Amen 820 Artist Profiles

Damita

Christian Singer, Damita

Imagine if you could morph the power and uniqueness of Gospel music with the slick production and sassiness of R&B;? What you probably end up with is an artist who defies definition yet embodies what Gospel should be – that artist is Damita, the latest scene-stealer; anointed-singer to breakthrough in Gospel music.

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Not a newcomer per se, Damita was practically born and raised in the genre. She grew up in the epicenter of music – Detroit, Michigan – where both mainstream and gospel music flourished. Though she grew up in a religious home where the only type of music allowed was Gospel and classical, Damita’s musical sensibilities were formed. “We were a musical family, Damita said. “Really it was just church and music but I remember running around the house with my twin sister, picking up brushes & combs singing into them when my mom would play a record.”

As a teenager Damita exposed herself to other genres of music that led her to find her musical perspective. Opening herself up to music far beyond Gospel, she listened to everything from R&B, Jazz, Pop and Rock. "I taught myself to play the songs and I wanted to sing by imitating what I heard on the album or radio," Damita said. This would later shape the amazing soprano's distinct vocal style. Her collage of musical influences includes the Clark Sisters, Rance Allen, The Winans, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Sting, Celine Dion, and ColdPlay.

Damita's professional break came when her and twin sister Marguerita formed an all female a cappella group called Adoration-N-Prayze. “We were invited to sing at the President of TM Records' birthday party not knowing this guy had a record label,” recalled Damita. “Immediately after we sang he asked us if we were interested in signing a deal and recording on his label. Our first and only release was ‘Time Is Running Out’. We were nominated for a Stellar award for that project.”

The group’s success and unique style not only caught the attention of the gospel industry but artists in the R&B; world as well, such as SWV and Escape who were known to sing their songs in their concerts as well. “He’s Wonderful,” which Damita wrote, was re-recorded by prominent songwriter and producer, Donald Lawrence for the amazing BIBLE STORIES album. Eventually, the group broke up and Damita found her place singing for her church choir as a standout vocalist with the Voices of Unity as well as singing and traveling with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her vocals on 2006’s Deitrick Haddon & VOU cut “My Soul Says Yes” earned her a Stellar Award.

Jumping to today, Damita has pulled from all her past experiences in preparation for her second solo album, NO LOOKING BACK. With vocals and production to rival anything on mainstream radio today coupled with foundational Gospel messages, Damita steps right into the role of young Gospel star. Her fresh sound shines through and her messages are expressed through everyday language, contemporary production and amazing vocals.

NO LOOKING BACK is a complete blend of Gospel, R&B; and Pop that Damita describes as universal and primed to reach people beyond the four walls of the church. Damita sought the talents of her brother-in-law; singer, songwriter, producer and member of Stellar-Award nominated group The Soul Seekers; Gerald Haddon. “Gerald and I produced the majority of this record … I went to work with him in LA for about three months and we wrote the majority of the project along with his wife Tammi.”

From its Urban Inspirational, Urban Contemporary, Praise and Worship and Rock sounds, to its Caribbean beats, NO LOOKING BACK is decidedly youth inspired. Damita explained, “I went a little more youthful on this release because I think that our young people really need this right now. We really need to get their attention. They are faced with so much temptation and if we don’t do something that makes them feel special, that moves and motivates them, somebody else will.”

From the urban throwback sound of “Pray,” to the praise-party enthusiasm of “Say Yeah” to the bouncy lead song, “Plain and Simple”all minister effortlessly with its youth inspired music and all are definitively Gospel music that is infused with enough contemporary devices to stay relevant in the mainstream. Damita gives her all on the project, even throwing in whimsical touches such as the Reggae flavored “Best Thing,” is a musical homage to the Caribbean Islands, a favorite destination of Damita’s.

Damita penned the enormous stand out title track and radio single, “No Looking Back.” The pop-infused track is beautifully simple and Damita’s vocals are brilliant. “I wrote it while sitting at home alone and the inspiration for it came from everything that had happened in my life between the releases of the first solo record until now,” Damita said. “It includes family situations, personal issues and physical issues. And I said, ‘Lord, between everything that I’ve been through from then up until now, it’s going to be no looking back for me -- that’s why we named the record No Looking Back. I’m forgetting those things which are behind me and moving forward. I’m not going back to depression or problems. This time I choose to be happy and to succeed in life.”

NO LOOKING BACK exhibits great range with the Praise and Worship songs “I Will Trust” and “Great God” and the rock-edged “Crossing Over.” “Great God” was co-written by Damita and inspired by Hillsong, ushers the listener into the presence of God with simple lyrics of praise and adoration. While vocally on “I Will Trust” Damita’s subtleness confirms her strength and versatility as an artist. The rock-tinged “Crossing Over” tells of a life in turmoil that has reached a breaking point and has no other choice but to surrender to God.

Bridging the gap between audiences is Damita’s re-make and total rearrangement of the late Rev. Paul Jones’ Classic ballad “I Won’t Complain.” The updated version introduces a new generation to the soul resonating lyrics, “I’ve had some good days…I’ve had some bad days…but…my good days outweigh my bad days…I won’t complain.” As the introspective “Midnight” is a soothing, percussion driven soul song that digs deep and encourages us to hold on – it serves as a beautiful reminder of God’s consistent presence even in the darkest of times. One of Damita’s favorites is “Torn Up.” “I did the song with my friends Tim Kelly and Bob Robinson. It’s about a relationship from a marital standpoint where a person is missing and longing for love. It could be the love of God or the love of God in their marital relationship that’s missing,” she said.

Damita has high expectations for her CD, “I’m hoping NO LOOKING BACK will bring a fresh innovative new sound to Gospel and set a tone and foundation for Urban Contemporary sounds and uplift souls. I want to be one of the etching stones paving the way for the next generation that may be even a little bit more outrageous than me!”

Packed with a mix of real-life emotion, thought-provoking, spiritual soul-searching love songs, funky rhythms and parities, NO LOOKING BACK gives you a snapshot of Damita’s rising star. With plans for a clothing line, a return of 85 South, the Word Network TV show she co-hosts and the release of NO LOOKING BACK, Damita is poised for success and from this point on there is no looking back!