Sunday, April 18, 2010
Backup Vocalist: DeeDee Foster
by: Brea’ Reliford
Credits of Dee Dee Foster: Backup Singer for Jennifer Hudson, Mary J Blige, Jessica Simpson, and Anastacia
Street Fame: You are originally from Cincinnati and now reside in California. What led you to your relocation? How has it been of benefit to your career?
Dee Dee Foster: Well, after I graduated from college, I attended Central State University, in Ohio. I was determined to pursue my singing career professionally, and I felt like Los Angeles would be a great move. Actually, I was thinking of either Atlanta or Los Angeles, but I got this crazy phone call from some of my college friends who had graduated prior to me. My frat brother Shaun had moved to L.A. He knew me from college and singing with the choir, etc. and he told me I should come to L.A. he was out there trying to do his acting thing, he was like, "you should get out here sis, I can introduce you to some people, it's cracking." So I decided to check out some flights out there just to see what the price ranges were, it was during the summer so I knew the flights would be high. I went to this travel agent to see what was up, I was purchasing another flight to visit one of my sorors in St. Louis, I'm a member of Delta Sigma Theta. Anyway, after the lady got my flight to St. Louis, I asked her to just see how the flights to L. A. were looking. She looked at the computer and her jaw dropped, she said, "oh my goodness, I see a flight, roundtrip, out of Cincinnati, to Los Angeles for $150!" Now if you are familiar with flying out of Cincinnati, that doesn't happen, most of the time we are trying to find flights out of the surrounding cities, never directly out of CINCINNATI. I just looked at the agent and said, "I'm supposed to go to Los Angeles." She told me that she knew it was a mistake in the computer but had to give it to me because it was listed at that price. Needless to say I booked the flight. I had planned on visiting, but after being there for 2 wks, got my first background singing job with a major artist, and as they say, "the rest is history." I'm so thankful to God I booked that flight... LOL
Street Fame: Before relocating to California, did you feel that Cincinnati had a limit on what your career could possibly prosper to? How were you able to reach other markets outside of your hometown?
Dee Dee Foster: Aw, man, heck yeah! I mean I love Cincinnati, it's my hometown, and I love it, the Skyline Chili, Graeter's Ice Cream and Frisch's, LOL. But, yeah, I think, no, I KNOW, relocating helped me out. I just thought it was a no brainer. I mean Hollywood is like the entertainment capital, per se. I mean everything is there: music, television, everybody is in the business in Hollywood! I know New York is cool as well, but I needed the sunshine, I was "so over" the snow. LOL. Being in L.A. has helped me to reach a lot of other marks because of the work I have gotten. Being a professional background singer has allowed me the opportunity to travel all over the United States, and many other countries.
Street Fame: You've toured with several popular artists in the past. Not to mention, you've shared the stage with Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Anastacia, Jessica Simpson, and Mary J Blige. How were you able to become a back up singer for such artists? What was the experience like?
Dee Dee Foster: Actually, when I came to L. A. my immediate goal was to be a professional backing singer. I believe if you set your goals, with determination, you will attain them. I realize that just like anywhere else in the world the music business seems small once you get in. When I first got to L.A. my friend introduced me to one of my sorority sisters, Lashana, and she had been singing background for different artists. I called her, she told me she heard of an audition for this new artist and gave me the information. She hadn't heard me sing yet, so she said don't tell them who sent me, (just in case I was whacked) just go to the audition. I really wanted to go so that I can see how auditions are run, so that when I move to L.A. I would know what to expect. So this first audition was intended for research. LOL So I go to my very first audition in L.A. oh my goodness, I was soooo nervous, it was a line of girls outside of the room. When my time came to go in, I had prepared a popular song to sing the night before, but I was so nervous, I wanted to sing something I was familiar with. So I asked them would they mind if I sang a gospel song. I sang, "He Cares” by Milton Bronson. After I sang, the artist asked me if I knew a certain song by Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and she said, "If you sing this song, I will give you the job." I was very nervous, because I only knew the words to one of Vanessa's songs, "You bring Out the Best in Me," and I knew that couldn't be what she was talking about. Come to find out, by the grace of God, that WAS the song. She stated she loved the bridge and if I could do that riff she does, I could have the job. Well, I did it, and she told the Musical Director to put a zillion stars by my name.
The next day they called me and confirmed that I had the job, put me in a hotel, and I started rehearsing with them. The other jobs over the years would just come by word of mouth. You can get referred by another backing vocalist, or the Musical Director will give you a call. Getting jobs is kind of like a 'snowball effect,' you may do a job; someone likes what you do, and refer you or pass your name on, etc. That's why you always have to be professional and present your best; you never know whose watching. That background singer, who's standing next to you at a gig, may be able to hook you up on an even bigger gig. Don't take anyone for granted!
Street Fame: Do you enjoy the role of a back up singer? Or are you more interested in performing as a solo artist?
Dee Dee Foster: I love singing background for different artists, especially if they can really sing. Like that, "Jennifer Hudson," oooh that girl can sang! Having a career as a solo artist is really what I wanted to ultimately do. Being a solo artist is like opening up your own business, being an entrepreneur. "You" are the product you are selling, and I think everyone would ultimately like to have their own business. I sure do... LOL
Street Fame: After listening to your music, I am very impressed. Your family, I've heard your voice numerous times but it still sends a chill over me. You have a beautiful voice and your sound is very distinct. Do you agree? Or would you compare yourself to another Pop artist?
