Catching Back Up With Conya Doss
Three years ago, when I first started Finding the B-Side, one of my first interviews was with soul artist Conya Doss. Since then, Conya has been making lots of great music and I thought this would be the perfect time to catch back up with her.
Conya just released her sixth studio album, A Pocketful of Purpose, which debuted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop charts. The first two singles from the 11-song album are Don’t Change and What About You and Me?, which features newcomer Chris McNeal. Conya appears to be just as busy outside of the studio, as she recently performed at the Apollo Theater for Michael Baisden’s 9th anniversary party.
Conya and I had a fun conversation about her new album, her busy schedule, and some very important social causes that she actively supports.
Mimi: Congrats on the release of your sixth album. How have you managed to evolve as an artist but still keep your original fan base?
Conya: Well, all I did was pretty much stick to what I know. I’m hoping that the fans recognize that I won’t be put into a box. I just enjoy creating music and growing and the fans are growing with me. I think there’s an evolution when it comes to music but I just write about what I want to talk about. What better way to convey a message than to use one that reflects your own experiences. Hopefully, everyone can relate to it at some given time. I think there’s something on this project that everyone can relate to, whether it’s a platonic relationship, a romantic relationship, or a relationship between family members.
Mimi: What do you think it means to be an artist with purpose?
Conya: To me, an artist of purpose is somebody who is gonna make a mark decades after they’re gone. I think of Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone because not only did they make timeless music but their songs were filled with purpose. Young, Gifted, and Black by Nina Simone and What’s Going on by Marvin Gaye are songs that are still relevant in today’s society. That’s what I would love to do. I aspire to be that type of artist.
Mimi: In our last interview, you said that you have become more of a businesswoman but it’s still a learning process. What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned thus far?
Conya: Follow your gut feeling. When something doesn’t feel right; you know that little voice, that’s what you have to go by. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is saying because at the end of the day, if something falls, it doesn’t reflect on anyone behind the scenes. It reflects on the person in the forefront. So, you have to be really conscientious of that.
Also, learn how to say no. Usually when you have other people that are your buffers, they can be the bad guy or the person who says absolutely not. But, when you’re independent, you’re more hands on and that can be a disadvantage because you have to wear all the hats. The issues come directly to you and you have to be really firm about your position.
Mimi: I really like the Piano Interlude track on your album. The answering machine has a neat feel and seems to offer a glimpse into how busy you must be every day.
Conya: Yeah, I think people think I’m trying to be funny and they don’t realize that I really don’t have time to do a lot of things. In addition to my music, I teach. But, my priority is my son. It’s hard to not get on the computer and check email but I have to commit time to him. A lot of people are getting my voicemail these days (laughing).
Mimi: Speaking of songs on the album, I think What About You and Me? is my favorite track. Can you tell us what inspired the song?
Conya: Yay! That’s one of my favorite songs too so I’m glad you like it. It’s just a feel good song. I was just sitting and talking to Myron Davis, who produces a lot of my music. We were talking about relationships and how you have to be friends before you’re in a romantic relationship. A lot of people that you don’t really think of are right there by you. You’re pursuing people who don’t care about you when the person who would bend over backwards for you is right there and you don’t realize it. So, we decided to come up with a song about that. We thought about those old duets. He had an idea for the chords, I had an idea about the lyrics, and that’s how the song happened. My other friend Big James came too and we were all just jamming. I called my friend Chris McNeal and I’m really pleased with what he did.
Mimi: Your bio says that you put your community before commercial concerns. What are some of the ways you are doing that?
Conya: I work with a young female youth group after school. I do it with two other colleagues and we call it the Young Ladies Club. I really enjoy it and I call the young ladies diamonds in the rough. Some of them are at-risk and live in homeless shelters or impoverished areas. They need a nice balance and I enjoy nurturing them and providing as much knowledge as I can. My goal is to expose them to certain things that they might not get a chance to see. Years later, parents call me to say hello and I get invitations to 16th birthday parties. I feel like wow, maybe I am making an impact. I think everyone needs to have someone positive. It doesn’t have to be a family member. You just need to have someone positive who believes in what you’re doing and will motivate you. I think that’s really important.
I’m also trying to spread the word about the water crisis in Haiti. Myron Davis and I just finished a song for that campaign called Pray for Rain and I am looking to go there soon. I just want to do my part and make a difference if I can.
Mimi: Let’s do a play on the words pocket, purpose, and change. I’ll say a phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Conya: (laughing) Ok
Mimi: Something you always have in your pocket
Conya: Tissues, because I have sinus problems (laughing)
Mimi: Something you won’t ever change about your music
Conya: The heart and soul of it. I can’t change that.
Mimi: Two words that describe your musical purpose
Conya: Making history