Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): I would like to talk about having aspirations in life; what it takes to achieve those goals, walking in your purpose and experiencing the challenges that may include disappointment and unmet expectations. Also, how spirituality and faith enables you to overcome and prevail in spite of all of that.
You’re the former member of MTV’s Making The Band Day 26, which consisted of five members, including yourself, from five different backgrounds. In life, personally and professionally, we’re put in positions that may require us to work with people who are much different from ourselves. Therefore, in making it into the band and working in the band you have to do that. How were you able to this while going through your own personal matters and not get distracted or discouraged from reaching those ultimate goals?
Qwanell Mosely (QM): When you get into any business, you have to realize that it’s about building the brand and protecting the brand. When I was a part of Day 26, MTV’s Making the Band, I was for the group. I was only complaining about the business of not getting what we deserved to get paid from all the hard work we were putting in. What gets you through in the group is protecting the brand and protecting that business. That’s important, that’s how you build product.
EM: Yes sir. With that being said, I want to share with you words from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that he shared with us in our study guides. He teaches that with anything of value there’s always a difficulty factor attached to it. It’s the natural law of things. It keeps us pushing and it keeps us striving for excellence. So even with success, there’s that potential for disappointment. In what ways were you able to handle those disappointments and turn them into opportunities for growth?
QM: My faith. I was taught morals. I was taught to turn your bad into good. Therefore, even though the business wasn’t always right, and I was complaining on Television and I would sit there through all that stuff, I always had faith. Even though everything wasn’t all good, my faith got me through what I was seeing and not accepting just anything.
EM: Absolutely. You mentioned how you were portrayed on the show, and we’ve seen what’s called the “spin room” and how the media can take a situation and manipulate it. I want to find out from you what your views are on that and how much more careful you have become as a result of your own personal experience?
QM: The media…well I’ll talk about MTV’s Making the Band…they have to make ratings, and they have to come up with a good show. Therefore, if there’s a situation…in my situation, I was in the right about what I was talking about. I was crying and yelling over Dawn, because of the group and certain individuals were blaming our business-Day 26 business-on Dawn. So I was defending her. Besides all of that, it’s a show so it’s not that deep. I had that in the back of my mind, even though I was calling things out, it’s just a show. They have to making ratings and it’s not that serious. That’s how I was able to get through that. Even though it wasn’t right and you set yourself up going on T.V. and letting them edit your life, basically. You’re giving them the power to do whatever they want. However, you still keep in mind that it’s not that deep. It’s just Television, it’s all entertainment and God will move you out of places that aren’t right for you if this is really not right. That’s how I look at it.
EM: I think that’s a wonderful lesson for anyone in business especially if they’re working with other people. You have to choose your battles, yet at the same time you still have to stand up for yourself letting them know, “Look, I understand you have to do your job, but this is where I stand as an individual, this is what I believe in and this is what I will tolerate and not tolerate”.
When you talk about standards and when you talk about maintaining integrity and your dignity, how do you balance that with the duties of the people who are working with you?
QM: When I pray, I ask God to keep me humble. I ask Him to give me understanding and knowledge. So how I get through it…I don’t see myself and “Que…such and such…”, I see myself and Qwanell-you know what I mean? That’s how I get through all that. I look at it like its fake. It’s all an illusion. I’m not going to get a headache stressing about something that isn’t meant or something that is made to be against me if it’s not God’s will. That’s why I keep pushing forward. I’m not worried about what’s not for me, I’m just worried about getting through the testimonies so I can have a testimony to share with somebody who is going through the same struggle I’m going through.
EM: Teach on that! Yes sir!
You touched on spirituality and how that gets you through, and I think that people take those kinds of things for granted. I remember an episode of Making the Band where you all went to church. I think that was a very profound statement that you all made, because it’s one thing to profess that you believe, yet it’s another thing to actually apply that and show people you’re not concerned about what they may say or what they may think. Therefore, I want to commend you on taking that step and being courageous enough to do that.
QM: That was God’s spirit. I went in there shouting, I didn’t care. I didn’t care how people took it, I didn’t care what people said. All I know is that when I’m at church, when I feel the spirit I just dance. You don’t have to fall out and be crazy, but you can have a good dance that it’s the pocket and together…(laughing).
EM: (laughing) Right, right!
