Cherry-picking the fruits of happiness Image

by Biko Kennedy

Give her a pen, paper and a mic and this songbird is sure to melt you heart away. Stephanie Wallace-Maxwell is a Jamaican singer and songwriter who is unhurriedly taking the world by storm – with her most recent accolade of landing a song placement on Lifetime TV's "Dance Moms" reality series. found out a bit more on her song placement and upcoming EP Real Woman and its February release.

Jamaicansmusic: Landing a song placement on Lifetime TV's "Dance Moms" reality series certainly was no easy feat; take us through the journey of attaining this goal and your initial reaction(s) to hearing the news.

Stephanie Wallace: Well this year marks two years since I've been writing for Rebel America Inc. (Production Company). This job is not for the faint at heart as it takes a lot of work and great patience. There are really no guarantees as to when one of your compositions will be placed. I along with the other writers go up against some of the best writers around and so bringing my A game is always the aim. A lot of submissions are sent out, sometimes like every other day and it can become daunting if you're writing for a long time and not getting any placements. So I look at the deeper value; its great practice and I become a better writer especially in select genres. I am the only writer from the Caribbean but I'm right up there with writing for other genres such as Pop, R and B, Alternative Rock, etc. I take a shot at it all. 'If This Is Real' was written about a year ago and so I wasn't even expecting to hear about it a year later. When the placement emails are sent out I always look through and I got tired of not seeing my name, so I was about to ignore this recent placement email when a voice said to me "look at it". My placement was the first listed, and then what made it all that better was seeing that it's for a major reality series. My children and I watch Dance Moms all the time!

JAmusic: Was getting a song placement in any televised program ever foreseen by you?

SW: Oh yes. I've been totally committed and open to this process. I've held on to the vision that something huge would come out of it. Whether it is for a televised program, Intl. Ad campaign or by a record label for one of those mega stars like Rihanna. But I guess because I don't know 'when' exactly it will happen I kind of just don't keep my mind on it, so that's why I was so surprised by this.

JAmusic: Being on the verge of releasing your debut EP, Real Woman, what do you think separates this body of work from the others you've released?

SW: It's more mature; my voice, the content, how I write, it's all just more grown up. And its 100% ME. Also with this EP, I've stepped into new territory genre-wise. I have a surprise for the fans.

JAmusic: What was the vision you had for Real Woman; in terms of what did you want the project to reflect of your persona?

SW: Well first of all I want to show my versatility. My music will always be rooted in Reggae and Dancehall but I've been exposed to so many different musical cultures and genres that I really gravitate towards, and that really expresses me. I want my music to appeal to anyone really. Grasp this - I'm simply complex; not complicated, but interesting. That's my music, it's easy to enjoy in its simplicity but there's depth.

JAmusic: What's the underlining meaning behind the EP's title is there a specific theme to it?

SW: Real Woman celebrates me and most women I know. There's a saying that if you have to say that you're a lady then you're not. I have no claims of being one, I can be, I know how to be but I'm moody, I can be gangster, I'm a mom, wife, go-getter, independent and yet knows how to make a man do his thing, I'm sexy in my own unique way. I wear so many hats and I'm defined by many things. What that makes me is a Real Woman. This song is the first single for my independent label Havatio Music, a joint effort with Stephen Maxwell (husband). So when it came on to choosing a title track it was a no-brainer.

JAmusic: When you look back on the journey you took in creating this 5-track EP, what lessons did you learn along the way? Be it about yourself or musically (story telling/lyrical composition/etc).

SW: Direction/Vision is everything. You have to see the end product, even if you're not clear on the "how", having a clear vision is essential. A few tracks are remixed versions of previously released songs that I'm really excited for people to hear. And I have to shout out Dameon Gayle from Warriors Music Productions, Christopher from Acoustic Vibes Music and Wayne Walker from Shaks Productions who all produced tracks that have been remixed for the EP. They are a part of the vision too.

JAmusic: What song(s) on the album do you hold closest to your heart, that you simply can't wait for everyone to hear and why this particular song?

SW: 'Real Woman' for sure, but I'm really excited for everyone to hear 'Pull it Up' because they've never heard me like this before *surprise*. Big up to Sly and Robbie, Mario C and Stephen Maxwell on this one.

JAmusic: What do you hope listeners will take away from Real Woman and what Stephanie has to offer?

SW: I want the listeners to take from this EP a musical image of Stephanie as not just a local artiste, but a brand with international appeal that can be one of the next big things out of Jamaica. Celebrating brand Jamaica (Reggae/Dancehall), rooted in Jamaican culture but always with a world music edge.

Check out this clip from 'Dance Moms – Miami'. Season 1, Episode 5 which features Stephanie's 'If This Is Real' ballad

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