Meet the stars on the rise in Atlanta’s music industry breaking the mold one release at a time. You heard it here first: These are the ones to watch.
Photo by CapturedByQue
How did you get started in music? I’ve been singing since I was 3 years old. I began writing (unfinished) songs around age 9. While in high school, one of my friends had me sing a hook on his song—that was my first time recording in a studio. It’s fair to say the passion for music has always been there, however, I didn’t start taking it seriously until about 2017.
How would you describe your genre of music? I would describe my musical genre as traditional R&B. There’s definitely a modern feel to it, but it’s also heavily influenced by the ’90s sound.
When and how did you get your start professionally? I began working with a producer locally and recorded several tracks, however, there were two that stuck out to listeners when played on social media. That led me to drop another track called ‘Slow Down,’ which turned out to be the song that got people from various places paying attention.
Where are you currently in your career? I am currently an unsigned, independent artist. I’m truly enjoying this journey and learning more and more every day, but you never know what the future holds.
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song I’ve ever recorded is ‘Stuck (In This Moment).’ It’s such a vibe and makes you feel so vulnerable.
Biggest goal for your career? My biggest goal for my career is to songwrite for top artists in the music industry. Songwriting is my true passion.
Any recent releases? My most recent release was in late August 2021. The project is titled Unlinkable and is available on all major streaming platforms. This five-track EP was a reflection of my love life while navigating life in a new city.
Anything you’re working on now you can tease? I’m currently working on more music. I want to take my time with this one, so there won’t be any set release date, however, this project will be a more evolved sound. @annashelay
Photo by Banova
How did you get started in music? I started singing and writing music when I was 6 years old. I grew up singing in choirs and loved being in the dance studio any chance I could get. Performing in general has always felt like my safe space. I was signed to a professional dance agency at the age of 8 and have been dancing and singing since. Expressing myself through music is what has made the most sense to me in this life from a really young age, so I’m beyond blessed to be living out my dreams and passions as a female musician.
How would you describe your genre of music? I would describe my genre as mostly pop with hints of R&B. I’m inspired by and listen to both genres, so will always find ways to blend and incorporate both of them into my sound.
When and how did you get your start professionally? I released my first single in May 2021, working with Grammy Award-winning engineer Jeremiah Adkins, songwriter and vocal producer Amore Jones, and Eks for production. We have such a great ebb and flow, and I’ve now created five songs with all of them. I also worked with Grammy-nominated Pierre Medor on two of my singles, ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Divine.’ I’m so grateful to have found an amazing team to put out music with professionally.
Where are you currently in your career? Currently in my career, I am eight months in and enjoying every single second. I write a new song every day and am constantly creating. I’m speaking with a booking agent, and, as of right now, I am rehearsing for upcoming performances. I’m so excited to get out on the stage and perform my music!
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song I’ve ever done is a tie between ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘way i,’ my latest single. Both make me want to dance in different ways and really bring out the dancer in me.
Moment that changed your career the most thus far? I’ll never forget when I got asked to perform at Atlanta Pride last year on my 20th birthday! As an LGBTQ+ artist, that meant so much to me, especially since I’ve been attending Atlanta Pride since I was 16 years old. I was ecstatic to perform, but COVID-19 protocols ended up canceling the festival for 2021. I will be performing there this year though!
Any recent releases? Yes! My most recent release is a song called ‘way i.’ It’s a vibey R&B track for when you need to get in the mood, light candles and lounge, or simply connect to the relatable, sensual message of desire and longing for more in a relationship.
Anything you’re working on now you can tease? I’m currently working on my next single, which is a ballad. I’m so thrilled to put this next song out because I’ve never done an emotional song before. It’s a heartbreak song, so get the tissues ready. @sophiadashing
Photo by Mr. Watson Photography
How did you get started in music? I got started in the music business producing my first record for Joyce [Irby] at 16 years old. And then by the time I was 18 and 19, I was doing Another Bad Creation and Boyz ll Men, and then going into TLC in my early 20s. But I really became a songwriter first before even being a record producer.
How would you describe your genre of music? My genre of music has been primarily pop. I’ve always liked alternative music mixed with R&B mixed with hip-hop. I think I was one of the first producers to kind of take a span of doing a bunch of different types of music. I was really influenced a lot by the U.K. and now Rogers and people who were doing crossover music.
When and how did you get your start professionally? I got my professional business start when I started Rowdy Records in ’92 and had a joint venture with Arista Recording and my first staff in New York.
