By Patrick Locke
Ms. Vox is part of a very successful group of songwriting professionals known as “The Conglomerate.” She has written songs for some of the most popular singers in the world, such as Rihanna and Melanie Fiona.
Charlie has helped produce songs for numerous musical artists, most notably Jill Scott, Estelle, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Ne-Yo and Shakira. She has gone on tour as a backup singer for Estelle, one of the hottest artists in the music business. Many people would be very comfortable with what she has achieved and would not push any further—but not Ms. Vox. She recently created a band, Random Ax of Charlie, and her first release, a mixtape, named the BPM or the Anti Mixtape has captured the ear and attention of fans and music observers.
If a person were to have the privilege of attending a Random Ax of Charlie concert, what message and what feeling would you want them to leave your concert with?
Charlie: I always want to evoke a feeling of excitement at every show. I love when I can look out at the audience and they are bopping their heads or clapping their hands. There’s nothing more important to me than connecting with my audience.
You have created a niche for yourself in the music industry and have achieved acclaim as one of the best songwriters in the business and as a skilled producer. It seems like we, the public, are just being introduced to a star who has been preparing for her moment to shine. What are three phrases—not just individual words—that would best describe the singer Charlie Vox, the songwriter C. Gilliam, and the person Charlie Vox? At least one of the phrases must be about the person Charlie Vox.
Charlie: First of all, thank you for that beautiful compliment. And yes, I have been patiently preparing for this very moment. One word that best describes me is Relentless – I don’t stop until I’ve given it my absolute best. My drive is crazy. I’m the girl you try to keep up with. I’m constantly pushing myself. I march to the beat of my own drum (literally, lol!) When everyone else is going left, I usually go right. Why? Because no one else is in the right lane! So, that means it’s wide open. Figuratively speaking of course, the race is not given to the swift but the one who endures to the end? (To Our Readers: This quote is actually from the lyrics of a gospel song titled “Stretch Out” by Vickie Winans)
Why did you decide to become a singer at this stage of your professional career? How did you know that you would be received so warmly? I ask the second part of this question because your reviews have been positive and the buzz about you is that you are the new artist whose music people need to hear.
Charlie: I never stopped dreaming. Although I’ve had success as a songwriter, I never set aside my own dreams of singing, performing, and touring. Singing is in my heart. I have been developing my sound, direction, and most importantly, living life! The songs I write come from a real place and I’m glad people are embracing my music. The BPMs (The ANTI-Mixtape) is just an intro project for me. I’m currently in the studio recording the official debut with my band, Random Ax Of Charlie.
If you were to be awarded a Grammy, considering all the people who have influenced your career and with whom you have worked—in addition to God—who would be three people you would think of first and have to thank before anyone else? And why would it be these three people before anyone else?
Charlie: Awwww, I love this question! I practice this to myself all the time! Lol!! Aaahhheeemmm! (That’s me clearing my throat!)
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad, for believing in my talent and allowing me to express myself through music. And being a taxicab and BANK when I needed them throughout my career. My Grandmother, for teaching me to put God first and everything else will fall in line.
My dear friend and writing partner, Curtis Richardson. I found my musical better half when I met him. I feel like my career began to blossom when we met. He believed in me when no one else did. Last, but not least, my team at Twelve13 Music, who helped me bring this vision of Retro Nouveau from a concept into reality.
After writing songs and producing music for numerous artists, which song and which artist have had the greatest impact on your music career and why?
Charlie: Writing for Japanese artist Kumi Koda shaped my view of not only the music industry, but of the world. Having an artist that doesn’t even speak my language sing a song I wrote helped me see how music has the power to connect us all; across language barriers and cultures.
When did you realize that a career in music was the path that God had chosen for her?
Charlie: Well, it’s funny. I always wanted to be a singer but never thought I’d be a songwriter. Along the way, I started to doubt that my career would take off, but I stayed on track and never stopped developing my craft. Whenever I felt like giving up, God would throw me hints to let me know I was in alignment with my purpose. So quitting wasn’t an option—And still isn’t.”
You are receiving positive reviews and feedback about your music style, “Retro Nouveau.” The music profession is renowned for how difficult it can be to break into the industry and be successful. What is the most important lesson you have learned as you moved forward in your music career?
Charlie: The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you need to run your race like a racehorse with blinders on. You can’t worry about what the next artist is doing, what the new hot songwriter is working on, or who they are working with. Focus on yourself and your craft. If everyone else’s process is a constant distraction, you’ll move farther and farther away from your own creativity.
You have a distinct style and sound. When you were growing up, what singer did you pattern yourself after and why?
Charlie: I listened to a lot of Motown, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and Mariah. I never had a favorite genre growing up, so I listened to a bit of everything.”
If you could sing on stage with any musical artist, living or dead, who would it be and why that particular individual?
Charlie: I am obsessed with Gladys Knight. She is my Auntie in my mind! I would love to perform with her. On the real, I’d love to play her in her biopic!!
She is my favorite.”
You are now the lead singer of your own group, Random Ax of Charlie. Some artists want to perform at Madison Square Garden. Others want to perform at Carnegie Hall. What would represent the dream locale for the Random Ax of Charlie and why?
Charlie: Professionally, I’d love to perform at Wembley Stadium in London, England. It would be an outer body experience for me. Personally, I’d love to go back to my old high school to perform after I’ve made my name. That would bring everything full circle. After those milestones, I would definitely feel like I finally “made it.”