Stay ready. You always want to be prepared for what you ask for and when the opportunity comes, you have to be ready. I missed out on some great opportunities in the beginning of my career because I wasn’t “ready.”
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Esnavi, Top 40 Recording Artist — Print Model and Voiceover Artist.
Hailing from Milwaukee, Esnavi, is a multifaceted artist with a voice of undeniable soul, lyrics of thought provoking truth, and music that harmoniously blend everything in between. Exit E received critical acclaim from many industry insiders as one of the Best Albums from an independent artist. Her debut single, Unexpected Love reaches the top 40 on the Urban Adult Contemporary Charts shortly after its release and remained there for over 15 weeks. Her music has been heard on WBLS 105.7 FM New York, VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Music Choice R&B Soul Channel and numerous radio stations around the country.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in the inner city of Milwaukee, WI where dreams don’t particularly come true. I saw a guy die on my block when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I was fortunate to come from a middle class family so, although my surroundings were full of blight, it did not deter my optimism. I always felt that I was destined for a better life and that I wouldn’t end up like the other kids in my neighborhood. I was probably the only person in my neighborhood that graduated from college. When I decided to pursue a career in music, I was determined to not let anything stop me. I believed I could be successful despite the obstacles.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
Oh wow, there have been so many funny and interesting things that have happened in the course of my career. I would have to say when I was contacted to perform with Common on The Wendy Williams Show. I went to rehearse the female vocal part with Common and his band and I completely bombed!!! I knew the song and I was feeling myself like, I’m going to kill this part. I went in and I don’t know if it was nerves or just being unprepared, but I sounded so bad. Ha ha ha!! Needless to say, I did not end up performing with him on Wendy. I still laugh at that to this day.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My next album, Detour. I’m so excited about it! I feel like this is going to be the album that takes my career to the next level. That’s how good I feel about it.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Several years ago when the MTV Awards were in New York my dear friend and makeup artist, Ruben Torres, and I attended and this was before my debut album, Exit E, was released. We had VIP access so we entered through the same door as all of the celebrities. We end up on an elevator with Jay-Z and the whole ride up I’m like OMG, OMG, OMG….It’s Jay-Z!!! But I played it cool, and just said, “Dope suit.” I don’t recall him responding but whatever fragrance he was wearing smelled like a million dollars. We get off the elevator and we enter an abyss of stardom. Beyonce appears and it’s another OMG moment. She looks unreal and I tell her, “I love your dress.” and in a very demure voice, she says, “Thank you” with a huge smile. Then Kanye appears with Amber Rose and I tell him, “I love your music! I’d love to work with you.” He responded with a very Ye-like head nod. That was as far as my interaction went.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, just to name a few. They dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others in such a compromising way that touches my soul and inspires me on so many levels.
What would you advise to an aspiring artist who would like to emulate your career?
Be you. Sharing your authentic self with the world will take you farther than you can imagine.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Aside from focusing on creating good music to share with the world, I’ve used my platform to bring awareness to Global Citizen. Global Citizen is a community of people, of which I am an active part, committed to social change to address issues such as poverty, healthcare, education, hunger and much more on a global scale.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
1) Give everyone the side eye. Until someone has proven they deserve your trust, don’t trust them. I was naive in the beginning and thought everyone who approached me with an opportunity had my best interest in mind. They didn’t.
2) Don’t pursue this for money. I pursued music because I love it, but I also wanted to make money. I soon realized that this is not an industry to make money fast. Unless you’re a rare overnight success that goes viral on YouTube or something, be patient for those checks to start rolling in.
3) It will require a huge investment in yourself. You have to invest so much of your time, your money, your energy and everything else you have to be taken seriously and to become successful.
4) It takes time. I heard stories about people who seemed like they came out of nowhere and blew up. Truth is, they were doing it for years. I know now that it takes time to reach certain levels in this industry and at first I thought it could happen magically overnight.
5) Stay ready. You always want to be prepared for what you ask for and when the opportunity comes, you have to be ready. I missed out on some great opportunities in the beginning of my career because I wasn’t “ready.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Oprah Winfrey. I admire her so much and I’d love to just sit down and have a really genuine one on one conversation with her.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!