Still Standing!! An Intimate Conversation With Singer/Songwriter Tymara Walker
One of the most eloquent and blessed voices of our time, Tymara Walker, set the stage musically Christmas 2016 when she gained worldwide fame from a video of her singing an impromptu rendition of “Oh Holy Night” in a D.C. subway station. The video of Walker’s breathtaking solo went viral. Before her voice touched the people of the world, they were sharpened singing on the steps of her father’s church. Since 2016, Tymara has entertained millions at various events such as the House of Blues Gospel Brunch at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, and the Cirque du Solei show Michael Jackson: One. She is the founder and director of the Songbyrd /Pure Joy Choirs and will be hosting a live stream concert on October 23, 2020, to bring awareness to Domestic Violence. She has a new song called, “Love Smiles” which will be featured in the soundtrack for the blockbuster movie, All Between Us, featuring Tiffany Haddish and Brian Hooks.
Image for post
LS: Who has inspired your journey throughout your walk in the music industry?
TW: I would have to give that credit to my father. He was a Pastor and a vocal coach, and he passed away 21 years ago. My father knew at an early age the potential of my voice. When I was younger, the first thing he put me in was classical piano lessons, then voice lessons, and then he worked on my image. He always told me that I had to be a little tougher than the average singer was because there were many singers out here. I had a gift, and he knew it. I had to learn early on that the only way that I was going to share my gift effectively was not to be afraid to take a chance, and not be afraid to do something different. My father passed away when I was 20 and I went through a whole lot of experiences. He has been gone 21 years now, and I promise in the last three months, I have said to my husband at least ten times, you know, my dad was right. Everything that he told me since I was younger, have helped me not give up my dreams. This is not an easy industry to be in, and I have been doing this for a long time.
LS: How did you maintain your integrity in such a tainted industry?
TW: For me, having a standard has made a lot of difference. I just never felt like I needed to be in my underwear in order for people to hear the message in my music. I appreciate being a beautiful woman. I think all Black women are beautiful. We do not have to show our bodies for people to experience our talents and gifts.
Image for post
LS: What is your creative process like?
TW: My creative process is completely confusing. I have been writing songs since I was a teenager. I went to a predominantly White Catholic, all-girls high school. So now, years later, I have two children that are both musicians, and I write for them. I may hear the music before I hear the words. Either way, whatever lyrics I write for that song, when it’s time to go in the studio and record it, I will completely scrap it and rewrite the song on the mic. But I can’t rewrite it on the mic. I wrote it first on paper to throw away. It’s odd, but it’s the only thing that works. And with my children and myself playing instruments, it’s a little different because I can share it with my kids at any time. We have our personal time, our tough conversations, and our life lessons. So all of that is tied to it, which I think makes it so much easier for me to just write about anything because I promise I have something to apply to it.
LS: What do you want your fans to experience through your music?
TW: I want my fans to know there is more to me than just singing. I want them to know me personally. As a mother, vocal coach, lightweight comedian, and as a wife, the music is great, and I put myself into it. I am someone who may have shared your experiences, or maybe in them right now, like this pandemic. I want them to understand that I’m relatable.
LS: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
TW: Oh, that is a very evolved question. Well, I am an independent artist, so I definitely get and understand the struggle. The things that artists go through trying to get their music heard by the world when you’re not represented by a major label. I’m not saying there have not been strides in that direction, because there have. But I do wish that the playing field was just a little more level for all artists. I wish that there were some sort of middle-ground for independent artists to not be so far away from artists like Cardi B. Especially when artists are producing the same level of talent and music.
LS: What are some personal hurdles that you face and how did you overcome them?
