Mar 22, 2012
Yaminah Brock’s Endless Journey
New release shows progression of stage and studio veteran
Yaminah Brock is a veteran of stage and studio, and has sung every style of music from house and funk to country and Big Band and swing.
But now, she’s the boss, leading her own band, Yaminah and Jazzy Soul, and financing and marketing her solo debut, “Endless Journey,” a full-length collection of jazz-inflected soul music slated for a spring release.
While spending more than two years recording and assembling her band, Brock discovered the rewards and challenges that lie on the road to independence. Yet, she stays on course by staying true to herself—and the music.
“I have new respect for anybody who has [recorded an album] independently, because this is no joke,” Yaminah says. “It’s a whole other job! But it’s well worth it. I’ve learned a lot.”
For most of her career, Brock’s vocals have enhanced others’ work. She cut her teeth singing in the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church choir, and Brock hit the Detroit music scene running after graduating from Michigan State University.
She propelled several house music recordings by Chicago’s Glenn Underground, Detroit band Painted Pictures, and Motor City DJ and producer PirahnaheadPirhanahead. On the live scene, Brock fronted a Motown Revue, a swing band and sang in a funk band before taking the leap into her solo career.
“[After] playing and recording with different people over the years, I think my learning curve was a little bit shorter than most people,” Brock says.
From the beginning of the process, Brock knew how she wanted her album to sound. She hired noted Detroit producers, Brandon Williams, Pirahnahead and Karenga Ani. Newcomer Michael Phillips also helped Brock bring her first-rate singing and songwriting to life in the studio.
The result is a strong set of contemporary soul grooves that allow Brock’s honeyed vocal tone and bright personality to shine through every note. But it hasn’t come easy.
“It’s challenging with musicians since I’m not one, because it’s hard sometimes to translate to them, ‘I need you to hit this key, and not that key,’” she acknowledges.
And, being a woman in the male-dominated music business can present its own set of obstacles.
“Sometimes, it’s still a boys’ club, and as a woman you really have to stand your ground, because the boys think you don’t know anything,” she says, laughing. “I’ve learned that one; I’ve had to assert myself a couple of times.”
Brock presses forward with her career, fighting her way through time and budget constraints to create the sound she hears in her head. Besides the full-time rigors of the music business, Brock teaches special education at Romulus Public Schools, and is an Adjunct Professor at Baker College.
As the “Endless Journey” project wraps up, the process has taught her some important lessons: “I’ve learned to speak up for what I want as opposed to just going along, and I’ve learned to really be patient. I’ve learned to be still and have faith in what I do know.”
J. Nadir Omowale is a Detroit-based musician and freelance writer.