all it’s own. So lift up your Mojitos and let’s get this long awaited party started!