Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pheaturing Markeisha Ensley

Hello, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile. Man, it's cold. Can someone turn up the heat?  A Michigan lawyer has been arrested for manufacturing crystal meth in his office. I hope the fact that this guy's a lawyer doesn't send the message that somehow all meth dealers are sleaze balls.  Tim Tebow and actress Camilla Belle have called it quits. It just didn't work out. Kind of like Tebow and the quarterbacking thing, just didn't work out.  There's a photo going around with President Obama playing with a staffer's son who's dressed as Spider-Man. Obama was like, "Shouldn't you be fighting the Green Goblin?" And the kid was like, "shouldn't you be working on the fiscal cliff?"
The kid was really excited to meet the president, while Joe Biden was real excited to meet Spider-Man.  Are you sick and tired of hearing the term fiscal cliff? People don’t understand it. It doesn’t tell you how serious the situation is. They need more colorful metaphors. Here’s how to explain it... "It's 4 a.m. for our economy and Lindsay Lohan is behind the wheel." That says danger. People understand that.  I'm confident the fiscal cliff will get resolved before I'm able to comprehend an article about the fiscal cliff. The other day President Obama and John Boehner talked about the fiscal cliff for 45 minutes, but the White House will not release a transcript of their conversation. However, they did offer to have Joe Biden re-enact it with puppets. The Pentagon is preparing for massive budget cuts in the event that the country does go over the fiscal cliff. You can tell the Pentagon is scaling back because today it became the Triangle.  Enough of this fiscal cliff crap, let's talk about real stuff that matters. Did you guys see the "Doctor Who" Christmas special this year with the snowmen coming alive and shit? Well, it's actually happening in London as we speak...

At least they don't seem to be doing any harm. Speaking of London, there was a bus seen with an advertisement for a movie I never heard of.

This will be the last thing I'll say about England right now... in England next year for "Doctor Who's" 50th anniversary they are coming out with stamps... this is true. Check them out.

So, if any of my British readers would like to pick up a sheet for me... email me. One of the biggest movies to come out this year of course is The Avengers. You know, if I produced that movie Captain America would look like this...

And Black Widow would look like this!

Okay, it's time for another...

If you see it email me at A few weeks ago I think it was I introduced a new member to the Phile phamily. She is all the way from Scotland and is one individual who shoots from the hip, heart, camera, gun, sling-shot, tank... Please welcome back to the Phile... Debbie Bodacious.

To anyone in a relationship who acts like they were born joined at the hip in some Siamese couple mutation... you were born with your own mind and body. I highly doubt you shit together (exceptional few) so why remain glued to each other the rest of the time? Stop referring to them as your "other half". It not only causes mass nausea, but mathematically it makes NO FUCKING SENSE. If you are one of these offenders, quit being a fucking moron, grow a pair, and remember not every decision you make has to orbit around your equally moronic "other half".

Good job, Debbie. And for the record, I don't think I ever called my wife the other half. I have to ask her if she ever referred to me as her other half, but I doubt it. She probably refers to me as a pain in her ass though. Debbie, happy new year.

Today's pheatured guest is a NYC based singer-songwriter whose new EP "Talk To Me" is available on iTunes. She'll next be appearing at Sullivan Hall in New York City on February 16th. Please welcome to the Phile... Markeisha Ensley.

Me: Hello, Markeisha, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Markeisha: Hi, Jason! I'm glad to be on the Phile!

Me: Thanks. Before we get into all the things you do, I have to ask you about your name. I am 44 years old and have never heard of the name Markeisha before. What does it mean?

Markeisha: My mother made up my name. She was a fan of the name "Keisha", but wanted to add something unique to it. So, here I am, Markeisha.

Me: Do people call you Mark or Markie?

Markeisha: I actually don't really have any nicknames. One of my friends will sometimes call me Mark because she knows it annoys me!

Me: Alright, where are you from?

Markeisha: I grew up in Aurora, Colorado.

Me: You're based in New York City now, right? When did you move from Colorado to New York? Was that a big culture shock for you?

Markeisha: Yes, I'm based in NYC now and I love it here. I first moved here when I attended NYU and just ended up staying after graduation. Coming here from Colorado was the busiest, noisiest and most hectic culture shock that you could imagine!

Me: So you didn't move because of your music career?

Markeisha: When I left for college, I knew that I would wanted to somehow be involved in music, but I wasn't sure in which way.

Me: I downloaded your recent EP "Talk To Me" off from iTunes and like it a lot. I was a bit hesitant as you have been compared to Alicia Keys and Anita Baker, two musicians I don't like, but you are better then both of them put together. Are you influenced by those two women?

Markeisha: Thanks, Jason! I'm influenced by a lot of artists, definitely. I love the way that Anita Baker interprets a song vocally. You can always hear the emotion in her voice. And I love Alicia Keys' piano playing and the melodies she writes. I listen to and am influenced by all styles of music, from pop and R&B to country and musical theater.

Me: I can definitely hear some Motown influences in your work, am I right?

