Chasing a dream is the ultimate faith walk. There are the crazy hours spent perfecting your craft. Then there's the constant tug-of-war on your self-esteem. And the annoying refrain of nonbelievers who feel a traditional 9-to-5 is the only way to earn a living wage. Divinity gave up a safe career in academia to chase her elusive vision of becoming a "working" artist. Close to a decade later, as the lead bassist for Beyonce's all-women band, she reflects on her beautiful struggle.
"Sometimes you wonder why you can't get shit poppin'. I've had some bumpy roads. I drove an ice cream truck. I was a waitress at Hard Rock Café. I cleaned houses. I have pawned so many guitars for food and gas money it's crazy. But I was very persistent and clear I wanted to be a musician and a tight MC," reveals the ATLien who weathered two weeks of gut-wrenching auditions before being handpicked by the flyest chick in the game to rock the BET Awards and join her world tour. "Sometimes it takes people seeing you on TV to know how serious you really were."
In her pursuit of happiness, Divinity has overcome enough everyday blues to produce a lifetime of art. Flaunting a musical DNA somewhere between the sexy trance of '70s funk/rock fusionist Betty Davis and the nimble bass groove of Meshell Ndegeocello, Divinity's bad-ass brand of soul covers intensely personal terrain. "I am straight up and down," says the bass diva, whose productions expand artistic possibilities for black female artists. "That's what makes people believe. My music touches something inside of others [that allows them] to be themselves. My role as an artist is to interject my worldview [and] to speak to something greater."
Beyonce co-sign aside, Divinity's backstory began long before it was cool for black folks to party like rock stars. And years before metal guitar loops made their way onto urban radio, a dejected Divinity toiled in her East Atlanta dwelling, rehabbing a ruptured Achilles. She was dead-set on MCing while simultaneously playing the bass lines prominent in the work of Limp Bizkit, Jaco Pastorius and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She would emerge from her therapy sessions with an edgy product, Duchess of Decatur – an ambitious EP featuring her trademark mix of dope lyrics, aggressive rock guitars, bass lines and straight-ahead hip-hop beats. She followed that up years later with Ain't No Other Way (2003), featuring production from Will.I.Am, Mike Elizondo and Ray Murray from Organized Noize. Considered an underground classic by music critics, the all-star roster of guests could not overcome the industry politics that led to tepid commercial sales.
Channeling her alter egos, Hottie Tottie and Divibaby, during killer live shows solidified her rep on Atlanta's underground club scene and led to a major breakthrough: touring with internationally revered bassist Victor Wooten (whose bass lines popularized Béla Fleck and the Flecktones). The traveling gigs were a crucial tutorial where the budding artist learned road rules such as "how not to get left at the truck stop on tour." She would also develop the technical proficiency to conjure up all the intricate sounds in her head. Divinity's signature bass licks can be heard on two of Wooten's albums, Live in America (2001) and Soul Circus (2005).
While her stint with Ms. B has catapulted her to music's A-list, Divinity is quick to point out that her sound reflects the sonic diversity of a true Atlanta sound, set to take its rightful place on the world stage.
"I ain't never gonna be Hollywood. I'm native ATLien fo' sho'. Atlanta music has a heartbeat," she says. "It's blues, jazz, funk. ... My goal is to bring the true Atlanta sound from out of the underground."
Too many memories. I remember we were smoking meth on the back patio and a…
Awesome memories for sure... Lenny's played such a major role in my music life. My…
I met my 1st husband at Dotties! Carnal Carnival Days!
that place was rad. sluts everywhere and awesome pours on the drinks. killer shows. so…
Trashed Dance Rock Party