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Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Solo R&B Rock


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"Vonyse's Journeys"

Vonyse's Journeys (6/16)

By Whitney Youngs
After earning a degree in graphic design from a university in Long Beach, soul singer Vonyse (pronounced VON-eese) embarked on a journey in the real world as a career woman working for several advertising agencies and start-up companies during the dot-com boom.

"The last company I was at, I was driving home from work, part of the same routine I'd had, and I just decided that this wasn't my calling - it was meant to be a backup plan," she said on her decision to become a full-time musician.

The theme of her new album, "When Sleeping Giants Wake," serves as a representational snapshot of Vonyse's spiritual and intellectual awakening she experienced while working a 9-to-5 job. The songs address issues as diverse as her music tastes - Meshell N'degeocello, Peter Gabriel, John Mayer's early independent work, Fiona Apple, Rolling Stones, the Staple Singers and the Doobie Brothers.

"I feel like my songs symbolize our need to stop and think about what we are doing - if it's right, what works and what we are creating at the end of the day, and what that will yield," said Vonyse.

"I wanted to acknowledge those countries/continents/a group of people that have a deep-rooted history," she added about her mentions of places and people with rich and long histories like Asia, Africa and Latin America and Native Americans in the song "Dr. Frankenstein." "I wanted to look at these places and what their contribution was originally, and when do we love them instead of having the generations of offspring that come from those groups and places feel like a minority. They are just as part of the majority as anyone."

Vonyse, disillusioned with her corporate career, decided to follow her passion within the musical world and recently recorded, produced and designed the album cover art for "When Sleeping Giants Wake."

"I was on a couple of advertising campaigns and we were told to use any means possible to stimulate the customer to buy things that we don't need," stated Vonyse on her epiphany. "I think one of the last major campaigns I was on with an advertising agency was for liquid packets that were supposed to change your can of soda into a soda fountain drink, but it was just pure sugar. None of us would drink it ourselves, but we were supposed to sell this to mothers and their kids, and it was just like, wow!"

Vonyse's matters of the heart range from her early sexual experiences as a victim of molestation and her own spiritual awakening to the effect of mainstream media and corporate corruption to good old-fashioned love that not only reflects her professional life but also her personal life.

"I had a lot of experiences good and bad - molestation as a child early on exposes you to sex too soon and you tend to associate the feeling of sex with love and it's not always that," said Vonyse. "I think young girls have to realize how to not identify the act as a way to fill up their spirits but to understand that it's a choice, a gift. It was gradual for me and it was actually falling in love with someone who didn't make sex a priority. That was what distinguished my love for them."

Vonyse spent her youth in Indianapolis, but sensing her young daughter's discomfort in an Indiana lifestyle, her mother posed the idea of relocating to Northern California when Vonyse was a freshman in high school. She finished high school as a member of an award-winning gospel choir in Pleasanton. Vonyse's mother later moved back to Indiana when she enrolled in college.

"This album is about a fresh start and the idea to waking up to life. I don't want to say there is a particular age group, but I think there is a generation right now that I feel like my mom and some of the people of her generation were handing off the baton to," said Vonyse.

Vonyse created the new album independently and wrote the song using an acoustic guitar, her laptop and a digital 16-track recorder in the comfort of her own living room.

"I feel like a lot of those movements in the 1970s they kind of started to fizzle out, and the last generation were handing it off to us, but it doesn't seem like we picked up from where they left off," added Vonyse about the idea of waking up a metaphorical sleeping giant. "It took me realizing that I was on automatic pilot - going to work as a way to get the car and the house - and I thought what am I doing and what is this life all about?"

Vonyse, who now resides in Los Angeles, will be opening for R&B legend Aretha Franklin in September at the Gibson (formerly the Universal) Theater and will perform at the Blue Caf/ in Long Beach June 29.

