Interview Tekitha

At the heights of Wu-Tang's epic, Tekitha was the first lady of the crew. With a voice on the edge of force and despair, she brought a touch of softness to the rugged Wu sound. Announced for years, never released, her first album is finally coming out. In an extensive interview, this engaging young mother told us her story, from Sacramento to Shaolin.

15/11/2009 | Interview by JB | Version française

Abcdr du Son: I always thought you were a New York-raised girl but in fact, not at all…

Tekitha: [laughs] No, I'm originally from California, I was born and raised in Sacramento .

A: What memories do you have from this period of time?

T: Well, my memories of home revolve around the closeness of family, growing up with my mother, my father and my younger brother. I'm really a hometown girl, I have a lot of family and friends in California who supported me throughout my career and still support me to this day. I was a gymnast for the majority of my childhood, from the time I was 4 until I was about to get out of high school. Being an athlete, my childhood kinda revolved around gymnastics.

A: What were you doing in gymnastics?

T: We did every event, like what you see on TV in the games or any kind of world championship. That was the type of gymnast I was. My coach Geza Pozsar was Nadia Comăneci's choregrapher alongside Béla Károlyi. He created a private gym in Sacramento called Pozsars. I started training there when I was 10 or 11, up until I got out of school.

A: Did you give up because of music?

T: No. Actually, I just felt like there was not a future there for me. Gymnastics is a sport dominated by young people and once you get to be 16/17, you need to figure out if you want to have a college career in gymnastics or go on to train for the Olympic Games. Where I sit in my age bracket, the Games were gonna be for 1996. I would've been 20-something at that time. It just didn't make sense for me, so I just said enough. I went on to pursue theatre, dance and things of that nature. My transition into music didn't come until 1995. I really transitioned from theatre arts into the music industry. It's shortly after this transition that I ended up linking up with the Clan.

A: What are your musical upbringings? Were you raised in a musical family?

T: Well, yes and no. My grand-mother on my mother side was a singer with a wonderful and beautiful voice but she didn't pursue a career in music although she had wanted to. My grandfather as well, on my father side. He was a singer but he didn't pursue music either. In those times, they had other responsibilities. They just didn't have the freedom to pursue a music career. They had other more intense things going on, not to mention they had children coming up and stuffs like that. One of my uncles was a concert pianist, he was taught in the conservatory in San Francisco so he is a musician but really, in my family, I'm the only one in my generation who has pursued and been successful in the music business.

A: I read an interview of you where you said that poetry actually lead you to songwriting…

T: Yes, that is true. As a child, I was always writing a lot of poetry. It was just a way for me to express myself when I couldn't find the words to speak. I could put them on paper relatively easy. I was living in Atlanta in 1994/95 and God, I had like, maybe, 30 or 40 pieces of poetry that I had written. As I was sitting there looking them over, I just thought "You know what? I can probably turn some of these into some songs". My aunt Diana was there with me and I was telling her "Hey, when you come back to the house, I'm gonna sing you these songs! " I didn't grow up singing, so she was like "You gonna sing?" and I was like "Yeah, yeah, yeah! I'mma do it, when you come back, I'll sing it for you". So I sang her acapellas of about four different songs, with no music or anything… and she just cried. She was like "I've never heard anything so beautiful! That's great!" From that point on, I became a songwriter. I didn't have formal training in writing a song. I didn't understand what a bar was, the format or theory in song writing. I pretty much taught myself all of that.

A: Do you remember those first lyrics?

T: Aww God no. I don't. I wish I did but I don't! When I moved from Atlanta to New York , one of the boxes that I had shipped up got lost in the travel. Half of my notebooks were in that box. I ended up losing all that work. I was a little messed up about that but not for long. A couple of weeks went by and I realized that yeah, I could still write [laughs] .

A: What were you doing in Atlanta at that time?

T: I came out here originally to look for some schools where I could pursue playwriting or some kind of career in theatre. That's what I initially had wanted to do.

A: Were you a hip-hop fan before the start of the Wu-Tang adventure?

T: Yeah, I was a hip-hop fan. I grew up on Slick Rick, Ice Cube, NWA… I was a huge Slick Rick fan, I listened to everything he did. He was like "My duuude", you know what I mean? [laughs] I loved him. When the Clan started coming up, I was here in Atlanta . I wasn't really following them super hard but I did love what they did, I definitely felt like " OK, that's how music is supposed to sound ". Even then, I knew we were speaking the same language.

A: Do you remember one of the early songs you heard from them?

T: The first song I heard from the Clan was… Mmmmh… It might have been 'C.R.E.A.M.' I don't remember the day that was though. You're making me think, I gotta go back [laughs] . As a matter of fact, I heard it in a friend of mine's car. He had a cassette tape of it. I said "Who's it?", he said "It's Wu-Tang Clan ", I was like "Oh, who's that? That's great, I love it! " So yeah, it just lit up from there. It was a long time ago.

A: How did you hook up with the RZA?

T: Well, the story is, I was living in Chicago when I first started pursuing music. I had hooked up with a management company called The Kingsley Group, a sports /entertainment firm. They moved me to Chicago to try to figure out what managing me would be like and blah blah blah. A friend of mine who came through Chicago on his way to New York – his name is Dante Perkins – heard some of the songs I did. Like three songs that I had just freshly recorded. He was listening to them and was like "I didn't know that you sang, wow, I had no idea! " And I was like "You know, it's kinda new for me too but yeah, here it is!" He really liked it and told me "I know some people in Wu-Tang, I'ma take your tape and give it to some other guy over there". I was like "Oh, OK, that's cool, whatever!" I really didn't think about it after he said it.

This was during the time when Farrakhan had the Million Man March in DC. So he took the tape way out to DC. He met with Tarif Supreme Power, who was one of the executive producers of the Clan, Raekwon and everybody. If I'm not mistaken, they were doing some shows in DC and then driving down to Atlanta . He ended up passing the tape along to get everybody listen to it. Shorty thereafter, a rep from Wu-Tang Production named Howard Edward called me in Chicago . That's how my connection with the Clan and RZA all began. Started with Dante who gave the tape, and I made my way through the hierarchy.

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