Zanyia Chats with Word Life Production

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Zanyia is a female singer, songwriter, and rapper. She is originally from Houston, Texas, but now lives in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois. Zanyia sat down with Word Life Production to discuss her career, influences, and the political climate in the country today.

What motivates you to write?

I think my motivation for writing comes from anxiety.  I always have a bunch of ideas jumbled inside of my head racing at a mile a minute.  It’s like a pent-up mental energy that keeps me up at night.  When I write, I am giving that anxiety a place to dwell outside of my head.  I put those racing thoughts into ideas, I categorize them, I label them and give them purpose.  When I write that mental activity alters itself into another form that isn’t so difficult to deal with.  It’s like literary Xanax!

 How long have you been rapping and when did you decide it was for you?

I’ve always had this natural ability to put words together ever since I was a kid.  I first started writing raps at the age of ten with my older brother.  We would both write a rap and recite it to one another.  Of course, my brother always said his were better than mine!  I always thought of rap as like a fun hobby to do in my spare time.  I didn’t start to take it seriously until the pandemic and the death of George Floyd.  I wanted to put the struggle of being black into words that people unlike us could understand.  After the response I got from the release of my single “Blood Lines”, I knew that this could potentially be a good career path.

 Who are some of your influences?

It’s so funny because my parents were the most religious people you would ever meet.  We were only allowed to listen to gospel music.  I listened to a lot of Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, and a Christian rapper by the name of T-Bone.  As I got older and discovered new genres of music I listened to a lot of Lil Wayne, Eminem, Drake, and Trey Songz!  So for me, I took both genres, picked out the traits I liked best about each one and combined them into this hybrid mix of secular/powerful music and I think this combo can still appeal to the youth while still talking about meaningful topics.

 What do you think of the political climate today?

I look at the Democrats and I look at the Republicans and I can’t seem to get behind either one.  I wonder if there is a politician out there that truly cares about normal, everyday people?  It seems as though there is a disconnect between the working class and the upper class.  People in positions of power should use their wealth and influence to assist people in lower positions.  I see a lack of compassion, a pompous “I’m better than you” attitude from the people in politics at times and it makes me question the morality within the world.  If the world’s leaders, the best and brightest of us all, if they can’t seem to solve these social issues then what does that say of our futures?  It’s a scary thought, but that’s why I continue to create art that may leave a lasting impression on the world and hopefully inspire someone to be the change they wish to see.

 If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing in the world, I think I would make everyone a good person.  Imagine a world where everyone had good intentions, everyone thought of everyone else?  Where greed and selfishness didn’t exist.  What if every single person in the world had compassion for one another?  I think that would be a beautiful thing.

 What are the goals you wish to reach in your career?

At first, I had the cliché dream to be the rapper on tour, travelling, being a millionaire, looking fabulous on TMZ.  But now?  I think I just want to create the art whether I receive the credit for it or not.  I am interested in ghost writing.  I would love to get a publishing deal with a record label and write songs for other artists.  At the end of the day, it’s the writing that creates these albums, the hits, the billboard charts.  And I like to write.  It doesn’t matter the genre of music.  One day I can write a rap song, the next day a country song and then a pop song after that.  And because of that ability, I would love to be able to create songs with no restrictions with that artistic freedom to write any and everything I want. 

To Be Released: So Lo- Old Skool Shirts

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Big Al Staggs’ brand new upcoming full-length album entitled “So Lo” will be released January 3, 2020. This new release features 10 freshly cooked original compositions. His storied career with the Left Wing Fascists and Moaning Lisas has fueled this epic offering of sheer energy, good vibes and terrific storytelling.  Big Al Staggs started his career on the streets of Norfolk, Virginia in the 1980’s as a front man and songwriter releasing several albums and EP’s with both of his bands over the past few decades.   His career has taken him from stages of small venues across the East Coast to Lollapalooza in the early nineties and he continues to perform live today with his bands.  Big Al just released a new video “Old Skool Shirts” an epic tale of how kids are wearing band T-shirts and do not know any of the songs.  “Nice Shirt What’s your Favorite song?” This video along with the 2019 video Been There Done That are songs that inspire you with a a love story. Speaking of storytelling, the lyrical content is one that everyone surely can relate to with the single and the other nine songs discuss many topics of interest in this new release.

