Tell us about yourself and your music
I’ve been singing since the age of 13 years old. I began singing at the world-famous “MET” in Philadelphia, PA. At that time, it was a church that had 4,500 seat capacity. My Aunt had me audition for the adult choir and I became one of their lead singers. I started writing at the age of 17 years old and did my first concert at the “MET” at 18 years old right before I went to college. I loved to sing and so I sang through college and in my spare time at church. I joined Dawkins New Sound, which was a professional choir in Philadelphia, and recorded with them and the song I led rose to the top 10 on the Gospel Charts. The name of the song was, “He’s Everything To Me” on Sweet Rain Records. After singing and recording with DNS, I began to sing Solo with my own band. I competed and won the best female vocalist KFC music competition. I loved to sing and write music, but I also loved to produce events, so I began bringing in major artists, which also gave me an opportunity to perform on stage with them. One of my greatest moments was when I wrote a spoken word song entitled, “Mama Said Be Healthy Wealthy and Wise”, which was featured on the album, “Healthy Food For Thought, Good Enough To Eat”, that was nominated for a Grammy Award. I have been writing and recording for over thirty years. I’ve shared the stage and produced shows with world-famous artists such as Shirley Caesar, WAR, Ohio Players, The Hawkins, Winans, and so many more. I am a member of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), Voting Grammy member, BMI Writer, owner of Red Door Music.
Talk to us more about your latest release
My latest project is entitled, “Things Will Get Better”, I have a Single out and video. The video has over 11,000 likes on Youtube. It can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and anywhere music is sold online. It can also be heard on Spotify, SoundCloud, and KKBox.
“Things Will Get Better” was written and produced by myself and my nephew Christopher Stephen’s who plays trumpet for John Legend. Chris and I got together and worked out the melody, I wrote the lyrics., Chris arranged the horns, violins, and music, we spent hours in the studio producing the project. It was a work of love. The musicians on the project are as follows: Phillip J. Collier (Piano), Suzzette Ortiz (Rhodes/Synthesizer), Donald C. Stevens Jr. (Bass), Brandon Mullen (Drums), Chelsey Green (Violins), Christopher Michael Stevens (Horn/String Arranger) (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Cheryl L. Stevens (BGV), Michelle Ray (BGV), Joseph “Joey” Hall (BGV), Children of Mastery Cramer Hill Elementary School, under the direction of LeJean Thompson, Children’s Choir (Theodosius Walker, Adriana Perez, Yesica Suang, Mosya Nelson, Jalyssa Pimentel, Dulce Ortega, and Emily Sanabria
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I used my first name, which is Yocontalie. I was using my nickname Connie for a while, but there were too many people with that name. I am the only Yocontalie, so my name stands out. I am also a member of the Indie Collaborative, an organization that has artists from all over the world. Being a member helps to get support from other indie artists in the organization. I am also keeping up with my fan base. Recently, my video on Youtube has been a great tool to share my music as well.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I enjoy listening to all types of music such as, “The Chicks” (Country Pop), Tasha Cobb (Gospel), Tamela Mann (Gospel), Kirk Franklin (Gospel), Vertical Current (Jazz), and Damien Escobar (Violinist).
Who are your biggest influences?
Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Mahalia Jackson, and Tramaine Hawkins
Tell us about your passions
I love to write and collaborate with other artists. My greatest passion is being able to create good music or produce an excellent show to see thousands of people smile and enjoy themselves through the process. Lastly, I enjoy giving others the opportunity to use their gifts.
What else is happening next in your world?
I am working on a new video entitled, “Jesus Jam”. The video will be a line dance video. I will use students from a local dance school in the city of Camden, New Jersey where I was born, raised, and currently live. I will also use some random people on the street. I will teach them the line dance that is pretty simple and just have fun. I am also working on a new EP that is in the beginning stages. Lastly, I am writing a book that I may title, “Searching For the Middle”, it is a story of my life, the ups, and downs and how I am always looking for the Middle, which is where I will find peace.