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ABOUT BRAVE WILLIAMS:
Call it her parents’ prophetically-ordained choice of first names for a baby girl or divinely inspired coincidence – as per textbook definitions which encompass everything from “a bit daring” and “ready to face and endure” to “without showing fear” – singer/songwriter/SAG-AFTRA actress BRAVE WILLIAMS has been nothing less than courageous, spirited, determined and dauntless in her whirlwind rise to notability within the worlds of music and entertainment over the course of the past few years. Having quickly and effectively established herself as that simultaneously “sultry and edgy while everyday relatable” songstress whose “Oooh Luv Ya” and “Road Trippin’” 2015 singles set off buzzworthy online presence and fast-growing download support, in definitively brave fashion, BRAVE WILLIAMS more than lives up to the meaning of her name as she precedes her audacious, anticipated self-titled full-length debut set (a Brave New World/SRG ILS/Universal Group release) with the recent release of her oh-so-sultry R&B beat-ballad latest single, “Don’t Tell Me No.”
With her now signature self-assurance paired with a heavy dose of vocal temptress; the lovelorn, “old-school-slow-grind-meets-slinky-paced-modern-R&B” flow of “Don’t Tell Me No” finds the vocalist noted for championing her girls actually addressing the fellas this go ‘round, all while examining relationship “goings-on” and vulnerabilities both genders can easily relate to. “It’s completely relationship-driven,” Brave explains, upon sharing the inspiration for the song, “based on conversations I’ve had with my sisters and best friends. Men always have this idea that they have to be strong and powerful with whatever it is that’s going on. And men are just as scared as women to fall in love. So to me, it was like a declaration to men like ‘I know you’ve been through some things that have your protective wall up, but don’t let that heartache or disappointment become your permanent identity. You can still be open to fall in love, but fear will keep that blessing from happening.’ Because there’s so much noise happening – like politics, the social climate and things on the news – I want people to be reminded that love can slice through all of that…and kill all the noise. I want that to be welcomed, and I want people to be invited to always go back to love despite everything’s that’ going on.” Though attitude-laced, ladies’ anthem-styled singles like 2017’s bouncy, head-boppin’ “U Tried it” and early 2020’s deep-bouncin’ “Options” may have empowered the ladies, she’s ultimately a fair and equal opportunity (musical) communicator. “I am so pro-women, like I am always here for my girls,” she ponders upon the mention of feminism, “but I never want anyone to think or take my interpretation that I’m anti-man, because I’m not anti-man. I love my men, which is why I wrote ‘Don’t Tell Me No,’ because I wanted to speak to my men like ‘I know you’re scared. I know that you can be feeling some type of way about love and relationships. But let’s do this together; don’t tell me no.’”
Largely produced by Ivan Barias (Musiq Soulchild/Mary J. Blige/Chris Brown) while Brave handled songwriting alongside co-writers Brittany Barber (John Legend/Ty Dolla/Love & Hip Hop Hollywood) and Kristal Tytewriter (Diddy/Chrisette Michele), multifaceted Brave’s anxiously-awaited Brave Williams full-length LP aims to make good on the promise and hoopla generated by the release of her Fearless EP (2015) and its breakthrough singles. “Ivan is part of my Philly team whom I’ve known for several years now,” she shares. “He actually produced a lot of my records on Fearless. Once we met through [our mutual manager] Michael we just clicked. So it’s actually Ivan and Tytewriter [I worked with]; she’s a Philly-based songwriter who’s worked with Diddy, Ledisi and Estelle…and she’s also an engineer. So she engineers all my sessions.”
Hence, beyond the independent woman-themed “Options” and the love introspection of “Don’t Tell Me No,” the BRAVE WILLIAMS contemporary hip-hop/R&B music listeners have come to know musically and melodically elaborates and narrates an everyday love journey with a debut set that manages to tell a full-fledged story. “This new album is me being totally transparent about relationships; so I’m taking you through the beginning, the middle and the end of relationships,” says the sassy siren of her Brave Williams debut. “Whatever those emotions are, it’s telling a complete story. So in the beginning, when you’re extremely happy and have that full love feeling, is something I wanted to capture with the uptempo songs. Or going in the middle when you realize ‘Ok wait a second; the person I met six months ago has left the building’ and it’s like “Who is this guy? Let’s not forget that I still need you to treat me like you treated me in the beginning.’ And it takes you all the way to the end, whatever the end might be; if you’re happy, there are happy songs on there. And if it’s a breakup or even some of my own trials and tribulations that’s I’ve experienced in relationships, I’ve definitely penned those songs. It’s kinda like a diary…..a relationship diary [which is a bit scary].”
