Behind the Music: The Struggle of the Independent Artist
Detroit singer Maurissa Rose and others share musical highs and lows
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Maurissa Rose clearly remembers the day she got a call to rush over to a Detroit studio to record a duet with Universal Motown recording artist Kem.
Recording the song, “If It’s Love,” as a featured artist for the third single on Kem’s “Intimacy III’’ album was sure to be one of the best things that ever happened to the veteran singer.
Considering the duet was hot on music charts for 52 weeks and still is a radio hit, perhaps it should have been her big break.
Instead, her dream was diminished. She was paid a session fee for her work; having her name listed as the featured artist on the single was the only thing the singer says she requested.
While she was given credit on the album, when the single was released, there was no mention of her name. To make matters worse, the song was re-recorded and released featuring Kem’s Universal label mate, Island Def Jam recording artist Chrisette Michele.
Detroiters noticed the difference in the two versions. They discussed it on Facebook, called in to the radio stations asking for the Maurissa Rose version—a rich, deep rendition— although many of them didn’t know her name.
Armando Rivera, program director for 105.9 Kiss FM says the station continues to play the version featuring Rose because she’s a homegirl.
However, K.J. Holiday, Director of Urban Programming for Clear Channel Communications’ WJLB-FM 98/WMXD-FM 92.3, says he wasn’t aware that the Detroiter recorded a version until months after its release and continues to play the version featuring Michele.
“The devastation of having a national record that I couldn’t gain exposure from is a nightmare,” Rose says. “It was a major disappointment in my career. I’ll get another turn. I’ll get another ride on this rollercoaster.”
Dramatic ups and downs are as integral in the lives of the independent artist as the music itself. Sometimes, they are signed to a major music label and suddenly dropped without explanation or they find their project was shelved and never gets off the ground.