Church to Charts: An Interview with DaQuashia, R&B’s Immaculate New Voice

DaQuashia —a soul-speaking singer/songwriter— has closed the gates on our worries in finding “Unconditional Love.” Throughout DaQuashia’s young life, her deep euphonious voice was polished and perfected amongst church choirs in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Having such a strong culture with family and friends, she was able to gain confidence with her voice, and most importantly— herself. While attending Clark Atlanta University, she began to recognize her true talents and abilities to become what she is today—an R&B sensation. Just recently, she caught a big break through being noticed by a Grammy-nominated producer on a live video with R&B Radar that took off on Twitter and had people showing enormous love for her music. DaQuashia and I had a chance to sit down and talk about her background, influences, and future endeavors in an exclusive interview for Burbs Entertainment.

Nick Ferraro: What was it like growing up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi?

DaQuashia: Growing up here, it wasn't really bad. I'm always surrounded by a lot of culture here; a lot of people who were always looking out for me. I actually was born in Texas—Abilene, Texas—that’s where i’m originally from, so I’m extremely southern. Being from southern Mississippi, it wasn’t too bad. I had a few crazy experiences growing up, but it nothing blatantly racist. It wasn’t until I was older that I started recognizing the crazy experiences.

People always say that they want to move away—they can't wait to move away, which I am going to move away—but I wouldn't say that it's a place I would never come back to; I would probably have a home here. I grew up in a church, I grew up singing in a church choir, I grew up around a lot of my people—a lot of people who looked like me in the church, who influenced me to be who I am today. So, it was a great experience. It's been a great experience; I'm actually here right now.

Nick Ferraro: Does the culture and environment that is your hometown shape or mold your sound and style in some way?

DaQuashia: Definitely. So, I don't know if you can hear it even when I speak, but I'm very country. I grew up in the country; I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, so it really influenced my sound and the soul and the deep sounds that are in my music.

Nick Ferraro: Was there something or somebody—or you, yourself—that made you take that leap from singing in a church choir to make music and being an independent artist?

DaQuashia: Actually, I would say I've always wanted to be an independent artist. Growing up in a church introduced me to my voice; honestly, it made me find my voice. My confidence didn't come into play until I got to college, and I actually put my foot in the door and actually started making music. But growing up in a church definitely shaped me to the work and to who I am today in my sound, but I wouldn't say it was a big transition from singing in the church to making music because it was always something that I wanted to do and my family always knew it was something that I wanted to do, as well.

Nick Ferraro: I saw that you went to Clark Atlanta University as a film major. How would you prioritize your time with your studies and your music career?

DaQuashia: I wouldn’t say it was hard, because when it’s something that you want to do, you don't even really think about what time it is, how long I've been here. I would say that I always made time for it. It didn’t matter if I was tired or whatnot; I always make time for music because it's something that I really want to do.

Nick Ferraro: Do you think you'll decide to direct a film in the future?

DaQuashia: Definitely. That's definitely something that I'm still interested in. I did not get a degree for no reason; I definitely would not have wasted my time if it was something that I didn't want to do. Right now, my focus is on other things. Using my degree and even directing my own music videos, films, and doing it for other people is something that I want to get into in the future. I'm just glad I have that under my belt right now, and I know my way around it and whatnot. So, yeah, it's definitely something that I do want to do in the future.

Nick Ferraro: Are music videos going to play a big part in your projects and everything else you're doing?

DaQuashia: Most definitely; it's something that I'm really looking forward to. A lot of people keep asking me why I haven't put out that “Unconditional Love.” I really want it to be something that's memorable, and it's something that I want to have a major party when it comes to writing it, scoring it, and just doing a lot of different things with it.

Nick Ferraro: What artists and albums would you say are a primary inspiration to you?

DaQuashia: I'm going to say this every time somebody asks me this—Beyonce is always very at the top of my list; she'll always be at the top of my list. So, my first album that I ever had was an Alicia Keys album; she played a big role and was a big inspiration to me. I would say Brandy. Right now, I’m going to say one of my favorite artists, and everybody is so surprised when I say this—Drake. He does inspire me a lot. Jhene Aiko. There’s a lot of artists who I really admire; I watch a lot of interviews and whatnot, and I'm always so inspired by them. It's a lot of people out here that I'm really inspired by.

Nick Ferraro: What was it like seeing Tommy Banks and Icon Lord Quest react in that fashion to your music on R&B Radar?