Markeisha: Yes, definitely! My parents were big fans of Motown, so when I was little, I'd go through their great record collection and listen to everything.

Me: "Talk To Me" is your second release. Your first was the album "Ready". How are the two releases different?

Markeisha: I've definitely grown as an artist, songwriter and singer since my first album was released. I really like my first record, but I think I've become a better songwriter since that release. I love the new album because it's got more of jazz influence and there was more collaboration with my producer and band this time around, which made the songs turn out better than I'd envisioned. As a singer, I've also grown more into my own sound on the second release.

Me: What made you follow up the album with an EP, instead of another album?

Markeisha: I had a bunch of songs that I wanted to record, but I really liked the idea of picking my five favorites and recording those. I like that I can release an EP and focus on promoting those songs and because my albums are self-financed, it's easier to budget for an EP.

Me: You started singing in a church choir, right? How old were you when you realized you wanted to make singing or performing a career?

Markeisha: I was probably 6 or 7 when I started singing in my church's children's choir. I do remember at that young age wanting to sing solos and be the one out in front! Also, there was woman in the adult choir who would play the piano and sing and I remember always loving it when she performed a song. I knew in high school that I wanted to get to New York and pursue music.

Me: You also play piano, Markeisha. Did you take a lot of lessons growing up?

Markeisha: I started playing piano when I was in high school. We didn't have a piano at home when I was growing up, so I remember whenever I was in a room with a piano, I always wanted to start playing around on it. I really started studying piano and songwriting when I was in college.

Me: I have to ask you about this, you sang at the Smithsonian in Washington DC with Lamont Dozier. How did that happen and what was that experience like? What songs did you do?

Markeisha: Singing at the Smithsonian was such a great experience! I had entered a songwriting contest sponsored by BMI and was selected to perform my song, "Spend My Life", at the museum. And as such a huge Motown fan, it was an real honor to meet Lamont Dozier and perform in front of him. A lot of the Motown songs that I love, he wrote, so it was pretty fantastic.

Me: You played all over the place, Markeisha. What was your favorite gig you have played?

Markeisha: I had a gig playing at venue in St. Barth's in the Caribbean and that was amazing! The scenery, the food, the people and performing every night was a dream! It was three weeks of heaven and I can't wait to go back!

Me: Do you have a group of steady musicians that you play with?

Markeisha: Yes, I have a fantastic band that I've been playing with for the last 3 years. They are a great group of guys that make my music sound great!

Me: Apart from singing you also did some theatre acting, Markeisha. What are some shows you have played in?

Markeisha: Two of my favorite shows that I've done are "Caroline, or Change" as the Radio and "Jamaica", as the lead, Savannah.

Me: Do you prefer singing in a concert your own songs or doing plays?

Markeisha: I really love doing both things, but I love singing in a concert the most. I love song interpretation, whether it be singing my own song or doing a cover tune.

Me: Is there one play you haven't been that you would love to?

Markeisha: I'd love to be in a production of "Little Shop of Horrors", "Aida and Porgy and Bess".

Me: You also teach, right? Is that in New York?

Markeisha: Yes, I work as a teaching artist, teaching at various schools around NYC.

Me: I take it you teach music, am I right?

Markeisha: I primarily teach music and singing, but occasionally I have a teaching artist residency teaching drama. I do a lot of work with special needs students, which I enjoy a lot.

Me: Have you been a teacher for long?

Markeisha: I've been working as a teaching artist for about 5 years now. It's a great way to do work that's artistic, but it take the focus off of yourself after you've spent so much time promoting yourself as an artist.

Me: You are a part of LIFEBeat's Heart and Voices Program. What is that and what do you do in the program?

Markeisha: I've been a part of LIFEBeat H&V for 4 years. It's a program where musicians perform for patients with HIV/AIDS and it's also another rewarding way to share your talents. I've had a great time being a part of the program.

Me: Before I let you go, I have to ask you about this, I saw a picture of you with Lady Antebellum. I have it here...

Me: Are you a fan of them? You said you like country, right?

Markeisha: I like country music because of the storytelling in the songwriting. I am a big fan of Lady Antebellum! "Just a Kiss" is one of my favorite songs!

Me: How did you meet them? And where?

Markeisha: I was able to go to the meet and greet at their concert at Radio City earlier this year. They sang a song a capella and took questions. It was a lot of fun and I really wish every artist would do that before the show!

Me: Did you tell them you were a singer as well?

Markeisha: I told them I was a songwriter and that I loved their songs!

Me: Markeisha, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope I didn't mess up your name. Is there a website you wanna plug?

Markeisha: Thanks for having me on the Phile, Jason! I'd love for people to visit my website:

Me: Please come back when your next release comes out, will you?

Markeisha: Most definitely!!

Me: Hey, I'd like to hear you do a country album, Markeisha. Take care and continued success.

Markeisha: Maybe the next EP will be all country tunes, that sounds like fun. I'll keep you posted! Thanks, Jason!!

Well, that about does it. Thanks to Debbie Bodacious and of course Markeisha. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the last entry of the year with The Venetian. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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