Where are you currently in your career? I’m currently in a place where I’ve been in the Songwriters Hall of Fame; I’ve won Grammys; I have Rowdy Records and I have Dallas Austin Distribution, which is a DIY distribution company where you load up your music at home and we distribute to over 200 platforms. I also have DAD NFT that we launched at the same time for music NFTs. It’s been great to keep the art.
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song I ever produced is probably ‘Unpretty.’ My favorite production was FanMail or ‘Just Like a Pill.’
Moment that changed your career the most thus far? The moment that changed my career the most was when I started to work with superstars like Michael Jackson and Madonna. It took me out of the realm of just working on records in Atlanta, and it opened the doors for me to work with so many more superstars from that point. It was definitely a life-changing moment. I just released an album called The Color of Sound. I also dropped the NFTs for The Color of Sound.
Photo by Shellie Stark
How did you get started in music? When I was younger, I would come home every day after school and sing as loud as I could on a toy karaoke machine while my family was out of the house. The machine had vocal reverb settings and you better believe it was turned all the way up. My best friend is an incredible singer-songwriter, and we would sit at her piano after school and dream about the music industry and making demos. Shortly after, I picked up a guitar and started writing songs but would rarely play them for anyone back then.
How would you describe your genre of music? Pop/soul. Most of my music is originally written on a keyboard but I always try to infuse soulful vocals with a pop-leaning production. Gotta have the right feeling!
When and how did you get your start professionally? When I was 20 years old, I still had not performed in any public setting. That year, I won a contest to sing the national anthem at an Atlanta Falcons game. It was a cappella and it was the best feeling ever. From then I started going to open mic nights around Atlanta as often as I could.
Favorite song ever produced? ‘Dreams,’ a song that was produced by Harper James in Brooklyn. The collaboration I had with Harper in the studio on this song was such a strong and natural flow. It has a peaceful and grounding element to it that I really enjoy.
Biggest goal for your career? I can say this now that I’m older: Have fun, grow and enjoy the process in whatever it is you’re doing—studio, performing, family, downtime, etc.
Moment that changed your career the most thus far? Seeing my music in an independent film was very cool, but it’s actually a moment that did not happen that changed me. I was asked to sing for John Lewis’ 80th birthday celebration at the Fox Theatre. It was canceled in March 2020 right as the pandemic was settling in. It will always be a great honor of mine that I was even asked.
Any recent releases? My most recent release, ‘YOU + ME + THE WORLD,’ is out, and you can find the music video we made out on the Salt Flats of Utah on YouTube.
Anything you’re working on now you can tease? Hoping you hear ‘Somebody Loves You’ very soon.
What’s the next thing for your career? More music. More performances. I hope to dive a little deeper and share more parts of myself in my projects. @jonathonrobins
Photo by Devon Armstrong
How did you get started in music? My father is the reason I got started in music. Being around somebody that sings all day, every day, was a no-brainer. I remember my dad said to me, ‘Son, everything is music, every word you speak is music, every sound you hear is music. Just use your imagination and trust that it is so.’ I took that to heart and never looked back since. I knew music was what I would do for the rest of my life. I feel lifeless if I’m not making music.
How would you describe your genre of music? I believe my music doesn’t belong to a particular genre, but if I have to name my music genre, I would say the genre is fusion music. My music has so many different influences and elements it is difficult to put it in a particular category. Being from Jamaica, music is our lifeline. Jamaicans thrive off of music, so for me, I get a lot of inspiration from many different genres: country, R&B, hip-hop, reggae, disco, pop, and the list goes on.
Where are you currently in your career? I am in a good place in my career. Though I am not exactly where I would like to be yet, I still love my craft and enjoy making music. To me, that’s an excellent place to be. ‘Life is a marathon, not a sprint.’ Believe it or not, I’ve pretty much had all the success that I imagined. Growing up in Jamaica as a kid, I used to daydream daily about making music and performing for people, you know, and I have done all of that, so I believe I am already successful. I have accomplished all my childhood dreams regarding music, so now it’s time to achieve more significant objectives. What are those objectives, you may ask? World tours, awards, movie placements, hearing my music playing on radios worldwide, TV shows, etc.
Biggest goal for your career? When it is all said and done, I would love to be remembered as the artist who makes people feel good, uplifted and happy.
Any recent releases? Yes, I recently released a single titled ‘Day Dreaming’ produced by Kenny Money. It’s available on all streaming platforms, and the video will be out soon.
Anything you’re working on now you can tease? I am currently working on my second studio album. It will be out on my birthday, Sept. 29. I am incredibly excited to share it with the world.
