Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Q & A with Tendai Morris

Photo courtesy of BFREESTLOUIS

With a career that spans nearly 20 years, singer, songwriter, and artist developer Tendai Morris (formerly Tendai Price) is no stranger to the excitement of the mercurial music industry.  Hailing from a family of musicians, she learned the value of craftsmanship and professionalism early. Tendai wrote her first song, No One Wants to Be Alone, in the 8th grade.
In high school Tendai started a girl group called Passionnaee with the help of producer and friend Tony Sims. After the members of Passionnaee separated, Tendai (writer) and Sims (producer) teamed up with vocalists Tasha B. and Cherise Louis and the soulful R&B trio TIORAH was born.

The group got local buzz, but after shopping their music to different major labels and not being picked up, Tendai, who wrote and arranged the lyrics/vocals, and Tony Sims, who produced the music, decided that the group had enough songs to create an album.  Noonday Cafe was published on Sims's indie label A-440 Productions. Selling nearly 2000 copies of Noonday Cafe out of car trunks, the group gained popularity: first locally, then nationally, and then internationally, reaching #1 on the charts in Japan and #2 in the UK, solidifying Tendai's professional songwriting career. TIORAH took their show on the road, opening for major artists including Eric Benet and Stevie Wonder. 

Circa 1999
After 3 years of performing, TIORAH disbanded and Tendai focused on studio work and writing. She performed on the song "Catch-22" by the hip hop band Abyss and was credited with being the voice that popularized the song on Terrestrial radio. She also performed the chorus on the song "Po' Folks" by Nappy Roots, which was overdubbed by Anthony Hamilton in a common industry switcharoo. 

Tendai got married, mothered 3 boys, and flexed her entrepreneurial muscles as a master hair stylist while remaining active in music. She starred in the music video for the single "Stay in the Car" by Blue and currently hosts Cafe Soul, St. Louis's premier open mic. She recently landed a part in the upcoming musical Real Life, performing the song Strange Fruit, originally by Billie Holiday.

Tendai eventually wants to start her own label where she will continue coordinating bands, producing, and teaching young artists how to navigate the industry while having fun, maintaining integrity, looking fabulous, and getting paid. Ladies and gentlecreatures of the Galaxy, meet Tendai Morris!

Blue: Where are you from and what hood do you claim?

Tendai: Born and Raised in St. Louis, MO. Always wanted to live in another city... New York or LA...

B: How did you get started in music?

Actin' a fool...but she can play dem drums tho.

T: I grew up in a family of artists. My Dad and Mom both sang; not in church though. Jehovah's Witnesses. But we had a family band and that's where it all started.

B: Please share some of the highlights of your career as a vocalist and performer.

T: As a vocalist I was able to travel with my group called TIORAH.
We had the opportunity to open for many artists: Stevie Wonder, Boys 2 Men, Deborah Cox, Howard Hewitt. It was a ton of fun. I have also had the opportunity to work with many artists, children, and teens to help them develop into thriving artists themselves.

B: What have been some of your greatest lessons from the music industry?

T: The lesson I learned is that there is an audience for every artist. You just have to put your stuff out there and they manage to find you.

Rippin' a microphone with her band A-List
Candid moment in the studio
Doing what she do.
B: You are a wife and mother of 3 young boys. How has family life affected your career?

T: My boys are my biggest fans. They say, "Mommy when are you going to do music?" They never fuss when I have to gig or go to the studio. They understand my struggle! Family has helped me to not be so HELL BENT ON "making it big". I am satisfied with me and therefore I make music that I feel.

B: How did you get involved with Cafe Soul?

T: I was asked to do Cafe Soul by co-founder Nichol Stevenson. She knew me from my group days and new that I was really good at production and coordinating groups... and she knew that I was passionate about artists. It is a perfect blend.

B: Many in the St. Louis area know you as an indie artist advocate and supporter. What advice do you have for young artists in the game tryina make all that money; all that cash?

T: Don't focus on the money. Hone your craft and the money will focus on you.

B: If you could have a bowl of shrimp fried rice with any historical figure from the past present or future, who would it be and what would you talk about?

T: I would sit down with Michael Jackson. We would talk about anything but music. That's vague I know. I would ask him if he ever found out if Annie was ok.

B: What's next for Tendai Morris?

T: Well, I will be working on a compilation cd featuring singers that come through Cafe Soul and songs written by me and produced by Alonzo Lee from The Trak Starz. Excited! Also I am working on my own hair product line.

B: Where can the people find you?

T: Visit my Facebook page Hair By Tendai or on INSTAGRAM under Hair By Tendai

Thanks for visiting Uranus!

Tendai performing Next Lifetime at The Pageant in St. Louis, MO 

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