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Arts & Entertainment

LaVoyce Loves Dallas, but Had to Leave to Become a Star

LaVoyce, a Booker T. grad, moved to California because she knows it will be easier to lift up local artists once she makes it herself.
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Image of LaVoyce, Dallas singer/songwriter
Courtesy of LaVoyce

I planned to meet LaVoyce, the award-winning singer/songwriter, at a concert called Our Neck of The Woods at Trees in Deep Ellum. But I fell asleep. The artist showcase, organized by Johnny Bee III of The Leo Sun Project, featured a diverse selection of Texas’ musical talents, such as experimental singer Mecca from Houston, melodic serenader David Morgan, psychedelic avant-garde band Chilldren of Indigo, cultural griot Willo, husky lyricist Cameron McLoud, and DJ Kmor as the night’s unofficial curator of eclectic beats.

Through social media videos the next day, I noticed how LaVoyce can temper a highly energetic audience into a tranquil space, transforming the venue into something that suddenly felt like an intimate studio session. LaVoyce, who is classically trained, emoted a sense of ease in her vocals. The singer captivated concertgoers in a relaxed outfit of a cream graphic tee, fuzzy green bucket hat, army cargo pants, and black Crocs.

The video displayed inklings of the star she wants to become. For years, LaVoyce has received accolades from the Dallas Observer for her singing. The daughter of other musical professionals, the singer’s voice wouldn’t be as strong without her work ethic and dedication to the discipline of singing. When she was 7, LaVoyce said she knew singing was going to be her life’s work. Now 18 years later, she has moved to Los Angeles to grow and develop into the renowned entertainer Dallas knows her to be. She is ready for the rest of the world to hear it, too.

In the opening seconds of her latest single, “Check,” the singer’s voice is earthy and breathy. It immediately invokes memories of the neo-soul era, a period of pop music where legends like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott debuted on the national stage with heartfelt, woman-centered songs about their lived experiences. LaVoyce is a student of that era who pays reverence to the singers before her, but infuses a millennial sensibility over the Alexander Lewis-produced track. LaVoyce’s music is fitting for a girl nights out or girls night in; her lyrics of women empowerment are perfect for an “Insecure” episode, and reflect the daily struggles of 20-somethings.

I had no idea Our Neck of the Woods was her last concert in Dallas before her move to Los Angeles. If I would have known, the beginning of this introduction would be different. However, it’s a blessing to interview an emergent artist, newly transitioned to the city where musicians from across the world go to become stars. She is the latest in a new generation of local R&B talent to become fellow L.A. transplants, like Kaash Paige and Liv.e (her Booker T. Washington classmate). LaVoyce says her spirit is here, but she wants to bridge the gap between the opportunities in L.A. and her home in Dallas.

We spoke with LaVoyce about her recent move, advice for independent artists, the power of vision boards, and The Prosecco Posse, which is what she calls her new fanbase. It has been edited for length and clarity.

What led you to move to L.A.? Separately from writing my own songs, I write for other people. It’s easier to do that here. There are more opportunities and bigger chances of being in the studio with the artist, which is ideal for songwriting. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I wanted to be in a different scene. I wanted to pressure on myself, too. I’m 25 and wanted to be creatively stretched a little more. Being around other types of creatives is pushing me and helping me grow even more.

I already miss Texas, but at the same time, I love L.A.

I empathize with your desire to go to a different environment and be challenged. Especially because in Dallas, you received award after award. Which is so cool. In Dallas, I was doing all of this amazing stuff, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. There’s no growth when you’re not uncomfortable. I wouldn’t say I hit a ceiling, but I felt stagnant. I didn’t feel like I was growing in the way I needed to do. I’m a Virgo. We’ve never satisfied, so I blame it on that. But, I wanted to be pushed and it’s been uncomfortable in L.A., but I’m trying to grow. The move felt right.

