Justina Lee Brown is an award-winning Nigerian Afro Funky /Soul Blues artist, Songwriter/Composer, and Entertainer. I met Justina last week in the light of the release of her last album, “Black & White Feeling” and her participation with her brand, as finalist, in the European Blues Challenge, scheduled in June.
Justina Lee Brown, welcome to CreativInn, please tell us a bit about yourself and how your music career started off?
“Music started as a survival tool for me and my family, as a kid growing up in the ghetto of Ajegunle and kirikiri town in Lagos, Nigeria and not having a place to really call a home. As a child, this was a big brokenness I had to deal with.
Discovering my singing talent was during one of the times I had to sell ice water in a local market called Ido market in Lagos with my mother. While my mother hawks (vend) the ice water rapped in little plastic bags on her head (today it’s called pure water). I stayed by the big bowl where she preserved the water with some blocks of ice on it to keep it cool. So, I secured it and helped her to sell some when someone needs. Out of boredom I made sound from the big bowl of water by hitting it with a stick and then I sang and danced, passers by started giving tips (money) and gifts to me. That was when I realized that there was something in me that people really loved that I never knew it was there, but I knew I was making people happy and they were interested in what I was doing and that made me happy too, I was an unwanted child by both my families which gave me the energy and courage to surpass myself. By discovering something that takes me out of the misery and pain, I felt a great joy in my heart.
This was the beginning of my journey with music and an escape route from everything that was negative around me.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
My Genre of music is combination of almost all music: Afro Highlife, Funky Soul Blues with some Jazz and pop down to my Gospel root.
What did you learn from the tough period where you struggled for survival as a street child in Lagos and made it on to stage from Nigeria to Europe?
I learnt how to survive and stay afloat in all Situations both in life and musically, how to appreciate and value the talent I have. I also learnt how to share what has been given to me with the world.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What’s yours?
My Experience is my creative tool. and my emotions play a big part of my creativity. I am a very emotional person. Most of the time I express my emotion through my music you can tell how I am feeling and how I see the world. Honestly, it plays a big role in my creativity.
What do you think the most appealing aspect of your new album “Black &White Feeling” is?
‘Black & White Feeling’ it’s a good illustration of how I was shaped through music and the combination of both my journey from Africa to Europe, a testament of my success in music even though there were highs and lows. The Mixture of both my world and its experiences are what make my album appealing to my listeners. Knowing the love, I get from my fans because of ‘Black and Feeling’ is awesome, I am grateful. “
The relationship between music and other forms of art – such as painting, video art, and cinema – has become increasingly important. What’s your opinion on these relationships?
Art is art! Movie, Music, Painting or Dancing…, they are all art, and they are interwoven. One is a subject to the other depending on which one you are in. In most cases you need all of them to progress. Either way, you need talent to perform any one of them.
They are all expression of life. In all, they bring joy to our lives, they are good to the soul. the connection is natural…
It’s now official, the European Blues Challenge will take place in Malmö Sweden on the 3rd and 4th of June. You have been nominated with your band for the finale. How does this make you feel?
I feel very honored to be representing a great country like Switzerland as the first African Nigerian woman to do so. I am happy to share my craft and creativity through music and knowing that someone out there believes in what I have done so far. My creativity is a big gift and my band I are working so hard to represent Switzerland a country outside my motherland. We promise to make us proud, looking forward to bringing back the trophy back to Switzerland, we are in a very high spirit, happy and excited! It will for sure be a great experience.
As a composer, tell us about your artistic process and the way you brainstorm ideas? What do you usually start with when composing?
Melodies play heavily in my head. I constantly have a Melody playing on a regular basis in my head, it never stops. I’m always on a groove all the time. That’s the foundation of where I started my music. Then the lyrics come in through emotions mostly on how I feel. Melody I would say is the starting point of my creativity.
Thanks again for this opportunity to interview you for Creativinn! Are there any final thoughts for our readers, especially for those who would like to follow your lead?
Keep your heads up, believe in yourself all the time, take your chances when you have them. It’s just matter of time, whatever your thought is will manifest, your soul is your home!
Honesty, Truthfulness and Kindness are the food every human soul needs. In all LOVE is the key to everything in LIFE!