What’s the next thing for your career? More greatness, success and growth. I don’t know what the future brings, but if my optimism is any indication, a lot of big things ahead. @ogvybe
Photo by Lindsay Ann Photography
How did you get started in music? My music journey started through pageantry! I was 8 years old when I decided that I wanted to compete in pageants. I competed in talent in my third pageant and knew that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of life after I stepped on the stage.
How would you describe your genre of music? The genre of music that I am currently working on, writing and performing is country.
When and how did you get your start professionally? I started music as a career when I was around 14. I co-wrote my first song and started my own publishing company. I started playing shows each week and performing wherever I could.
Where are you currently in your career? Currently, I am writing new music and preparing to release something hopefully this year.
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song that has been produced and released would most likely be ‘Practice Girlfriend.’ I love performing and telling the story of that song. I feel that it is something that everyone can relate to.
Biggest goal for your career? My biggest goal through my career would have to be touring the world and inspiring others to follow their dreams through my music. I do music because I believe God gave me a talent, and I want to use it to inspire others.
Moment that changed your career the most thus far? The quarantine times definitely changed my career. Prior to COVID, I was working in L.A. on some pop records. Once stuck in quarantine, I spent a ton of time in my hometown and realized that the route I was on did not feel genuine. I immediately started writing country songs in my bedroom either on my own or over FaceTime with friends.
Any recent releases? My most recent release was a song called ‘Waste More Time.’
What’s the next thing for your career? Next up in my career, I will be writing in Nashville a ton with other writers and producers to create the best songs that I can possibly make. @erinkirbymusic
Photo by Bekah Topaz
Brenda Nicole Moorer
How did you get started in music? I come from a whole family of singers. My dad sings and my grandad was in a very popular group in the ’60s called The Esquires. I started singing when I was 12 in a girl group. Around 15, I started writing my own songs and getting into acting. I went to DeKalb School of the Arts for music and drama. I spent a lot of time in the Atlanta music scene, singing background and learning from the musicians and singers locally. I really credit the Atlanta music industry for cultivating me.
How would you describe your genre of music? I try to use my music to encourage others to shine their own light. I try to connect deeper, so a lot of my music maybe sounds like jazz, but if you listen to the lyrics there is a real message there. I’ve been influenced by so many styles, and I think the genres that connected with me the most and come through my music are jazz, soul and folk. But ultimately I like to just call it positive music.
When and how did you get your start professionally? When I was 13, I joined a girl group called NIA. We were Dave Hollister’s girl group and I learned how to record in a studio and perform onstage. We opened for acts like Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and Mya. It was a fun time and was my very first professional singing experience.
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song from my catalog is called ‘Find Your Way.’
Moment that changed your career the most thus far? Singing and playing Brenda Franklin in the Respect movie has been the most career-changing moment of my life so far. It has opened so many doors, and the people I’ve met and friends I’ve gained working on the film are invaluable.
Any recent releases? I’ll have new music to release in late spring! I am currently writing and playing with different sounds. I want to make something that feels good and is fun. After the past two years, we all need that. @brendanicolemoorer
Photo by Keilan Scott Photography
How did you get started in music? I started professionally acting at age 9 and began taking vocal lessons for the part I booked. A few weeks later, I visited my first recording studio, and I was hooked after that. I couldn’t get enough and don’t know if I ever will.
How would you describe your genre of music? I’d call my genre pop-soul. I’m jazz trained so that influences my sound, but over the years I’ve discovered my tempo.
Favorite song ever produced? My favorite song I’ve produced is called ‘Pretty Little Love Songs.’ I was in L.A. working with producer REALJEM, and he gave me the track after a listening session. I literally walked the streets of the Valley with my headphones in listening to it on repeat for days. I wrote that song about my then breakup. When I listen to it, I remember eating baklava cheesecake in my Airbnb and trying to heal. It’s so good.
Biggest goal for your career? My biggest goal is to be a mainstream artist on the Billboard charts and TV screen.
Any recent releases? In December, I released a video visual for my song titled ‘Full Moon.’ In February, I have a choreographed dance performance video being released that I’m extremely excited about. It’s titled ‘RSVP.’
What’s the next thing for your career? Acting is next, along with growing my aromatherapeutic wellness brand, Gold Sohl. I’m here to be not just an artist but a mogul that gives back in positive ways. Gold Sohl is centered on creating products that support mental health, wellness and healthy lifestyle practices. @iamphoenixsohl