Marsha Ambrosius is to R&B what Aubrey Graham is to Hip-Hop – a highly passionate and talented artist that is adored by fans, yet fiercely underestimated by others. Unconventional, and a bit awkward, Ambrosius doesn’t fit into a mold created for her, but rather, inconspicuously she creates a mold of her own; one that fans, and naysayers alike, never knew existed beneath her pale beauty and sultry melodies.
Washington, DC got their first glimpse of this new, unchained melody when the songstress took the stage at The Park at Fourteenth for an intimate performance. The show, brief in duration, but satiated in delivery, flowed like a VH1 Storytellers performance. From behind her keyboard, Ambrosius interacted with the crowd candidly between each song, taking the concertgoers on a musical journey that started in her heart and ended in her fingertips.
With the release of her debut album, Late Nights & Early Mornings, slated for release on March 1st, Ambrosius performed new material, which included the bittersweet ladies anthem “I Hope She Cheats On You (With a Basketball Player),” the heart-wrenching ballad “Far away,” and “With You,” a risqué track co-written with label-mate Alicia Keys. The songstress also performed fan favorites such as “Butterflies,” “Say Yes,” and “Feelings.” At the end of the 50-minute set, the crowd exploded, imploring her to stay. Humbled and joyous were the only emotions to be discerned on Ambrosius’ face as she thanked the crowd and exited the stage.
Planet Ill was fortunate enough to catch up with the London beauty to discuss her upcoming album, the memory of Michael Jackson, and why a scantily clad redhead is one of her favorite artists.
Planet Ill: How does it feel to be up there, just you?
Marsha Ambrosius: This is like an adventure to me. It’s exciting and new, you know? I was so used to being a part of a group, and when Nat [Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart] left the group, I didn’t know what to do or who I was on my own. But this journey has allowed me to discover who I am as an artist, what I want to say and what I want, versus what people expect of me. I feel like I can finally be me…well, I was always me, but now I’m more confident in being Marsha Ambrosius.
Planet Ill: That sounds liberating. You even smile when you talk about it.
Marsha Ambrosius: It has been [liberating].
Planet Ill: Much like now when we’re talking, your emotion spills over when you’re performing on stage. Is that where you’re most comfortable?
Marsha Ambrosius: I wouldn’t say it’s where I’m most comfortable. I’m comfortable making music in my car, in my apartment, in the studio, on stage, on the street. I’m comfortable when I’m making music that I love, and that I know people will love and relate to and enjoy.
Planet Ill: Do you feel like people will love, and relate to, and enjoy this album?
Marsha Ambrosius: I do. I hope so. I put all of me into this album. I don’t want to say it’s my most personal album, because everything I do is personal, but on this album I deal with so many different situations and raw emotions. I think people will feel what I’m feeling when they hear it.
Planet Ill: I agree. Like “Far away” for instance. That song is so beautiful and painful all at the same time. It was actually difficult to watch you perform it tonight.
Marsha Ambrosius: Oh, yes. That song gets harder and harder to perform each time. Every time I perform it, I wonder if I’m going to make it through the song. [Laughs] That song is personal for so many people and I’m just so glad that people can relate to me, and my music on such a personal level.
Planet Ill: Yes, and the video added another layer of emotion to the song. Kudos, by the way.
Marsha Ambrosius: Thank you. I wanted to take the song beyond one dimension and touch on an issue that I felt very passionately about. As someone who experienced being bullied as I child, I sympathize with those face with discrimination on any level. And if I could do anything to bring awareness and help be a part of the solution, I’m for it, you know?
Planet Ill: Were you surprised by the huge response?
Marsha Ambrosius: I was. I’m so thankful though. So thankful for everyone who has shared their stories and how this song has helped them deal with loss, or how the video has given them strength and support. Even the controversial remarks I’m thankful for, because at least people are paying attention now.
Planet Ill: What else can we look for on this album?
Marsha Ambrosius: Everything. Everything I was feeling, thinking; it’s all there.
Planet Ill: I noticed there weren’t any feature on the track listing. Any particular reason why?
Marsha Ambrosius: No, there aren’t any features on the album. I’ve worked with so many Hip-Hop artists; I can’t even name them all. That’s what a lot of people know me from, working with The Game or Fab [Fabolous] or Wale. But with this, this is me. I wanted people to get to know me on this album.
Planet Ill: I noticed Hip-Hop loves you. Are there any artists you love?
Marsha Ambrosius: Hmmm. You know what, I love Rihanna.
Planet Ill: Really?
Marsha Ambrosius: I knew that would throw you off. But I do, I think she’s talented and beautiful. I’ve known her for a long time, before the whole “good girl gone bad” stuff, and I’ve always been a fan.
Planet Ill: Interesting. Okay, back to the album. You did almost all of the production and writing on the album, yes?
Marsha Ambrosius: Mostly, but I also worked with some talented writers and producers. Like, Syience, whom I love, produced one of my favorite songs on the album, “Chasing Clouds.” I also worked with Dre and Vidal, whom I’ve worked with in the past.
Planet Ill: I’d ask if there was anyone you’re looking forward to working with, but I forgot I’m talking to Ms. “Butterflies” over here. Do you still reminisce over that?
Marsha Ambrosius: Absolutely. Many people don’t know, I’ve worked with him, but I knew him outside of music too. I knew the man that was hidden from everyone else. And to get the opportunity to work with someone as big as Michael Jackson, so early in my career, I mean it was, it’s still, amazing to me.
Planet Ill: There’ a song on the Late Nights & Early Mornings called “I Want You To Stay” that you performed at SOB’s last year. Was that written for Michael or in his memory?
Marsha Ambrosius: I wrote that song for Michael. We were working on it for his album.
Planet Ill: What an awesome way to pay homage. I don’t doubt that one day someone will be paying homage to you, in the same way.
Marsha Ambrosius: Stop. I can’t even think about that. [Laughs]
Planet Ill: I know you’ve been talking and singing all night so I’m going to release you now. [Laughs] Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts.
Marsha Ambrosius: Oh, no problem.
Follow Fawn Renee on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/fawnRenee
Follow Us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/planetill
Join Us on the Planet Ill Facebook Group for more discussion
Follow us on Networked Blogs