Dee Dee Foster: Well, thanks little cousin... LOL Um well, I think that I have a unique sounding voice, and from what others say, they seem to agree. I can't really compare myself or my music to another artist yet, hmm, naw, I think I'm unique. LOL
Street Fame: So what can we expect from you this year? Are you releasing any new projects or going on tour with any artists? Any modeling?
Dee Dee Foster: Well, this project was just released Jan 2010, so I'm going to promote, "The DeeDee Foster EP" this year. Although, being an independent artist is extremely rewarding, it is not lucrative financially, so I may tour with Jennifer Hudson this year, if she goes out. Modeling? I hadn't thought of modeling, maybe I will try my hand in that. LOL
Street Fame: I listened to your EP...very versatile! My favorite of all is "Best That I Can". It gives me motivation to move forward no matter what trials or tribulations come forth. I also love "Safe", it gives me strength to not feel alone or afraid on this journey. Which of your records are most meaningful to you? Why?
Dee Dee Foster: Thank you. Yeah, most of my writing was a result of losing my mother. When my mom died she was the most important person in my life, and I just really got into my music and writing in order to release some pain, and try to encourage myself. I have major faith in God and if it hadn't been for Him I don't know what I would have done. "Best That I Can" is talking just about that, doing the the best that you can, but realizing that God has the "master plan." "Safe" is talking about being safe in the arms of Jesus. Both songs are fan favorites, and I still put them on from time to time to minister to myself. I love, "It's Up to You" as well. It just let's you know that life is what YOU make it, it motivates me, and it's a great song to work out to also, it rocks!
Street Fame: Has the success of your career implanted any complications within your family and marriage life? What happens when you’re on the road? You have two sons, do they come along?
Dee Dee Foster: Yes, I have two wonderful babies that are the joy of my life. A 3yr.old and a 4 mth old. The last time I toured was this past spring and summer, with Jennifer Hudson, and Robin Thicke. That was the first time I left my toddler for an extended period of time. It was so hard, I shed many tears. I had just found out I was pregnant, so I did the tour, because my hubby was home and my mother in law, came to town to help with my then, 2 yr old. I haven't toured since the little one has been here, I've just done only one date with Jennifer right after Thanksgiving. I flew in, did the show and then I flew right home the next morning. It was hard, but I needed the rest because he's a newborn. He was fine, they were with their dad, and I have a nanny, and a daycare provider that are very understanding of my career, and the crazy hours. I'm mostly in town now, it's too soon to leave my little one, I'm just home working on my own music, and being a mom, and wife. When I start touring with my own project, the boys will come, because my husband plays in my band as well.
Street Fame: Your husband, JJ Smith, plays the bass guitar. He is currently on tour with Jamie Foxx, correct? He has also shared the stage with promising endeavors. Is it even harder to keep up with him as he is constantly on the road?
Dee Dee Foster: Well, JJ did do the "Blame It" tour, with Jamie Foxx, but now he's doing promo dates with Mary J. Blige. It's really cool being married to someone that does what I do, I understand his schedule and he understands mine. Before the kids it was fun because we would meet each other in different cities, or sometimes we would be on tour together, but having kids has put a little twist on things. My 3 yr old has traveled a lot, my hubby and I once both had a show in Trinidad, and we took him along with us, and brought Aunt Ment, out to take care of him. That was awesome. I need to get the little one his passport, I'm sure he'll be traveling soon too. As for now, JJ is gone a lot more, especially because I'm home with a newborn, but we just do a lot of talking on the webcam. The babies love that, and we try to take advantage of the time we all have together as a family. Like after Christmas we took the boys to Disney Land... great times.
Street Fame: In the near future, are your children going to be taught the ins and outs of this tough industry?
Dee Dee Foster: Oh my goodness yes! We are going to have to prepare them because they more than likely will be involved to some extent. My 3 yr. old is always on the drums or the piano, and he just started saying, "mommy goes to work to sing," and "daddy goes to work to play the bass guitar." Wow, he gets it, and he's seen us on TV numerous times. The 4 month old, may be a singer, the lungs on this kid! Oh my goodness. LOL
Street Fame: What advice can you give to aspiring artist who are seeking the entrance of the entertainment world?
Dee Dee Foster: All I can say is be up on your craft. Meaning practice, practice, practice! You must always be prepared, and "on" at all times. If you're trying to be an artist, look like an artist, act like one, and think like one. You never know who's who, especially in Hollywood. Always be prepared, and never feel threatened are frightened to sing or play at the drop of a dime. I sang in many restaurants, and on the streets, when asked by producers or other artists. Always have a song prepared, that you sing all the time, and just hit it, if asked to sing. Who would have thought another backing vocalist would have helped me get in the door. Always come prepared, and always be early or on time for any call time. You are never above being challenged or tested. I just got tested this past week, ha! I did American Idol Hollywood week. It was indeed a challenge, I had to back up, all 70-something of the contestants, and learn a total of 32 songs in one day. Then upon getting to rehearsal, before the taping, we had to know the songs in several keys, and different arrangements. It was indeed a challenge; fortunately there were two other awesome background singers with me. Nayanna Holly who is super dope, and Judith Hill, who sang backs for Michael Jackson right before he passed. I had to do my thing; I had to retain those songs. It was challenging but extremely fun. Simon's facial expressions are priceless. LOL. Please don't forget to stay humble. Amazingly enough a lot of artists at home or that hasn’t made it yet, are the most arrogant, and a lot of big stars are so humble. You can be confident, and not be arrogant. Remember your attitude determines your altitude. No one wants to work with someone they can't stand, no matter how talented you are.
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