As it turns out, the seeds for her talent and penchant for storytelling can be traced to her early Baltimore, Maryland-based childhood…more specifically in the back-seat of her Mom and Dad’s red Chevy, on a day she vividly recalls hearing legendary rapper Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up.” “I remember it like it was yesterday; I was mesmerized,” Brave recounts. “I know that I had heard hip-hop before that moment, but that was the first time that it really resonated with me and I started writing. I really just started writing poems. I had no idea I could sing because I started out rapping.” Always quick to showcase her rapping and spoken word skills at open mics, she confesses that she stumbled onto the notion that she could sing upon trying to turn one of the raps she’d written into a song. That epiphany spurred a newfound exploration and appreciation of the R&B of her generation (“I love Faith Evans, Jill Scott since her first album and ‘What’s the 411?’ by Mary J, because she was like the perfect marriage of hip-hop and R&B”), as well as more classic R&B from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bobby Caldwell and one of her idols, 80s singer/songwriter/musician Patrice Rushen.
Armed with her newfound appreciation of soul/R&B and burgeoning songwriting talent while honing her singing chops, characteristically ballsy go-getter Brave ventured and dared to develop her craft partaking in countless local open mics, one of which permanently changed the direction of her life and fast-forming music career. “Someone in the crowd pulled me aside after I got off stage [one night] and said ‘I wanna introduce you to a producer in D.C. who’s looking for an artist,’” she recounts. “From that, I was introduced to [producer] Rich Harrison (Beyonce/Amerie), I signed a solo deal with Columbia Records and I never let them know that I had just learned how to sing two weeks before.” Thus the spirited determination which defines her very name arose, in which case she admittedly “faked it. I was like ‘Yeah, I could sing’ and once I got in the studio they could tell I was undeveloped. So once ‘the cat was out the bag’ I knew I didn’t want to lose my deal, but I needed to put myself around singers so I could grow. So that’s how I came up with Richgirl.” Signed to Jive Records, though the female quartet (which also included fellow siren Sevyn Streeter) captured the attention of an immediately awestruck urban audience with their mad-tight Harrison-produced “He Ain’t Wit Me Now,” which fans concluded should have been huge and remains a multi-million-viewed VEVO music clip, the group never quite got off the ground.
However, when you’re the living and breathing synonym for the word “brave” – in fact, indomitable – you move one, following your creativity and passion where fate takes you. In the case of BRAVE WILLIAMS, that meant persistently pursuing her dreams, adeptly learning from her experiences and exposure and seizing opportunities presented until that eventual “right place, right time” scenario. “It was because of that experience [with the group] that I got the knowledge to start my own label,” admits Brave, “just to learn the administrative work a major label actually does. To learn the type of work that’s required of an artist…like the long hours and tour life. It gave me tools to really navigate and properly start my own label (Brave New World). That’s what I did after the group disbanded and then that’s when I put out my first song, ‘Ooh Luv Ya.’ Then I hired everyone I needed [like a street team], the PR and ‘this and that’ to get that song on radio. And so when that started playing on radio, that’s what got the attention of R&B Divas (TV-One reality show).” Like a fast-rolling, momentum-building snowball, Brave commenced to not only recording her Fearless EP with subsequent singles and landed noted acting roles in VH-1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story biopic, BET’s Angrily Ever After, her first leading role in Netflix’s Love Dot Com and BET’s The Christmas Lottery (alongside Greenleaf’s Asia Epperson and Family Matters’ Reginald Vel Johnson), but embarked on her passion for philanthropy though hands-on work and involvement with Associated Black Charities, the Baltimore area’s St. Francis Mentorship Program and City Women’s Shelter, acting as Ambassador/lead lrainer for the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Girls Who Rule The World girls’ mentorship program (for 200 young girls from around the world); and advocating health, fitness training and wellness through her very own Brave Williams Fitness Club. The club’s specialization in weight loss, diet nutrition, personal training, tailored fitness plans and increasing muscle mass is a personal passion she takes quite seriously and a source of great pride given its results in her local community. “In the last two years I’ve transformed 3,200 bodies,” proudly shares ISSA-licensed (International Sports and Science) certified trainer, Brave, “from women who were morbidly obese and those who’ve suffered from diabetes, to heart palpitations and other illnesses. It’s always my goal to get them off the various medications and another thing that I’m really passionate about.”
In the meantime, music listeners can also rest assured that same exact level of creative passion was invested into every song that comprises her curiously-awaited Brave Williams debut collection. “I wanted to be transparent in my moment and that was the moment of writing this album and reflecting on everything. I want people to relate to it. I want to be able to inspire the people who hear the songs. And if they’re in that type of relationship at that time, they can use some of my records as navigation on how to handle what they’re feeling. My whole purpose is to inspire.” Sounds to me like the musical mission taken on by beautiful and multi-talented BRAVE WILLIAMS was much more than accomplished.