DaQuashia: In the moment, I was like, “Is this even happening? Like, what the heck.” I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I was just really happy that they finally reviewed the song because I was going to the live for weeks, trying to get my music listened to every week I would go. I think it was for almost a month and a half straight; I can't even remember the timeframe, but I was going on there every Monday trying to get my music listened to. So, when he finally listened to it on that day, it was just like, “Bro, what?” It was really crazy.

Nick Ferraro: I went through a bunch of tweets when I was doing my due diligence on you, and I saw this someone said, “All of these years knowing you, I didn't know you could sing. This is fire, keep it up!” When you were younger, did you keep yourself vocal talents to yourself outside of the church?

DaQuashia: I wouldn’t say I was, but I wasn’t like, “Oh my gosh, I can sing! Listen to me sing!” I got involved in choir in middle school, and I started doing talent shows, but there wasn't that many in middle school. Every now and then, I would post YouTube videos of me singing—thank God they’re gone now—but it was nothing that people probably would know about me off rip. I'm actually very reserved and very shy, so that's why a lot of people did not know that I sing; some people still just figured it out. The person that said that—we grew up together, and it was probably fifth grade when I met him, and he has yet to know that I could sing until now.

I'm just pretty reserved when it comes to it. I just like being humble about things; I don't like pushing it out there. But like I said, I also did not have the confidence that I have now when it came to singing. Honestly, that just came to me in college when I started performing around campus and whatnot, and my friends who were like, “Yeah, you can sing, start doing this more often.” So, the confidence just really came and that's why a lot of people did not know that I could sing.

Nick Ferraro: What would you say took that shyness away?

DaQuashia: I think it was just the support around me really telling me, “You could really be famous; you can really do something with your voice.” Dropping “Unconditional Love” and dropping the first song “Changed Up” and people reacting to it and saying, “This is really, really good.” I would say that's what really pushed me—the support of the people around me and my friends. I would really say that's so important, because if I didn't have them, I don't know where I would be when it comes to music. It’s the people around me and the people who support me constantly that gave me the confidence that I have now.

Nick Ferraro: What is your favorite film?

DaQuashia: A lot of people probably would hear this and be like, “What the heck,” but my favorite film that played a big part in my life growing up was the Twilight series—just the whole aesthetic behind it and how it had the dark colors and the contrast and all that. The story behind it was kind of corny at first, but then it came around the next couple of movies and it was really good. The series got better with time. That's my favorite film to this day. If I'm bored, if I need something to watch—I just turn that on.

Nick Ferraro: Do you watch film differently because of being a film major?

DaQuashia: Now, I really do. I just watched how things are shot a lot because in high school I was a photographer. All through college I was a photographer, too, and I really pay attention to the way things look; that's really important to me. When I watch films, I really mostly watch it for observing how it is shot and the colors in it and how everything comes to get there. I do pay attention to it differently; everybody probably be paying attention to the scenes and what's happening, and I'm going like,” Oh, this looks really nice; I love the way this is shot.”

Nick Ferraro: I noticed on your Instagram—your shoe game. Is that something that is important to you?

DaQuashia: Honestly, yes, and it didn’t happen until college. I would say that I was into retro type of vibes; I can't even remember what they were called, but my favorite shoe last year was the Aztec Reeboks. They were remakes of the 90s versions. Honestly, I'm one of those people who are just starting to get into 1’s. I just bought my first pair a couple of months ago, and I'm so excited. I'm trying to get into those a lot, and just shoes in general. A lot of adidas. I do like fashion, as well. I'm a lover of all the arts; you can't really box me in, because I could see myself in the future. I really want to do a collab with Reebok or whoever offers me one.

Nick Ferraro: April 29, 1998 is a big day for you?

DaQuashia: Yeah, that's my birthday.

Nick Ferraro: Mine too.

DaQuashia: Seriously? I do not meet too many people who are born on the same day as me! What time were you born? Taurus fam.

Nick Ferraro: I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Nick Ferraro: Every song has a part of love in it—is that something that’s been a good thing in your life, or has it a bad thing?

DaQuashia: It was always great to experience, but I am very much so a lover and hopeless romantic. It's not something that takes a major toll on my life because it's a part of life—highs and lows. I would say that it does play a major role in my life, but I would say that, at the same time, all those things that I am singing about aren't love. I probably have yet to experience true love, but I just feel like they're vital to people as we grow and whatnot. I wouldn’t say that I'm a hopeless romantic; I'm very hopeful about love still, even with the heartbreaks and whatnot. I mean, I wrote “Unconditional Love.” I have to have some type of hope in my life. I would say that it does play a major role in my life, but I wouldn't say that it's a bad thing, I would say that I found my balance in all of it.