Edge Control: The Project Everyone Needs to Hear

 

Words by Amiyah Golden

As a huge proponent of the arts in this city, I find myself frequenting many local showcases, bars and album releases — wherever art resides I follow — and it’s always a treat to experience some of the purest forms of talent … especially when it’s by accident. 

 

Anyone can sing, anyone can write, and anyone can produce. But not everyone can perform and own the stage like local artist, Ebonique. 

 

I remember visiting the monthly installment of the former talent showcase, The Potluck, that highlighted numerous local artists. With each performer bringing something to the table — hence, the name — they each shared their own dish of original music, acting as the appetizer to the main course — and on this particular Sunday, it was Ebonique.

 

I had known a few of the openers prior, so I was already aware of the talent they oozed. I knew we were going to be fed by them, but it did not prepare me for the meal Ebonique brought to the table. 

 

With a full band and backup singers to accompany her stellar vocals, she commanded the stage and the audience with ease. 

 

My ears perked up to the embrace of a familiar sound that exuded soul but also a distinct uniqueness in her lyricism from her project Edge Control. 

 

I was impressed, to say the least — as I always am when it comes to the talent that inhabits this city — but Ebonique’s style was effortless and was needed that night — from Black women to Black women. 

 

With Ebonique performing various songs from her EP, “Edge Control,” it was a performance that resonated with me. With the songs from this project serving as a double entendre regarding the Black women’s experience, it gave space for authentic expression in the realm of struggle, power, and grace as a Black woman.

 

“In a world where people are always trying to tell Black women who we can be and who we can’t be, I feel like our hair is the first thing that we can take control over,” said Ebonique. “If we want a change, we’re going to cut it. If we want to do our edges, we can. When it looks good, we feel good. It symbolized a lot for me. I feel like my mission is to translate the Black women’s experience through my eyes. Let me talk about what we go through as Black women and what I am going through, and let’s use Black hair to make it palatable.” 

 

Ebonique’s mission was complete that night with men, women, Black and white alike, nodding their heads to the rhythm along with receiving lyrical narration on behalf of Ebonique and her ensemble. It was a performance that stuck with me for months. I was finally able to sit down with the singer and dive into her story and her artistry.

 

Ebonique’s musical journey began in the church as she grew up singing in the choir. It was the introduction to music she needed as it pushed her into becoming a singer — along with many nights spent downtown at the Ritz Theatre, as her sister was the winner of the very first Amateur Nights at the Ritz.

 

As an alumna of Florida State University, Ebonique’s musical journey did not end when college began. This is where she picked up songwriting and wrote her first single, “Back and Forth,” inspired by recent events in her own college experience. With college serving as the place of discovery for her ability to write songs, it was another added bonus to her skillset as a multi-faceted artist. 

 

In addition to her own personal musical endeavors, Ebonique also serves as a program director for the local non-profit, Jacksonville Music and Arts School (JAMS.) With the joy of pouring into the youth, Ebonique delights in her job as a teacher, working with children ranging from elementary school to high school students. 

 

Although Ebonique hopes to pursue music full time, her gift as an educator will always remain. 

With aspirations to maybe one day start her own label or teach a master class, the spirit of educating others will always remain. 

 

The power of teaching serves as a personal testament to Ebonique, as she takes much inspiration from one of her mentors, Deborah McDuffie, who serves as the creative director at the Ritz Theatre and was also her former chorus teacher. Ebonique credits McDuffie for influencing her to become a vocal instructor. McDuffie also serves as a local legend for many musicians and is credited for helping singer Luther Vandross rise to fame. 

 

Along with McDuffie, Ebonique draws inspiration from artists such as Jill Scott, Ari Lennox, and Anita Baker. 

 

“I pay attention to what artists are doing beyond the music. That’s why I’m inspired by artists like Jill Scott, Pharrell and Queen Latifah.”

 

Ebonique truly has the ability to reach into the same spaces of those she esteems. 

 

With many projects and ideas in the works, we may hear a change of sound from the singer. Ebonique shared with me her aspirations to produce a rap album and merge her sound into the genre of soft-rock. Ebonique is also fluent in French, and I am anticipating a song or an album in French (this is a personal request), but there is truly nothing stopping her from being a powerhouse!

 

Make sure you check out Ebonique and her project, Edge Control. You will not be disappointed and that’s a promise!

 

To keep up with Ebonique, visit her website at eboniquebrooksmusic.com.

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