This new album “So Lo” is co-written, produced, and directed by the former lead guitarist for Iggy Pop and David Bowie, Stacy Heydon. Stacy is also known for his production work of the rock band Sheriff’s #1 Billboard Hot 100 single “When I’m with You” (Capitol Records).  

This new release written by Stacy Heydon, Big Al Staggs, and Andy Acosta provide solid guitars, grooving bass and creative drums that allows Big Al to sing  stories of true love, revenge, alcohol, roadkill, and losing a loved one to suicide. The release adds a great tune about a hot girl in a fast car and a tune to explain why kids are wearing old concert shirts these days. Each track is different, unique and explores a wide range of music styles.

Check out this new single spinning on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  Big Al and the crew have been busy during covid 19 so look for a new release coming in 2021.   

Sam Hankins offers up a fresh exhilarating vibe with his music

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Sam Hankins had the great fortune to be born into a musical family that would help cultivate his own talent and ambitions. Encouraged by his father, Samuel Hankins Sr., young “Hank”” began with the guitar, then switched to his trademark trumpet in middle school and began playing in churches, professional bands and orchestras. Hankins remembers clearly being one of only 5 African American kids being bussed to the predominantly white Harmony Elementary School in Oklahoma City, which he attended with his younger brother.

Music was a safe haven for Hankins who had difficulty concentrating in school and remembers clearly one of the teachers telling him that “he would never amount to anything”. However, he was determined to prove her wrong and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He then joined the air force jazz band, The Pacesetters, stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois as a trumpeter, where he remained until the Air Force Base closed in 1991.
Hankins then returned to school, earning both a second Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was while studying for his Masters degree that he found out he was dyslexic after being tested by his college professor.

During his tenure as Band Director at the Edison Middle School in Champaign, Hankins won numerous teaching awards when he led a struggling band program to Division I ratings, State and National awards and recognitions. In 1997, he won the Golden Apple Award recognizing commitment to excellence in education & in 1998 received the White House Letter recognizing the Edison Middle School Band Program, sign by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Before becoming a solo artist Hankins performed with numerous legendary artists, including Al Jarreau, Clark Terry, The O’Jays, The Temptations, The Dells, The Impressions, Aretha Franklin and the Glenn Miller Big Band.

A prolific composer, Hankins had composed over 150 pieces before he took his wife’s advice and began pursuing the next phase of his diverse career, as a solo recording artist. He laid the groundwork for Nothing Between Us (May 2012) by releasing Dream Catcher (July 2011), a compilation of his catalog of music in every genre from smooth jazz and dance to techno. He released his third CD, Joyous Celebration, a Christmas CD which is a collaboration with David McLorren in November 2015. His latest CD, Do That Thang was released in March 2016.  All 4 CD’s have received lots of radio play in the US & around the world and have won over 25 independent music awards.

On April 23rd, 2017, Hankins won 9 independent artist awards at the Indie Music Channel Awards (IMC) ceremony in Hollywood. Thousands of independent musicians from all over the world (Australia, Europe, UK, Canada & Nigeria, to name a few) submit their music in the different genres to be judged by music industry professionals (well known producers, managers, radio DJs, songwriters, etc). The list of nominees is released in March and the awards show is held in April in West Hollywood every year. This year it was held at the famous Troubadour, which has seen performers such as Miles Davis, Elton John & Bob Dylan, amongst others.

Hankins was the Band Director at Rich East High School in Park Forest IL from 2017-2018 and Head Band Director in Kankakee, IL from 2018-2019 as well as an Adjunct Music Professor at South Suburban College where he was the Director and Conductor of the Jazz Combo and Jazz Ensemble. 2018-2019

In 2019 Sam Hankins and his wife relocated to Los Angeles, CA where he is currently pursuing his music career.  He is working and performing with the renowned jazz vocalist of the 20th century Ms. Barbara Morrison and other musicians in the Los Angeles, CA area.