- The Beach Reporter

"A Different Kind Of Soul"

Los Angeles artist Vonyse is developing a following for a sound that she calls "altered-native" soul: a combination of R&B, rock, jazz and funk. I'm drwan to all types of music," she says, "and what I hear inside my head is a transformation of so many influences." Vonyse is currently producing her CD "When Sleeping Giants Wake." - Billboard

"Passionate R&B mix with Strong and Compelling Vocals"

Folk, R&B and jazz are what Vonyse delivers. There's emotion to her music rooted with a seductive simplicity. Offering basic chords, heavy on the bass with a grove vibe, Vonyse's rich tnor vibrato delivers clear, straight forward, confessional lyrics. It's the stuff of life, love, regret and loneliness. Her obvious experience in blues, gospel and jazz shines through, yet the songs achieve a commercial appeal.

Vonyse's band members possess talent and skill. Her voice is deep and smooth, sounding a bit like Toni Braxton, yet with passion and attitude. Bass player Corey Cofield proveds reliable vigor, while Keyboardest Carnell Harrell stands out the most, creating flavor with piano and strings . Guitarist Ian Gibson and drummer Ian Grom subtly fill in the essence of the music, just where it should be.

The artist's beauty and soulful voice reeled inthe audience with a calm and cool approach. Singing with sincerity and passon, especially during "Start All Over." Vonyse turned towards the back of the stage druing the guitar solo and began crying during the guitar solo. When she returned, the band was proficient enough to continue jamming until she regained her composure.

Vonyse has strong and compelling vocals that put emotional investment in every song. Her concert grooves with passionate R&B flavor, courtesy of a well rehearsed, rhythmic "Ensemble." Her sound is original, which should be commended, but can make it tough for industry to "fit" her in a certain catagory. However if someone takes a change and gives Vonyse a shot, she could have a promising career. - Music Connection

"On Stage: India Arie w/ Vonyse"

In an R&B scene crowded with glitz and bling, India.Arie emerged with a spare, acoustic sound and messages of self-love and wisdom on the 1998 Lilith Fair tour and a 2001 Motown debut album.

But her soul, rooted in a diverse crop of artists that includes Stevie Ray and Sarah Vaughan, struck a chord to the tune of an impressive seven Grammy nominations. Still, she left the 2002 awards empty-handed.

Disappointed and humbled but no less inspired, the Atlanta singer dug deeper within and returned last September to share her "Voyage to India," a journey that has her appreciating the little things she found along the way.

Vonyse, an Indianapolis native who like India.Arie is taking the grass-roots route to share what she called an "altered native soul," opens at 8 p.m.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Vonyse Grooves House of Blues"

Vonyse, a new music artist and former Cal State Long Beach student, reached inside her heart to give listeners a piece of her soul at the House of Blues in Hollywood last Tuesday night, filling the room with a groove all her own.

From the first note played to the final breath, Vonyse sang for a good hour and 15 minutes, making everyone in the room feel what she felt as her emotion poured through the microphone.

She blended a mix of R&B, rock, jazz and funk to produce her own genre of music, which she calls, "altered native soul." Vonyse attributes her style to her musical influences, such as, Aretha Franklin and early Rollingstones.

On top of creating music, she decided to take on producing it as well. Her debut album, "When Sleeping Giants Wake" will be released in December or January.

As an independent artist, Vonyse has been doing it for a little over two years. She said she wants to hold out for a deal that affords her such creative freedoms.

Vonyse decided that commercially driven producers would take away from her search for full self-expression, so she pre-produced it herself in her living room using an old acoustic guitar, her laptop and a digital 16-track recorder.

A native of Indianapolis, Vonyse said she would often write and sing songs as a child solely as an outlet. She finished up high school in northern California, where she expanded her musical expression in an award winning gospel choir.

Moving to Long Beach, she pursued a career in graphic design and film at CSULB. She learned skills in web design and advertising that later proved helpful when, as an independent artist, she need to pay the bills.

"I was sitting in my living room one day and decided that this isn't what I wanted to do," Vonyse said. "I wanted to share the experience of just living with everyone."

"Music has carried me through so many challenging times. It is the breath that gives me life."