Artists have to grow. I’ve noticed you talk about your move in terms of spirit and intuition. Recently, you tweeted about how you’re in the exact place you wanted, when you made a vision board last year. How does it feel to live out your manifestations? Settling in, I’ve had time to look around and see everything on my vision board [in real life]. Seeing that strengthened my belief in manifestation. I’m in a transformative space of my life. I’ve moved. I’m working on my project. My belief is what keeps me at ease.

Thinking about gospel’s influence in R&B, you have to feel a singer’s spirit and belief to connect with them. Fans connected with your previous projects, which emphasized heartbreaks and situations. In your new era, fans hear your spirit saying “the next man that breaks my heart, don have to run me a check.” Absolutely. It’s only right.

Tell me about what inspired this new era of Prosecco Posse, your latest single “Check,” and the energies you’re bringing into your next project. It sounds like an evolution. This project is the first one I’m paying extra attention too. I feel like I’m making the best music I’ve ever made. It feels authentic and true to me. I’m doing my Virgo thing, which is dissecting it apart piece by piece.

In the beginning, I was too serious and it started to feel like a job. I always said I never wanted music to feel like that because this is something I love. I’m just choosing it as my career. For three months, I stopped working on it and went to the streets, trying to find inspiration. Recently, I’ve come back to it and the music flows so easily.

I’m close to finishing it. I’m at peace. My best songs come to me like downloads. they’re just coming into me, in my spirit.

Another thing I manifested was a team. As we went through branding exercises and understating my audience, my team was like, ‘you enjoy Prosecco’ and another member shouted out Posse. They really took off with it because in team meetings, I’m the one with a bottle of Prosecco.

I believe in trying to make your life as luxurious as possible. Prosecco has always been that for me. I got it from my aunt and mom because they are Prosecco drinkers.

I love hearing that an independent artist has a team and they’re thinking about branding strategies because that’s what elevates them. I noticed you’re a stan of Victoria Monet. She exemplifies success as an independent artist, from her magazine covers, to TV performances and placement on streaming services’ playlists. A team is what takes you from a regular artist to an established professional. For a long time, I was doing it by myself. I did everything for Bloom, my first project. It was a great experience, but you can’t do it all yourself.

I’m glad I have other minds who introduce me to different ideas. Also, it frees me up to have more time to focus on music. I truly encourage independent artists to build a team. Look at the people already going hard for you.

The most important thing is for them to actually believe. If they believe in it, like you believe in it. They’re going to work hard for you and on your behalf. Start with your friends. One of my friends, Bando, who is another artist is on my team. Ant, another artist who does business marketing, is on my team.

As a collective, we pulled resources to bring in new members for the team. You’ll never know what your friends are really into, unless you ask. That’s what I’ve really learned.

I think everyone fears when a beloved hometown artist moves to Los Angeles, the hysteria of them being signed to a major record label. I am a true Dallas native. I hold the city near and dear to my heart. If it was up to me, I would do it [my career] from Dallas. Unfortunately, I can’t. I loved living in Dallas. My whole philosophy with the Dallas music scene to get more eyes on it; we don’t have enough big stars. Look at places like Atlanta, Chicago, L.A., they have a lot of artists popping, so they can pull the next generation up easier. Because you can’t put that weight on one person, or two to three people. I’ve always felt like cool, we have to leave first, because we haven’t been able to do it here.

People like to say oh, Internet. Major record labels are coming. Sure, they probably are, but I can’t wait for it. Somebody has to make a move and be that person with intentions of doing that. I definitely feel there’s so much talent in Dallas. I can’t wait to be in a position help out someone and the scene.

For decades, artists from Dallas has complained about the lack of infrastructure and big stars. I see you and the R&B and jazz singers from the city, such as Kaash Paige, Liv.e, and Jazzmeia Horn as ambassadors. Dallas does have a big hip-hop scene, but the R&B girls are coming. We’re coming.

At the end of our interview, LaVoyce described music as a “weird” journey of “ups and downs,” but wanted to say Prosecco Posse is the best. An ideal ending for the hometown sweetheart, thousands of miles away, but always repping Dallas, Texas.

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