*All photos courtesy of and provided by Tennille Amor

International reggae superstar, Shaggy, sure knows excellent artists when he hears them.  His most recent find, Tennille Amor, is no exception and she’s been working hard on her debut album “EVOLVE through LOVE”.  Her latest single, ‘Lion,’ is a conscious roots reggae song that shares the powerful message of staying strong in difficult times.  It sounds very different from Tennille’s first single and music video, “Not the One” (produced by Shaggy), which is an empowering anthem about women standing up for themselves under pressure.  Her sweet, smooth vocal style appeals to a broad audience and her album’s lyrics of love resonate with everyone.  Similar to Shaggy, Tennille is also a generous philanthropist.  She heads up her own charity foundation that drills clean water wells in Tanzania, which also inspires much of her music’s lyrics.  We got a chance to chat with Tennille about her upcoming album, working with Shaggy, her own charity and much more!

Great job on your video for “Not The One”.  What inspired the song’s lyrics? 

Thank you!  The song was actually inspired by a conversation that Shaggy and I were having about the way that women perceive men who come on too strong.  He felt like a lot of women could relate to a song like that, so I wrote the majority of it, and then he and GC (another one of his writers) tweaked it a bit to take it up another level.  It’s a song about a woman standing her ground in a situation with an overly forceful man, but it is done in a humorous and lighthearted way.

You’ve been working with Shaggy a lot on your upcoming album.  How has that experience been?

I can’t say enough great things about Shaggy.  He has become a good friend over the time that we have been working together, and I consider him to be one of my mentors.  His talent is undeniable, and he has so much more in him that the world hasn’t even seen yet.  I learn something new every time we work together, and really value his opinions.  He is one of the only people who can tell me that a song that I wrote is terrible without offending me, because he is also quick to tell me when something I write is dope!  He is very genuine, and truly wants to see everyone in his camp succeed.  He is humble, down to earth, generous, real, and has a big heart.  He has quickly become one of my favorite people, and I feel blessed to have him as a friend and creative collaborator.

Tell us more about your debut album, “Evolve Through Love”?

‘EVOLVE through LOVE’ has been a work in progress for a while now.  It has literally “evolved” with me!  The album is filled with songs about love in its many forms (romantic, love lost, heartache, friendship, and most importantly, “one love,” or love for humanity at large).  I have evolved so much on my journey, and a lot of the lessons I have learned have come from my love relationships.  Life is about love.  At the end of the day, the people who we love in our lives are the most important things, and again, I don’t just mean in a romantic sense.  You can have a “love” connection with a stranger that is felt by both souls, and you may never get to know one another, but you know that you have connected by a shared love.  I think that as human beings, we are starting to evolve to a place of really understanding the importance of one love, and grasping the concept of “UBUNTU,” which means, “I am who I am because of who we all are.”  When we really understand the beauty in that, we start treating people differently, and really honoring one another with the love and respect that we all deserve.  I have by no means mastered it yet, but it is definitely something that I am striving for every day.

Tell us more about your charity E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change).  How has it influenced the lyrics of your songs?

E.P.I.C. is my inspiration for a lot of what I do.  My work in Tanzania, and the local people there who have become an extended family to us are such a huge influence on the lyrics of my music.  We drill clean water wells in Tanzania, and before we went out there, I had no idea that so many people in the developing world still did not have access to clean drinking water, so in learning that, it definitely has opened my eyes up to what really matters in life, and reminds me how fortunate I am every day!  I hope to inspire people through my music in the same way that I hope to inspire them through E.P.I.C.  I genuinely believe that together we can make the world a better place!

Do you think reggae music has the power to heal the emotional suffering of people who have experienced a crisis or hardship?

Yes, definitely!  All music has the power to do that, but there is something unique about reggae music that speaks more to our souls I think.  The obvious, Bob Marley, was such a great leader in that movement, and then other great artists have carried on that legacy.  Reggae music has stayed pretty consistent with its message over the years, and I hope that it will always stay that way.  I think that lyrical content in music is so important, and while I can definitely enjoy a more lighthearted (less deep) song, I tend to be drawn to music that has a strong message behind it.  It fires me up to want to do something great with my life!

