Jammerzine has an exclusive interview with the multi-talent known as Branjae. Currently in the midst of her Debut Tour, her music is at that stage where it goes from defining itself to evolving as a brand. Yes, I said it here. Branjae is an artist whose music will outlive the musician. She is one of those artists that ‘gets it’.
And, in this interview, I talk with Branjae about her current plans and endeavors as well as where, in her soul, does her music come from and what inspires her.
Branjae is the personification of Classic Soul, Funk, and R&B. She is an artist, activist, dancer, singer, and actress who empowers women and inspires hope for us all. She asks “why not” through her music, challenging listeners to embrace their natural selves. Branjae is a fearless, headstrong, and energetic woman who happens to be Black. Her lyrical depth, energetic theatrical performances, and out of the box genre fluidity are as unique as the personas she embodies. Branjae’s music remains in touch with the human experience in a creative way. Her style of storytelling keeps it real while constantly evolving based on her truths.
The training wheels came off for Branjae when she learned to master manipulate her vocal arrangements while singing with a cover band in front of live audiences. And in 2019, her presence catapulted with her project, Street Light, which premiered in Billboard Magazine. The project also captured the attention of AfroPunk, which debuted the single as well as an Op-Ed written by Branjae. Street Light was exclusively premiered at Tulsa’s own Circle Cinema, and was sponsored by Tulsa nonprofits such as DVIS, Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture, and Circle Cinema. Branjae exudes charm as she creates content meant to move the needle toward change.
As a result, Street Light earned her the Best Female Artist Award at the Black Wall Street Music Awards as well as five nominations at the Tulsa Music Awards, one nomination at the Independent Music Awards, and her video was officially selected to screen at the 2020 Dead Center Film Festival and the 2020 Lift Off Global Network Film Festival in Paris, London, Sydney, Melbourne, New York, and Los Angeles. In addition to her breakout success with Streetlight in 2019, Branjae was also featured in the 2x Emmy Award Winning Series, Play it Loud, by Outsiders Productions, This Land is Your Land: A Celebration of 80 Years by the Woody Guthrie Center, and Duet Jazz Club Presents: Branjae’s NYE Extravaganza.
Born in the city of Motown and rooted in the city of The GAP Band, Branjae has established herself as a full-bodied entertainer. Her voice has been likened to the rasp of Lauryn Hill, the alto register of India Arie, and the soul of Nina Simone. Alternatively, her stage presence is heavily influenced by the leg work of Tina Turner, confidence of Michael Jackson, the commanding presence of Freddie Mercury, and the vigor of Beyonce. Having shared the stage with Jeff Tweedy, Joan Osbourne, Gangstagrass, Thundercat, Fishbone, Ohio Players, RC and the Grits (Erykah Badu’s current band), Andy Frasco, and the late Wayman Tisdale, her live shows pay homage to the art form of theatrics, music, and writing as Branjae utilizes every square inch of the stage. She captivates her audience by drawing them in with her singing and mesmerizing them with her performance.
Branjae’s infectious energy transferred onto the big screen in 2020 when she made her film debut in Finding Carlos as the Sugar Plum, a holiday hip hop film inspired by The Nutcracker. In 2020 she was also featured on Gangstagrass’ latest album “No Time for Enemies,” on the single Your Land, which reached #1 on the Billboard BlueGrass Charts and premiered in Rolling Stone Magazine.
Despite a global pandemic, Branjae continued using her voice and growing in her artistry by participating as a virtual panel moderator for the Tulsa Artist Fellowship’s connection series, engaging at the 2020 Oklahoma Film and Music Conference as a virtual panel speaker, as well as at the 2020 Dead Center Film Festival, the 2020 Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, and the 2020 Folk the Vote by the Woody Guthrie Center. Branjae continued defying the odds with appearances and productions that include TheDirector’s Cuts: OKC Pride Fest (only on YouTube), On a Porch Somewhere (private concert series hosted in the Tulsa area), Audience of One by Duet Jazz Club, and Tulsa Community College’s TEDx Virtual Event.
Branjae is a modern day Harriet through her creativity, unapologetic authenticity, and passion for humankind. To Branjae, there is power and magic in owning your words, and that is something she takes very seriously when she’s performing live. She is well aware that she’s manipulating energies; holding the power to evoke joy, excitement, or even pain. Her live performances are full of mood. From the theatrics of her wardrobe, to her often acrobatic choreography, combined with the power of her voice, a Branjae show promises to be sensually fulfilling and organic. In the town, Branjae’s energy on stage, and in person, is unmatched.
All roads lead to Branjae, and in 2021 her multimedia project Free Facts released on January 22, 2022. Through a successful Kickstarter campaign funded within two weeks of being launched, the project’s short film was completed within three days of filming on location in Tulsa, OK at Living Arts and FireThief Productions; featuring artwork and photography by Josh New. Branjae’s title track was also awarded the Jimmy LaFave Songwriters Contest and the red carpet screening of Free Facts film premiered in Tulsa, OK at the Woody Guthrie Center in October 2021; the film has gone on to screen in Tokyo, London, Manchester, Berlin, Australia and Austin, TX.