Through lyrics and sound beauty flows from the lips of this new, soul artist. - Daily 49'er


"A different kind of soul" Billboard Magazine

"One of the top Female Artists in America." Jane Magazine

• Vonyse released her debut CD When Sleeping Giants Wake independently in April 2005.

• Vonyse named as one of the top new artists in America in “One’s to Watch” program by House of Blues Entertainment

• Featured in House of Blues Podcast series with over 10,000 streams via itunes, yahoo podcasts and podcast alley

• Vonyse Featured in National News Piece by Fox News

• National press featuring AOL Music, Billboard and Music Connection.

• Myspace profile with 3500 friends and over 16,000 music listens

• Vonyse sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium August 2006

• When Sleeping Giants Wake is available nationally at all Virgin Mega Store outlets and was featured on the “Virgin College Mega Tour” endcap April and May of 2005.

• Vonyse appeared on the Virgin Mega College Tour with Cake and Gomez. Playing to over 20 college markets including Chicago, Denver, New Orleans and Philadelphia.

• Vonyse has peformed in-stores at Virgin Megastores & other Record Stores across the country.

• Vonyse and has performed at over 50 colleges, 30 festivals and several clubs drawing sold out culturally diverse audiences.

• Vonyse has been featured on CD compilations from Jane Magazine, The Knitting Factory and Sonic Bids.

• Music featured in independent films “Actress” and “Triple Minority” both widely seen on television and film festivals world-wide.

• Vonyse was featured in McDonald’s “Are You Mac Enough” promotion. Vonyse’s song “Doing Thangs” was available for free download during the promotion and was the #4 most downloaded song. Over 500,000 customers participated in the “Are You Mac Enough” promotion.

• Vonyse is currently sponsored by MAC Make-up, Puma, Rubios Baja Grill and Zappos.com

• Vonyse was nominated for a NAACP award in 2004 for her work in the play In the Blood

• Vonyse has performed for over 100,000 people with artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, Jessica Simpson, The Roots, India.Arie, Jurassic 5, Chaka Kahn, Ozomatli, Gladys Knight, Vivian Green, and Isaac Hayes.

• Performed at festivals such as Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI), Old Town Pasadena Soul Fest (Pasadena, CA,) and NARM

• Performed at venues such as House of Blues, Knitting Factory, Gibson Amphitheater, Lion’s Den (New York, NY) and World Café Live (Philadelphia, PA)



Alter - to make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; modify:.

Native - remaining or growing in a natural state; unadorned or unchanged

Soul - the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.

These three words encompass the music and lifeline of Vonyse, the singer, activist, designer, filmmaker and human being. Vonyse was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her mother and grandmother constantly played music around the house and it was always a big part of her life. She later joined a church choir which led her to many contests, tours and events.

In her teens Vonyse moved to southern California for college. There she began getting serious about music, playing in bands Delta Nove and Homemade Gravy. She toured the country playing colleges and sharing the stage with bands like The Black Eyed Peas and Ozomatli.

In 2005, Vonyse released her first solo album When Sleeping Giants Wake. The album was met with great critical success. She joined the Virgin Mega College tour and played 30 dates with Gomez and Cake across the country. She continued playing dates in California and surrounding areas opening for acts like Mariah Carey, Chaka Kahn, Isaac Hayes, Pat Benetar, Morris Day, Erykah Badu and many others.

Disillusioned with the music business, she stopped touring in 2006 and went back to her artistic side - designing websites for artists like the John Lennon, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Snoop Dogg, Jamie Foxx and a variety of others. In early 2009 like a phoenix rising from the ashes – Vonyse returned to music with a renewed spirit.

She began writing new songs and the hunger to share her musical vision with the world returned. She began studying the very essence of music and letting her creativity flow. To quote Vonyse “I just want to share my journey and music is one of my outlets”

2010 also marked the return of Vonyse to the stage as she kicked off her first round of shows at Austin’s South By Southwest conference. Vonyse’s future is certain – with her unique brand of Altered Native Soul and her incredible voice it's not a question of will she shine, it's a matter of how bright you can take the glow.