Powher Sound founder Muse L’Artiste produces ‘magic’ as a dual threat in the booth
Women artists have attained noteworthy status with chart-topping songs and millions of views of their videos. However, despite this success, their roles in the music industry primarily remain limited to that of a performer.
According to a study – Inclusion in the Recording Studio? Gender & Race/Ethnicity of Artists, Songwriters & Producers across 1,100 Popular Songs from 2012 to 2022 – led by Stacy L. Smith, Associate Professor of Communication and founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, in 2022, 30% of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were women. This report was published in January 2023.
The findings also confirmed that for the year-end charts in 2012, 2015 and 2017-22, there was a 34.1 ratio of men to women producers for these songs. During this span, 13 of 1,756 producing credits went to women of color.
These figures inspired singer/songwriter Muse L’Artiste to create the label Powher Sound and work as executive producer of the landmark album, Herstory.
‘Herstory’ in the making
Herstory is a 10-track project featuring an all-female roster of independent artists encompassing multiple genres and backgrounds. It was released in August 2022. The performers include Laurnea, Medusa The Gangsta Goddess, Demi Jordanae, Will Bug, La Bell, Madz, Temi T, Eretrea & Karlee.
L’Artiste is of Cameroonian decent. She was born and raised in Paris, France before relocating to Los Angeles as an adult. L’Artiste grew up in an environment where education was a major point of emphasis for her parents. Makossa (Cameroon urban and dance music) and classic soul served as the soundtrack of her youth.
While pursuing a musical career, L’Artiste quickly realized the box placement for women in the industry. She further educated herself about this from a business and production standpoint. This led to her making the right connections and later becoming a member of the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs).
“I started thinking about this after participating in webinars. They were talking about the music industry and the challenges women were facing. I learned I wasn’t by myself. I never met a woman behind the board as a producer. I was always surrounded by men,” L’Artiste said on the UnStoppable with Lequita Sharrock podcast.
“This is how I started to control what I was doing and learn how the business works. I had the idea of creating an all-female album. I had to change teams two-three times and have a backup plan to my backup plan. In the end, I found artists and we created this album on my label.”
L’Artiste is following in the footsteps of pioneers such as Sylvia Robinson, Patrice Rushen, Missy Elliot, Ester Dean and WonderGurl. These influential artists broke barriers by producing major hits.
Although being a role model wasn’t her goal, L’Artiste knows she is helping women realize they can be a dual threat in the studio.
“I’ve never thought about it – being a role model. It’s not like I offer advice. People ask for advice and I give it to them. It works out for them most of the time. I’m always surprised when people give me good feedback on how I’ve impacted their lives. I’m just trying to help whenever people need help,” she said.
Music therapy, spirituality
In addition to music being a career path, she uses the art form as a form of mental therapy.
L’Artiste describes herself as an introvert who doesn’t always verbally express her feelings. She listens to various songs to help deal with her challenges. Along with jamming to inspiring tunes, she writes lyrics to heal her mind.
“Music has always saved me. This is my process. I write stuff down and out of that, magic happens,” L’Artiste said.
Daily spiritual meditation is a major staple of her life. Through her faith, she prays for forgiveness and guidance. L’Artiste thrives for spiritual oneness with a holy stamp of approval for personal and professional matters.
“I walk with God every day. When I’m doing something, I’m always thinking, what does he think about this,” she said.
In July 2023, L’Artiste dropped a new single titled No Sh!t. She sings about liberation from toxic communication in a relationship. L’Artiste’s blues-themed melody is sung over a smooth grove. She also harmonizes the background vocals with an echo chant for adlibs.
To hear her current music and the Herstory album, visit muselartiste.com. Her content is also available on her social media pages (Muse L’Artiste) and all streaming music platforms.
Kareem pens therapeutic lyrics of spiritual elevation
By Rory Sharrock
Aiya Kareem’s crafted lyrics are rooted in holistic healing and sensuality.
The inspiration behind her music serves as a positive outlet for self-therapy. They also cause a physical chain reaction with simultaneous head nodding and toe-tapping.
This has been a way of life for the Dutch-born singer/songwriter from early childhood. It remains true to form for her as a mature adult.
Kareem is a native of Haarlem, Netherlands. This city is located 12 miles east of Amsterdam.
Her Algerian bloodlines is the springboard for her global sound. As a kid, Kareem was always singing, dancing, writing and playing Algerian-themed beats as a percussionist.
Along with this flavor, Kareem’s western musical inspirations are Whitney Houston and, most notably, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.
“Michael Jackson did it all with singing and dancing. Bob Marley just feels like home. If I’m in a bad mood, I’ll put on some Bob Marley and feel good. Bob Marley is a prophet. Anywhere I go, and I hear Bob Marley, I feel at home,” Kareem said.
Aside from enjoying Jackson’s creativity, Kareem identifies with the late King of Pop due to her diagnosis of vitiligo. Jackson suffered from the same ailment that covered his entire body.
Because of the outward appearance, vitiligo used to be a source of embarrassment for Kareem. She was teased and used to work hard to hide the discoloration.
The trickle-down effect of bullying carried into adulthood. She applied extra makeup around her mouth to camouflage the spots from her condition.
Kareem no longer harbors those negative self-conscious emotions. Today, she embraces it as a badge of beauty.
“I used to cover it up until March 2020. There are a lot of pictures where you don’t really see it,” Kareem said. “I used to think it was ugly. But when stars such as Winnie Harlow, because they’re different, it gives a lot of power to people.”
In addition to her diverse musical and ethnic background, Kareem has a broad approach to spirituality.
Her mother was raised Catholic and her father is a Muslim. According to Islam, when there are different faiths between the parents, the child is considered a Muslim.
Growing up, Kareem attended a Christian school in her neighborhood. This makes her knowledgeable in the Bible and Quran.
However, she describes herself as “homeless” regarding religion.
“I believe in God, but I don’t have a religion. I haven’t found a religion that sticks with me. There’s only one God in my opinion. It doesn’t matter what religion you have,” Kareem said.
Music during the pandemic
Although she doesn’t fully practice a specific doctrine, Kareem adores the core spirituality of Christianity and Islam.
“Sometimes I wish I had one. I think it’s so beautiful to pray during Ramadan and go to the mosque. On the other hand, it’d be good to go to church and sing gospel music. I really love gospel music. It can make me cry like a baby,” she said.
Kareem is working on new material with plans to release an EP. She also wants to submit songs for artists to perform on their albums.
Her upcoming project would be a follow-up to the period-piece anthem, “City on Lockdown.” The song is an ode to love and loneliness during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the hook, Kareem expresses the hurt and uncertainty as the virus spreads rapidly. She laments a wish of taking her lover home to avoid being separated.
“Whole city on lockdown. When will I see you again? Tonight, I gotta to fly out. If only I could take you with me. We would take our love overseas. I’m feeling right when it’s you and me.”
Kareem was in Los Angeles when the shutdown occurred. She then flew to New York before returning to Amsterdam.
Looking at the once vibrant scene in New York transformed into a desolate area was depressing. Upon the suggestion of a producer, she penned the song to bring about a sense of calmness.
“While I was in New York, the city was empty. I’ve never seen a ghost city in my life. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I was crying and my producer said let’s go to the studio. We went and created that song,” she said.
Although she’s away from several peers and colleagues, Kareem maintains communication with individuals in the music industry. She frequently hosts and participates in rooms on the Clubhouse app.
Click this link to hear the full interview on the UnStoppable with Lequita Sharrock podcast: https://unstoppablewithlequitasharrock.libsyn.com/ep-14-music-unites-love-heals-pt-1.