I want to take this opportunity to tell you how proud of you I am. You are a solo artist, which aside from coming away from a group, takes a lot of courage. Not everyone is able to do that. I downloaded and listened to your new mix CD, Guitar Her. I am beyond impressed! A person has their expectations only based on what they’ve heard…what I heard from Day 26 and your sound and how you were able to carry yourself. However, now you’ve been given the opportunity to really let go, you definitely did that! Wonderful work!
QM: Thank you (laughing)!
EM: That in itself is a great success and a great feat regardless of what people may say and whatever criticisms they may have.
In considering that task what, if any, inhibitions or questions may have come up about going solo, and how were you able to keep yourself motivated to go all the way?
QM: People are just excited for my solo career. I don’t want to be too excited and think about it… I don’t think about it… Honestly, even though I appreciate where God has placed me, I didn’t ask to be solo. I got removed from Day 26. They sent me a letter, so I’m still soaking it in myself. Just like how everyone else is excited, I’m excited myself. It’s a big responsibility. It feels like I’m carrying a cross. Everybody has these expectations of me.
I’m only 22 years old, so I’m still trying to figure this out. I don’t have a father, I don’t have no one telling me this is how you become a great business man. I don’t have people doing that. I’m figuring this out myself. So it is a big burden, but I think I can handle it. I just go with the flow and let God be God. Whatever God has for me, it’s for me. Whatever God has planned for my divine purpose, He’s going to design it. It’s not for me to worry about. It’s God Who has the power; it’s God Who’s doing it. That’s what I believe.
EM: That’s right! You’re teaching hard this morning!
Now with that being said I want to ask you about the importance of keeping really good, level-minded people around you. It’s one thing for you to be spiritually grounded, to be in tune with yourself and what’s going on. However, when you have other people who are in the equation working with you and for you, in what ways are you able to keep good people around using the spirit of discernment; to be able to feel out a good situation or a not so good situation?
QM: I talk to my advisor, a brother, who is very spiritual. Usually I get hurt, because I am such a good person. I give everybody an equal chance no matter who you are. When I meet someone I give them the same chance, like you’re my family.
I’m very in tuned with myself. I’m not perfect. We all sin and make mistakes. I’m not trying to sound like I’m the holiest person in the world, because I am not. I have done some crazy things in my life. What I am saying is that I’m normal. I’m not a product-making machine. I’m human. I think that a lot of people forget that I’m human. Even though it’s about the brand and the product… that’s how we make our money and that’s how we conduct business, but we’re also human. A lot of people forget we cry, we have feelings, and everything’s not always good just because we’re “such and such”. It doesn’t mean we’re not human. Unfortunately, many people don’t see that and it’s a scary thought. They put such a big burden on you; your friends and people who see your light a little bit brighter than you see your light. It makes you want to ask, “Yo, what’s wrong with you? I’m just walking in my purpose”.
EM: yes sir. You just sparked another thought. When you have people who are in the spotlight, whether they’re athletes or entertainers and depending on how they’re displayed will send a false image of that person.
QM: Right, right.
EM: You see them in their high moments; you see them when they’re making all of the shots, the blocks or the steals and when they have their best shows. However, rarely do you see them struggling. You rarely see that human side of them. Although it was in your moment of frustration, I think that you were able to show that human side in Making the Band.
EM: To see a person strong enough to show that side of themselves says a lot. I believe that we, who are on the other side of things, are missing the reality of what entertainers go through.
I agree with you in that you have to be normal and show that human side in order for you to even be able to give a testimony. People have to see your imperfections to be able to bear witness to the testimony you’re trying to give them. You can’t be a “perfect” person trying to give advice…they won’t be able to relate to you.
QM: Right! You struggle just like everybody else.
EM: Exactly, and I think that is one of your strengths; to be able to relate to people who are feeling your music, which is one of the things I believe, is a lost art. When you have authentic R&B or Hip Hop you have those singers and MC’s who were rocking the mic and engaging with the audience. They were able to relate to the audience and show themselves. So again, I commend you on having that strength, and use it to your advantage.
Last question. I want you to finish this statement for me.
Life is so unpredictable, and because of that reality at any given time one must be willing to…….
QM: Hmmm… Put it all on the line and go in faith. You can’t be scared to put it all on the line and go with that voice that you hear…that good voice. You got to go in faith and trust God and know that whatever He has for you, it’s for you. If God promised you heaven, He’ll give you heaven on Earth!
EM: Absolutely beautiful! Thank you very much.
To get a copy of Quitar Her mix CD, visit www.guitar-her.com.
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Click here to view the trailer for Qwanell Mosely: Beyond the Music.