His brand new single “Carol Dream” which was release on September 10th, 2020. It’s currently being played on various radio stations around the world.

ELSIE BINX is one of the Midwest’s hottest must see bands

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EBX was born when Kevin Wesley Williams and Erin Accomando began working together at The Sound Shop Studio in Macomb, Michigan in January of 2015. They set out to create the sound of a new pop/rock project, ELSIE BINX. They and Aaron Golematis produced a 7-song album that would eventually bring together the group of musicians who call themselves ELSIE BINX – EBX today.

Throughout the recording process of their first album, ‘Smile and a Bullet’, old loved ones and new friends were added into the mix. At that time, Phil Steuer was an intern at Sound Shop and began putting guitar tracks onto the 7 original songs. And then, when they were in need of a drummer, Phil recommended long-time friend and bandmate, Dylan McCarty, son of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer, Jim McCarty. And then logically, when the need for a bassist arose, Dylan brought in long-time buddy and bandmate, Jason Quartuccio.

When they released their first album in October of 2015, they began playing out in public as a 5-piece band, including one background vocalist. A few months into the endeavor, they made the decision to search out a second guitar player. As luck would have it, one of Phil and Dylan’s best and oldest friends would become available at the perfect moment in time. They welcomed in Jon Neville as the fifth member of ELSIE BINX in March of 2016.

For the remainder of 2016, they worked diligently to write an entirely new rock album and have it perfected before recording it in the Fall of 2016. They successfully released their full-length, 12-song sophomore album, ‘That’s What She Said’, in April of 2017.

Brazenflow is a hip hop R&B dancehall artist

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Brazenflow hails from north London, Finsbury park with Nigerian heritage. He got a taste of music when he joined a youth club making music called shed. Whilst there Brazen developed a taste for music and knew that’s what he wanted to do with his life. Brazen went on to study music production on a university level, and upon completion, he decided to pursue a career in music.

His musical journey had many obstacles and successes. He performed at the Outlook Festival in Croatia alongside UK urban heavy weights, Steff London, Mist and other established musicians.

Brazen has had moderate radio plays with previous singles and premiered slot on the Jevanni Letford (prince Harry fame) show showcasing his music. Brazen has also recently featured on the Fubar Quarantine radio show dedicated to the hard working NHS and Key workers during this pandemic, performing acoustic versions of previous singles. This was a rewarding experience for him. Not only did it show support for the NHS, it also put brazen in the spotlight with other established stars like Big Narstie and Jack Fowler from love island.

Brazen latest single Teacher, is a dancehall inspired track with a melodic tone with the sound Brazen has perfected through the years. With a catchy hook, this sing-a-long vibe is a hit!

Aya Ito Releases Don’t Take My Life

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Blazian Sensation “Aya Ito” is a striking songstress with an incredibly amazing sound. A native of Tokyo, Japan, Aya is a multi-genre vocalist and rising star. This twenty-four-year-old Japanese and African American soloist is a force of nature who has toured the country performing for fans her unique vocals and astounding dynamic range. With the ability to sing in English, Spanish and Japanese, Aya is a sheer standout who is destined for greatness. For many years, she has been wowing crowds with her spirited performances and eccentric sound. No stranger to the spotlight, she has been interviewed on several media outlets and has been lauded for her absolute beauty and undeniable talent. Her latest song, “Don’t Take My Life” written by Aya Ito and Tonya Johnson, as a response to the disease that is violence which continues to claim lives every day. “We wanted the song to reflect the sacredness of life and the importance of love in life. Too many priceless lives are lost at the hand of violence, and as a world, we must show love and spread love”. “Don’t Take My Life” is relevant in all contexts, whether it be police brutality, racial injustice, gang violence, immigration, war, the pandemic, etc. Aya says let us continue the fight to make this world a better place for ALL!  “Don’t Take my Life,” is released by Smash Town Records (Chicago, IL) and produced by Slavic Livins & Darnell Johnson.