Producer and singer Khadeeja Grace‘s influences stretch back to past generations from her native Chicago, and she’s well aware of the weight of her influences as she blazes her own trail.
She has spoken fondly of growing up listening to great artists such as Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire and Roy Ayers.
An engineer’s ear lends her an extra dimension as an artist, having worked at Chicago’s Pressure Point Studios with the likes of Donald Lawrence, Darius Brooks, Percy Bady, and PJ Morton.
Khadeeja’s previous single was with the legendary house producer Jamie 3:26, and this one also got the remix treatment from Theo Parrish.
For her latest single, she’s teamed up with fellow Chicago-based producer, digital creator and 2D artist SaraProblem, for a taste of forthcoming EP Khadeeja The Grace.
Bonafide is very pleased to share some of her personal influences below, as we hand over to Khadeeja…
SHED is the first song born from having such a challenging 2022. This was also the year of new beginnings as I just met my music collaborator SARAPROBLEM through a mutual friend.
She was also a music producer who had the pleasure of visiting my music studio before I had to close it down. SHED came about because SARAPROBLEM had the framework of an instrumental on her SoundCloud and I said: “WHAT’S THAT?! Send me the stems!”
For several weeks I let the song play in my house on repeat and let myself flow without restrictions or boundaries. I called this track the “Flow Track” in my home for months because that’s exactly what I did in the studio while recording and editing it. I added some shifts in the production to make the song compliment my harmonies and lead voice. I wanted to release a song that represented a style of music I always appreciated which was R&B Soul outside of the songs I do at 120bpm for dance and house.
I consider myself as someone who is influenced by the digital and analogue age. I realize that I’m a product of several music influences I’ve come across in my musical journey with a dash of something brand new, “Khadeeja Grace”, who’s never been heard before.
Khadeeja Grace – SHED feat. SARAPROBLEM
I was introduced to Stevie Wonder’s music as a child from my parents. It was almost like he was a family member because he felt so close to us through his music; it played that much in our home.
It was through him that I would learn how to harmonize and become interested in music that had a ton of modulation and life to it. I admire that he is a musician and plays several instruments.
My favorite all time song by Stevie Wonder is Golden Lady.
I love the words and most definitely love how the song modulates 3:32 and towards the end. This is a perfect example of why I love a majority of his songs.
His music is colorful to me and majestic. My dad collected Roy Ayers records; they were sitting around in the house and I never picked them up until I became more interested in music at the age of 17. I was in a marching band and a fellow trumpet player would always talk about Roy Ayers. I had no idea that this was the same man whose records my father would play growing up.
The first song that fell in love with was Third Eye. It is a combination of jazz and R&B soul. The melody, the entire production has been embedded in my soul and I play this song at least 2-3 times a month ever since the age of 19. I learned a lot about jazz from listening to Roy Ayers and lots of my music has jazz chord and vocals because of how I trained my eyes to hear them… all from listening to his music.
Two other songs that I adore are No Stranger to Love and You Came into My Life.
Once again, majestic, beautiful and melodic…the type of music that’s been embedded into my soul.
For me, it’s all about the harmony, brass instruments and percussion along with the piano throughout many of his songs. Ray Charle’s music often reminds me of when a big band joins with the Pentecostal church musicians and they have a jam session.
His background vocals sound like either a small praise team or a church choir depending on the song and I love choirs; I used to sing with one. I was even more impressed with him after I found out that he would often sing his own three part harmonies in the studio. I could relate because that’s what I’ve been doing in my recordings the entire time.
The only time I have others singers is when I am doing a performance with a band. I could relate to him because he created music from his church influence and many of the percussions I produced did the exact thing, often sounding like a jam session and would remind some listeners of a praise break in the Pentecostal church.
In Unchain My Heart I love the key and modulation that occurs throughout this song. I also LOVE the percussion! Listening to this song opened me up to samba and Brazilian jazz.
He’s a real musician that can and will play all of the instruments on his recordings as well as sing and do the harmonies. There are several reasons why I love his style of music but to start, he created his own genre. When you hear a D’Angelo song, you know it’s him or either influenced by him and I’ve been told that I have the same effect on my listeners.
I respect musicians that create music that is true to their self-expression, who don’t follow trends and who’s music challenges you to listen for new developments within a song instead of a constant repetitive beat or chord progression. His music makes you want to listen for changes and new developments. I discovered D’Angelo while getting my hair done in a salon and heard Brown Sugar. I immediately asked “WHO IS THAT?!”
If you listen to my song Deep Down you might hear some similarities in percussion because I love Latin percussion as well. Listening to him only influenced me to delve deeper in them. I also love “Alright” from his first album. The combination of new and old school sound at that time period is remarkable. You can also hear how DIlla was also influenced by him which is who I’m going to talk about next.
J DILLA (!)
There is a lot to say! Dilla is the Roy Ayres of hip hop to me. He brought and introduced some of the most profound musicians in jazz, soul, R&B and much more to hip hop and created a wave that took over in the late 90s to mid-2000 unmatched and is the reason why many of us know about the artists he sampled!
He was down to earth according to many who encountered him and simply had a pure love for music and not for fame. Busta Rhymes said that he would give away beats on a CD; sometimes 300 beats on one CD and asked rappers to pick a few for their songs. One of my favorite J Dilla tracks is Untitled from Fantastic Vol. 2 Instrumentals.
I love the Rhodes, clap with the tambourine on the down beat along with the sudden silent pauses in the track. I have a few songs that do the same. Dilla helped me see that I didn’t have to learn how to play all the instruments within my songs in order to be an amazing producer. And even though he knew how to play drums, he still used samples and virtual instruments to get the job done. He was also into music that had modulations just like the producers I listed above.