ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: CONYA DOSS
Fans of indie soul are well-acquainted with vocalist Conya Doss. Doss is currently prepping the release of her sixth studio album A Pocketful of Purpose, an 11-song compilation with the single “Don’t Change” that recently debuted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Charts.
Over the past decade Conya has received rave reviews for her first five albums A Poem About Ms. Doss, Just Because, Love Rain Down Still and Blu Transition in a variety of outlets from USA Today and VIBE to Billboard and Cleveland Magazine as well as appearing on the covers of numerous Ohio publications and garnering praise from fellow musicians Raheem Devaughn, Ledisi and Anthony Hamilton. She starred alongside Dwele in the McDonald’s McCafe commercial and has received nominations and wins at almost every Soultrack’s Awards over the past six years. Popmatters has referenced her “pleading and yearning” vocal style to Lauryn Hill, while Soulbounce has called her the “queen of indie soul.”
Wiles recently caught up with the lovely Ms. Doss to discuss her roots in Cleveland, OH, her journey to the world stage, and everything that’s gotten her from one place to the other.
There’s a reason Conya Doss looks so comfortable onstage, gently swinging her hips like a day lily caught in a summer’s breeze, singing in a voice that’s equal parts honey and hellfire. It’s because she’s used to it. As a teacher of children with special needs within the Cleveland public school system, this thirty something soul songstress faces an audience tougher than most, nearly every day.
“I learn a lot from the kids I teach – they inform my experience as an artist,” she told us. “Regardless of their level – whether they’re non-verbal or highly functioning, when I put a lesson to music, they relate to it and they respond. They show me all the time how universal a language music really is.
While finding Doss – hailed as the “queen of indie soul – in a Rust Belt city like Cleveland may be likened to the proverbial diamond in the rough, urban music aficionados will be quick to remind of the city’s storied and musical heritage, which includes the likes of of Babyface, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Tracy Chapman, Marilyn Manson, Gerald Levert, The O’Jays, Macy Gray, James Ingram, Roger Troutman and Zapp, The Gapp Band and Avant among others.
“A lot of people know that a lot of talent has come out of Cleveland, but despite our rich history, there isn’t much of an outlet within the city for artists to showcase their work,” she shared. “Thank goodness for the internet and social networking! Now people are able to be more creative in getting their work out to audiences.”
Check out Doss’ video for the single “Don’t Change” from the album Pocketful of Purpose” now:
Inspired by Bonnie Raitt, Ani DiFranco, Mint Condition, Rude Boys, Jane Child, Donnie Hathaway, Angela Winbush and Nina Simone, Conya Doss has emerged over the past decade as Ohio’s top female vocalist. Her music is not lost among the pantheon of new crooners, but instead invokes the spirits of legendary composers-singers such as Chaka Khan, Betty Wright, Natalie Cole, Me’shell N’Degeocello and Alanis Morisette.
Like all great art, Conya Doss’ music and her message touches people.
“No matter how I’m feeling, getting feedback from my fans makes me feel great,” she said. “One guy on Twitter told me my music helped him study for Calculus, another woman told me my music helped her kick cocaine. I call it ‘indirect divine intervention.’”
And now, a decade and six albums later, she’s committed, not only to her art, but to helping other emerging artists by sharing the lessons she’s learned.
“To be able to help somebody else, to guide them so they can avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made, and to help someone expand creatively, that’s very important to me.”
To Follow Conya Doss on Twitter: @conyad
To learn more, please visit: www.conyadoss.com
To purchase her new album please visit: A Pocketful of Purpose