TW: My current husband found me after I was in a terrible marriage, and it ruined my self-esteem. I was abused physically and emotionally which actually prompted me to start the campaign that I did in 2016. But between ending that marriage and my current husband finding me, I was not all the way convinced that music was worth it anymore. I had been trying to break into the gospel industry, and I was singing background with Jay Moss and traveling with him, Marvin Sapp, and Fred Hammond. I just did not feel like singing had a purpose. So when I met my husband, he kind of forced me to answer some questions about myself and I had to go through a tough process. Somehow, I had to figure out what my purpose in the industry was. I needed to shut down my persona and let go of all of that sadness and depression. And that was the beginning of my transition into who I am now. I’ve been through too much to not speak on what needs to be spoken on. There were moments in my first marriage that I wish I had a chick that was bold enough to be like, have you lost your mind? Why are you still in this? If I had that, I would not have stayed in that marriage as long as I did. So you know, it was just a matter of really identifying what I needed to do to create my tomorrow.
LS: Tell me about Songbyrd?
TW: Originally, it came from my father. I would sing in church and he would always yell from wherever and say, “Better than the Mockingbird because mockingbirds needed to rest. Soon he started calling me the Songbird. Well, when I got to Vegas, I had been here maybe a year, had a couple of gigs on the strip. I started going to the church that I sang for during one of their anniversaries. They wanted a sunshine band or a children’s choir. But I don’t believe in sunshine bands because there’s just a whole bunch of kids doing a lot of yelling and all the adults would say, “Amen to that.” So I took the few kids that I had, my three, then a couple more kids came, and the next thing I know I had 80 children. We were bigger than every music ministry that they had at Mountaintop Church. We have the Las Vegas Academy for the Performing Arts out here, which is a very high end, very pretentious school. It’s very hard to get into and I had a lot of parents asking me about coaching their kids for those auditions. Fast forward, that turns into 20 vocal students. One day the Executive Director of Junior NBA asked me to do something different with the national anthem. I grabbed up a few of the kids from the church, a few of the kids that I taught privately, and created Songbyrd, the Choir. They definitely outdid their expectations. They ended up signing us at the MGM Summer League. Then we were asked to be a brand ambassador for the Junior NBA. So that was huge in establishing the brand. And of course, it includes me as an artist.
LS: How has COVID affected your brand?
TW: Well I have a live band that I play keys in; I also have a section in my studio for all things music. From vocal coaching to artist development, I have multiple talents and I used them all. I was performing live in Vegas every week at the Mayfair Supper Club inside the Bellagio. Then everything closed and all of my performing opportunities were on hold. There was no way to monetize anything musically unless I came up with something different. So I started grabbing kids. We socially distanced and I started producing a concert live on Facebook every other Wednesday. I put the CashApp up and found an app that I can post and have my brand posted all the time. I don’t know when I’m gonna get back on stage, so I had to do something different.
LS: Tell us about your live concert on October 23 at 6 pm pst /9 pm est.
TW: I’m going to be doing some covers, but I’m also going to be doing quite a few originals. I will have my kids back and the band in the background. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I am a victor over Domestic Violence, which is a cause that really tugs at my heart. I’m going to be performing my song “Love Doesn’t Hurt,” which I released a few years ago. The point of the concert is to try to reach anybody that knows somebody that knows somebody in a situation where they’re being abused physically or emotionally. I want to get the attention of people and let them know if you don’t want to call Shade Tree, Salvation Army, or the police… you can talk to me.
Image for post
LS: What’s next for Tymara Walker?
TW: I’m getting ready to shoot a video in November for the “Fried Chicken” song. I wrote it about my husband as I was frying chicken. It doesn’t have a video yet, but it’s in the movie All Between Us with Tiffany Haddish and Brian Cooks. It’s a love song and I want to do a video. With all of the issues going on racially in this country, I think it’s important that we show a visual to the world that Black families are whole. There is a belief that our children don’t have fathers and we don’t have families made up of two parents. That visual is very important to get out. The Civil Rights Movement happened in the 60s, but today we are still dead smack in the middle of it.
Stay Connected to Tymara Walker
Instagram / Twitter: @tymarasings
Facebook: Tymara Walker