There’s no doubt the music industry has been shaped by Black artistry and storytelling. To honor and celebrate Black History Month, The Orchard highlights the history we know and love most: music. We asked a few of our distributed artists about their most influential legacy act. See what these current creators have to say in our “Play It Back” series. Hear from Joyce Wrice with her interview below.
Joyce Wrice is a singer-songwriter from San Diego, California, currently residing in Los Angeles. Born to a Japanese mother and African-American father, Joyce started singing in high school when she and a group of friends would sing Hip Hop and R&B songs and post them on YouTube. Eventually those videos caught the attention of rappers like Dom Kennedy and Pac Div., who brought her into the studio to start recording and writing for the first time. Eventually Joyce went on to make her own music. Joyce realized she loved music when she was riding in the car with her dad back in the day, who would play favorites by Biggie, Brandy, and Tamia. She was so overly influenced by the power and emotion in their voices and wanted to create music like her musical icons. Read on to learn more about her adoration for Brandy, what she wants to pass on to the next generation, and why she thinks music can be both a form of resistance and joy.
Why is it important to celebrate and honor Black History Month?
It is important to celebrate and honor Black History Month because it provides the nation with an opportunity to hear the voices and experiences of people who have historically been oppressed, ignored, marginalized and overlooked in our country and in the world. It’s important to celebrate Black History Month to recognize the sacrifices, contributions, and achievements of Black people to the United States and the world. Not only is it a time to celebrate Black people, especially those who have paved the way for us all to thrive, but I also think it is a great opportunity to consider how we can create more justice in our daily lives and institutions.
Which Black artist was a key influence in your musical direction and career?
A Black artist who was a key influence in my musical direction and career would be Brandy. Oh man, I was exposed to Brandy’s music when I was little. My dad had her album Never Say Never and “Almost Doesn’t Count” was playing in the living room and just her voice, captivated my spirit. I really believe it’s her tone, husky vocals, and her ad libs – the way she tells a story with her ad libs really moved me and made me fall in love with music. Made me want to do what she’s doing with her voice having an impact on people like the way she had an impact on me.
What about this artist helped define your music?
Brandy really helped define my music by giving me, I guess, the courage and inspiration to develop my tone and have fun and use my lower register. I loved her song “Like This” where the majority of that song is her singing in her lower register. And I loved playing around with mine and developing mine. It’s something that I would like to use more and it would be fun to let that be a signature part of me. For now a lot of people recognize my tone and it’s a huge compliment that they say I remind them of Brandy so I think that’s how she’s really helped me define my music.
If you could ask Brandy anything, what would it be?
If I could Brandy anything, I’d probably love to know any tip or advice from her about telling stories through ad libs because she kills that each time. I would love to also ask her how she’s able to recreate her songs because when she performed them live, I’ve heard so many different live versions of “Sitting Up in My Room” and “I Want To Be Down” – the notes that she switches up it’s just so fascinating to me and I would love to be able to do that to myself. Listening and watching her is helping me figure out how to do that myself but I really feel like she’s mastered it so I would love to ask her some advice about that.
Why is Brandy so important to you?
Brandy is so important to me because I feel like she has mastered her craft and just listening to her new album B7 she can keep going. She’s impressed me every time. I think as an artist it’s really cool when you can progress and try new things and get good at doing new things and really redefine yourself. It’s cool that she’s been able to do that, and for me, that’s important. I really want to be able to progress and try new things and not stay the same. I really want to be able to recreate myself every time. She’s important to me in that way where she’s been able to keep going in her career and sound just as good, even better.
How can music be used as a form of resistance and joy?
Music can be used as a form of resistance and/or joy because it’s another form of expression. When I create, it’s an opportunity for me to share my story, talk about how I’m feeling and get through what it is I’m feeling. For the listener, it might get them thinking and talking about things that maybe they never thought about. And also, I think it’s beautiful that music unites people. It brings people together. There might be someone at a show that might have a difficult political view, or different values from you, but because you both like this artist or this song, it can bring you together, and, hopefully, bring some sort of change.
What do you want your legacy to be as future generations listen to your music?
As future generations listen to my music, I would love for my legacy to be that I was able to make people happy with my art. I want to encourage people. I would love to just inspire them to be their best selves and work towards being their best selves. And always choosing hope, always having gratitude and appreciation, and to keep creating, to keep finding ways to do what they love and what they’re passionate about. Just like I’m doing with my music.
What is something you want to pass on to the next generation as we remember, honor, and celebrate the legacy of Black artists?
Something I would like to pass on to the next generation as we remember, honor, and celebrate the legacy of Black artists is to find your purpose and mission in this lifetime. We all have a unique mission that only we can fulfill. We all have our own stories to tell. Everyone has a story to tell. To really find your purpose and your mission as a way to repay our debt of gratitude to the Black artists before us.
How do you connect with fans that say that your music has helped them through 2020 and life in general?
The way I am able to connect with fans who say that my music has helped them through 2020 and life in general is by seeing the comments, messages, and tweets that they post and liking, favoriting, and responding to them is a way that I can connect. I also do my best to connect with them by creating merch that they can enjoy and working hard to make the best music that they can resonate with. I also enjoy posting quotes that help me get through hard times and life in general, hoping that that can encourage them.
My favorite song by Brandy is “Like This”, off of her Full Moon album. What I really love about it is the use of her lower register throughout the record. It’s so low! It’s so bomb, so cool that she is able to carry herself throughout the whole song with that lower register. For some reason I really gravitate towards that style so that’s one of my favorites. It’s so hard to sing that low but she has mastered it! And that’s why it’s one of my favorite songs, it’s an album cut. So good.