In the Entertainment Industry, a "hyphenate" is a person
whose career includes many different specialties, and in the case of
New Yorker Queen Esther, that hyphen would include expertise as a singer-actress-songwriter--with
success in all fields, I might add.
enough, this month's TAXI Passenger Profile subject had always aspired
to be an actress rather than a successful musician. "I always wanted
to be an actor. Singing was something I did on the side. I wasn't really
interested in getting signed, having a record deal or doing any of those
things, " she revealed candidly, "I guess I just did so well that I
took it for granted; It was something extra."
to the Big Apple in 1992 and then, realizing that "to make her mark
or get ahead and stand out", she'd have to create material for herself.
With that in mind, the talented artist began writing and co-writing
songs as well as material for her acting career: "Creatively speaking,
it's all about work; It's all coming from the same place. The idea is
the impetus, that urge to create and letting that out. How that gets
out is really inconsequential to me, as long as it gets out. Whether
it's singing or acting or writing, as long as that urge can free itself,
that's the point."
took her new material, joined the Black Rock Coalition, and performed
all over New York as a solo artist with a backing band. This time, her
aim was to land a deal; to get signed. The problem, as she explains, is
one that most new artists share--a lack of industry connections: "I didn't
really have any connections to shop the tapes. I didn't know how to make
any connections. I didn't know anyone personally that could help me. And
also, I didn't really understand the mechanics of how the business worked.
There didn't seem to be just one way of doing it. Any one of a myriad
of roads could lead you to Rome. Somebody could show up at a gig and love
you or someone could hear you on a compilation CD or you can drop a package
off and it just so happens that they listen to it. I didn't realize that.
I thought there was a way to do it because there is a way to do almost
everything else. With the music business, you just do it and you have
to love it."
||New York City
Having just concluded
a one-person show that she wrote and performed live at the French Festival
(called "Queen Esther--Unemployed Superstar"), Esther received rave reviews,
but is quick to acknowledge that the rewards in the Biz aren't as forthcoming
as they are in theatre. "I can play out from now until the next ten years,"
she points out, "and never get a write-up in the New York Times. But here,
with my acting, I did a show in the Second Annual French Festival and
got mentioned in the Times."
Wanting to seriously
hone her craft and seeking the advice and criticism of professionals,
Queen Esther turned to TAXI. "A friend told me about them. I saw their
website and thought they sounded really cool. I liked the idea of someone
listening to this stuff and giving me an honest opinion, because the people
around me weren't doing that. The people around me didn't like what I
was doing at all. Everyone was extremely critical and not very objective.
So I was very surprised when the first songs I worked on were submitted
to TAXI were forwarded to labels. That was a shock to me."
to explain the value she placed on the TAXI A&R Screeners: "I was hoping
that the people who listened to tapes at TAXI were all in the industry.
I'm from the South. I'm blues-based as a singer. My way of listening to
music is a little more polyrhythmical. So the things I come up with, they
might think were pretty antiquated and not very modern. But I'm trying
not to sound like anybody else. But at TAXI, everyone seemed to like that
I didn't sound like everyone else. I sent them my tapes and they got it."
have found people who understand what she has worked for over many years,
Esther also feels that the TAXI staff zeroed in on her strong points and
weaknesses as a writer: "What they told me was that I needed to work on
my songwriting--and they're right. I write hooks, but they can be stronger.
I took their critiques very, very seriously. First of all, I'm paying
for this so I want to get as much out of it as I can. And blowing them
off isn't going to help--especially if they're supposed to be professionals."
a former screener who now heads William Morris' record label Ultimatium
Records, was one of the first to contact Esther about the possibility
of an artist development deal. S.L. Feldman & Associates, a Canadian post-production
company, heard some of Esther's material and is considering placing the
tunes in a movie. And as of this writing, other calls are still coming
in--including one that presents the possibility of having her song used
in a video game. Cool!
"This has been
very encouraging for me, the artist concludes. "There was a moment where
I could actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. It gave me a
lot of hope. This wouldn't have happened without TAXI. To have several
professionals giving you their expertise--just look at what you're purchasing.
It's a bargain!"