Which contemporary reggae artists influence you most?

Well, of course Shaggy, but I also love Damian Marley, Collie Buddz, Chronix, Gyptian, Beres Hammond, Sizzla, Junior Kelly, Busy Signal, Beenie Man, and I know they aren’t primarily “reggae,” but I have to give a shout out to my boys Kes the Band too!

Regardless of genre, which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Lauryn Hill would be my number one.  I have utmost respect for what she has already accomplished in her career, and the example she has been to young women, and I know that she has so much more for the world to see too.  I have a strong belief that we will work together at some point in the future.  I’d love to work with Damian Marley too.  I think it would be great to write with Sia.  Her songwriting is so incredible, and it would be an honor to be able to work with her on something for my album.  It would be cool to do a collab with Nicky Minaj or Rihanna one day too, because they are both island gyals, and I think the right collaboration would probably be sick.  I had the opportunity to write something with Drew Chadwick from Emblem3 recently too, and he is extremely talented.  I’d love to work with him some more in the future.  I’ve already said how great it is to work with Shaggy, and I hope to continue to work with him for many years to come.  I’m sure there are others as well, but I guess they will just materialize as the journey continues!

How has living in various countries shaped your signature musical style?

Massively…  I think that my exposure to different cultures as a young girl really opened my eyes up to the differences (and more importantly, the similarities) between all people.  I was able to connect to kids who didn’t speak the same language, but who still cared about the same things that I did, and had the same needs and desires that I did.  I lived in Egypt for 5 years when I was really young, and that shaped me a lot, because from an early age, I was surrounded by people who held very different beliefs, but who still were just as deserving of the same love and respect that I was receiving.  The cultural divide in Trinidad has influenced me a lot too, because I never understood racism or segregation.  It has always disturbed me in a really deep way.  I guess I have always connected to the underdog, and have always been drawn to more urban music, or music that comes from struggle.  I feel strongly about giving a voice to the voiceless, or shining a light on things that could be better if they were different.  There is a fine line between entertainment and education though, so I have always tried to find the balance with that.  I am constantly learning.

Why do you think reggae is so popular around the world?

I think that most people can relate to it in some way.  And I think that the good vibes that people feel when listening to it is uplifting.  I don’t know many people who hate reggae.  I think that even if they don’t know many reggae artists, most people can appreciate a good reggae song.  I also think that a lot of reggae has the ability to be timeless.  Shaggy is a great example of that again.  You could play ‘Boombastic’ today, and still enjoy it as much as when it first came out.  There is something to be said about that…

Is there anything else you would like your fans to know?

I just teamed up with PledgeMusic to launch my album.  I decided to put it out that way, so I could release the music that I feel inspired to release, and not have to worry about any boxes that a record label might try to put me in.  The album has close to 20 songs on it, and is very close to being done, so I’m really excited about it!  I will also be doing some shows to promote it and raise some money for E.P.I.C. after the release (in Trinidad, New York, London, and Los Angeles).  The shows will all feature guest performances from some of my famous friends, and tickets to the shows are available on my Pledge site as well (along with a number of other exciting things!)  You can check it out by going to:

http://www.PledgeMusic.com/projects/TennilleAmor

You can also find me on most social networking sites with the name @TennilleAmor

My Official Site:  www.TennilleAmor.com

YouTube:  www.YouTube.com/TennilleAmor
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/TennilleAmor
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/TennilleAmor

Instagram: @TennilleAmor

For more information on my charity, please visit:
www.epicthemovement.org

Watch Tennille’s music videos for “Not The One” and her brand new video “Lion”.  What do you think of her music?  Comment below!

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Shaggy Discovers Trinidad’s Rising Reggae Artist: Our Interview with Tennille Amor

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