Sultry chanteuse Conya Doss is a known name among neo-soul aficionados. Fans are buzzing about the Cleveland native’s new song collection, A Pocketful Of Purpose, which she is very proud of. “The project tells about self-love and perseverance through many other songs on the record,” she shares. When you watch the video for the album’s first single “Don’t Change”, you will be enchanted with her call for unconditional love of self in the face of incredible stress to convey a “perfect” image.
This week, Conya talks about her new album and shares facts you may not know about her—from her day job to her views on today’s music scene. Read our Sound Check with Conya Doss and meet the woman behind the music.
SoulTrain.com: Conya, thank you so much for talking with us today. It’s really a pleasure to find out about you and the new music you have for us. Tell us a little about this new project and why folks should go out and buy it.
Conya Doss: Hello, I really appreciate you interviewing me. My new project A Pocketful Of Purpose is a body of work that I am very proud of. It encompasses various situations from my own experiences and the experiences of others that I have spoken with. I feel that everyone should buy it because every song is with purpose and I am giving more of myself with regards to opening up more about the things that I feel that are important. My new single “Don’t Change” is about unconditional love, whether it’s a romantic relationship or platonic. It’s about accepting the people that you love for who they are and not judging. I could go on and on. I also have some very talented collabs with producers Myron Davis, Rodney A. Jones, JayShawyn Champion, Frank McComb, and Dre King. It was truly an honor to work with people who have chemistry with me.
SoulTrain.com: One of the things I enjoyed learning about you is that you are a teacher of children with special needs. You unabashedly share that on your website without trying to hide the fact that you have a day job. How does your very popular role as a soul singer impact your work as a teacher? How do your students react when they find out you’re a popular singer?
Conya Doss: Yes, I make it known that I still teach and I enjoy working with the kids. They inspire me a lot. The balance is challenging, yet through the grace of God and a strong support system–my mom is so helpful– I have been able to multi-task. Interestingly, I manage to separate the two for the most part, unless I am incorporating music into my lesson. The students initially want to discuss music and I try and school them about how important education is. I also inform them that they have to be able to read and write in order to avoid getting ripped off. They are so funny, because they often inform me that they were watching my videos on YouTube or posting my music on Facebook. However, they know that I am pretty firm when it comes to their academics.
SoulTrain.com: How awesome is that? I read that you don’t have a problem with the term “neo-soul” but you don’t call the music you make “new”; you consider it an extension of the music you grew up listening to, when we had Donny Hathaway and soul legends like that. Tell us more about what inspired you to create the music that you create.
Conya Doss: The music that I create is a compilation of hearing relatives who were in quartet groups, family gatherings always included music and sing -a-longs, and, of course Soul Train!
I had exposure to a wide genre of music from Nina Simone to Stevie Wonder to Charlie Pride to Steely Dan. The music that I create has a touch of every thing. I call it “Musical Gumbo.” Music just gives me a feeling that’s connected with my soul, so much emotion. I want my music to inspire, just as I was inspired by those who were before me.
SoulTrain.com: As a singer who works with children and typically keeps it classy with how you present yourself as a performer, what is your opinion about music today? Do you have an opinion of what you see prevalent in the music scene, for better or worse?
Conya Doss: I believe that I have to be very conscientious with regards to what I out there. Firsthand, I know that when I was growing up, I analyzed every artist, i.e. Diana Ross, Irene Cara, etc. Diana was very classy and sexy, yet it was tasteful. Nothing is left to the imagination these days. I see it every day with the teens that I work with. I can definitely tell that the media is a major influence on them. Parents have to limit the influence that this has on their children.
Growing up, I actually listened to lyrics. I know that today’s youth are just as impressionable. I feel that music is lacking the substance that I grew up listening to. There was so much meaning. Also, there were no boundaries. I listened to artists of all ages and genres. Today, it seems like if you are a certain age that you should only be listening to a certain type of music. I think that it’s just wrong. The audience should be exposed to great music period. I think that we need more outlets that are open to all types if music, it’s too much of a division.
SoulTrain.com: As an artist, what do you think is your responsibility when you create music for your listening public?
Conya Doss: Music is so universal. I feel it’s the best way to educate and inform others as to what is going on in society today. I feel that I have to be responsible, period, with regards to the content and subject matter. It comes with the territory–some young mind is being molded and influenced by my music every day. I have been there. So, I have to be very responsible and accountable for what I do and how I represent myself. I feel that my listeners need to see the causes that I am passionate about, like being involved in the Safe Water project that [addresses] a crisis all over the world, making them aware of the Darfur atrocities, as well as what’s going on here at home.
SoulTrain.com: What has been the driving force behind keeping your committed to performing and staying in the music industry, and why?
Conya Doss: First off, God it is amazing to have the strength to balance everything– motherhood, workings, creating, and planning. I can’t explain it any other way. Also, fans reaching out telling me how my music has inspired them, in turn, motivates me to keep pushing. I just love music!
SoulTrain.com: What bit of advice would you give to an aspiring artist striving to follow in your footsteps? What would you tell them?
Conya Doss: To stay true to yourself. Read and educate yourself about the music business. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your vision and dreams, where they are helping you versus carrying out their vision that is totally different from yours. Have a great team of producers that you have chemistry with. Also, fill out those split sheets at the top of the writing process to avoid any miscommunications.
SoulTrain.com: So, as we come to the end of the interview, and since you are on SoulTrain.com, tell us what episode of Soul Train you enjoyed most and who was on it, we’d love to hear it!
Conya Doss: Oh my, there were so many. To be honest that was the only show that I saw people who looked like me doing what I love! But, I must say when I was little I remember watching Minnie Riperton and being totally amazed. Also, my hometown artists Levert–I was so proud seeing them on there. I was so proud!
SoulTrain.com: Finally, is there anything that you’d like to tell our readers about yourself that you haven’t shared yet?
Conya Doss:That I am very talkative, most people think that I am shy. Also, I have a great doll collection. Thank you!
SoulTrain.com: Thanks again, Conya!
-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a writer based in Maryland. Visit her on KhadijahOnline.com.