Portia Monique was born to sing. As a three-year-old she was performing in front of the mirror, by seven, she was signing in church, and by nine was writing snappy lyrics to further hone her talent.
Self taught, musical studies haven’t followed, but an increasingly impactful series of collaborations with other artists and producers has certainly provided Portia with the needed learning experiences to grow. You’d be forgiven for thinking that heavyweight musical family helped determine her path and yet Portia Monique’s sweet song was entirely from within. “My mother can sing, but she never took it any further than the church” she reflects.
Born to sing indeed… Born in Hawaii before moving to Seattle – her home today – and lived Houston, TX for 7 years, Portia travelled a lot during her formative years and with that, she carried a portable tape recorder everywhere she could, in order to capture every idea that graced her creative mind. Near the age of 16 (one year after arriving to Houston, TX), she started working with a variety of local music producers and rappers to hone her craft and build her music network. As the collaborations with the various artists were short lived, Portia continued to work solo and perfect her craft. While doing so, she successfully posted demos via key social networks like MySpace and other social media outlets. Portia then caught the attention of Seattle based and well know music producer “Illoquint”. Near the age of 23, Portia relocated back the Seattle, WA to pursue a working relationship with the Seattle base producer, and musical magic was made. Portia’s relentless online momentum and creative music production by “Illoquint” and a few others, built upon a beautifully unique voice that blends hip-hop bite with velvety soul via dazzlingly complex harmonies, snazzy, jazzy tricks and some seriously insightful lyrical craft, brought her to the attention of kingpin US R&B producers Rodney Jerkins (who produced for Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Mary J Blige), Kyle West (LL Cool J) and Midi Mafia (Brandy, Talib Kweli, Frank Ocean), as well as, across the Pond, Reel People Music’s Oli Lazarus.
Portia met Oli Lazarus from Reel People Music in 2011, they clicked instantly and timeless music was born. The relationship has opened her up to a brand new avenue of soulful opportunity, which she has exploited to full and glorious effect. Her work with The Layabouts on Reel People Music, has garnered hit underground dance floor singles Do Better, Tell Me Now and the utterly uplifting Bring Me Joy (all of which featured on the super-stylish soul-house duo’s 2012 album Future Retro) and, we certainly cannot forget to mention the SA top charter, Colours Of Love – a deep, emotive swell of 4-4 vocal perfection.
The combination of expressive vocals, tight song-writing and fluid production is totally a knockout. All of which bodes well for 2014 when Portia Monique’s debut album, produced by Reel People, landed on the scene. “It’s a fusion of goodness,” she teases. “It’s soulful yet has a smart commercial appeal”. The record draws on many of my life experiences, and that’s what makes music real.”
She continues: “Embarrassingly I knew nothing much about House music before I began working with Oli and The Layabouts. It’s a different, yet exciting sound, but ultimately music is music, and my sound is my sound – it cuts across everything I do. That comes across on the album despite its mix of different sounds.” Portia is also gearing up to tour, stage appearances in South Africa, and has lived, performed and travelled South East Asia back in 2013 over 24 months, consolidating her status today as consummate all round performer and promising to make her performances one of a kind throughout her career.