Give me a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you get started in music?
My name is LaShonda Schofield. I was born, LaShonda Glennette Parker, in Valdosta, Georgia. My mom gave birth to me when she was 15 ½ years old. Upon her High School graduation, my mother and I briefly moved to Jersey City, New Jersey. There, we briefly lived with my aunt (who lived next door to the mom of Kenneth Kelly--lead singer of The Manhattans.)
That year, I turned three years old. My mother discovered that I had the ability to sing. So, on the night of her bridal shower, she summoned me from my bed to perform George Benson’s “The Greatest Love Of All” in front of her bridal shower friends. I remember being very shy; I protested because I did not want to do it. She told me that I could not go back to bed until I performed the song for her friends. She was a proud mother; she wanted to impress them—to show them that a three old could actually sing in pitch and could recite the lyrics to the song. With her urging, I performed the song and that is my first memory of singing.
At the age of 11, I began writing songs. My first song was a simple melodic song but served as the antecedent to my commercial songwriting abilities.
At the age of 19, I began taking formal vocal lessons to hone my singing abilities. While the name of the instructor escapes me—my mom set up my first lesson at the University of Maryland Music Department. An African American professor and opera singer gave me my first vocal lessons. She was my first vocal coach; she introduced me to my true vocal range and even taught me some of her operatic vocal stylings. Later that year, I met the famous flutist, Bobbi Humphrey through one of my mother’s friends at work. By the time, Bobbi and I met—she had just been fired by Tevin Campbell. Tevin’s first solo LP “I’m Ready” had just been released commercially. At that time, she was actively managing me and managing Ryan Toby. At the time, he was working primarily as an actor—his most notable role was in Sister Act. He was the little boy that sang, “Oh Happy Day” in the famous choir scene with Whoopi Goldberg. She was trying to establish him as a recording artist as well.
I remember being impressed by the clout she had; Bobbi didn’t need an appointment to visit record label A&R’s. She literally just walked me in the offices of all the major record labels in New York City, in an attempt to shop a record deal for me. During those days, I was being marketed as a brown-skinned Toni Braxton; however, I did not have the “it” factor—whatever “it” was supposed to represent. While most executives liked my songs, it just was not enough to give me an opportunity. And while they recognized I could write songs, they were in the business of creating “stars”, so my songwriting abilities were not celebrated. I remember being so excited that she once managed Tevin Campbell. I thought surely if she got Tevin noticed, she’d get me noticed too.
I remember Jeffrey Sledge, former A&R of Jive Records flew from New York to Riverdale, Maryland to meet me and my producer, Michael Rowland. I don’t think he was impressed with me, as a performer though. While he liked some of my songs, he was not willing to sign me as an artist. I remember my audition was short-lived. We had a late lunch together and he quietly got back on the plane headed back to New York. Not giving up—Bobbi took me to visit him again in New York. I remember he listened to my unreleased demos, “Nights Alone” “Secret”, and “Last Time”. He said to me, “I like some of your songs, but can I ask you something?” “What do you plan to do if you don’t become a recording artist?” I guess that was his nice and politically correct way of saying, I’m not interested, and I hope you have a back-up plan. I thought Bobbi would take the feedback and develop me—serve as a mentor—an A&R to develop me. After we concluded our record label meetings, she let my contract ride out for three years.
When I tried to get released from the contractual agreement to move on, she refused to let me out of it, even though it was clear that she no longer wanted to manage me as her art. I rode out the three years and never spoke with her again. The one gem that came out of that business relationship was the fact that I met her client, Ryan Toby. Ryan later went on to have a successful singing and songwriting career, after joining the R&B group, City High.
Also, Ryan Toby is responsible for introducing me to my songwriting collaborators, Ivan Baker and Lamont Sanders who co-wrote “Wash That Man” with me.
Later that year, I reconnected with the man who would become my mentor in music. Mitch Malone, a Quiet Storm DJ in Richmond, Virginia introduced me to the famous songwriter, Joseph B. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson wrote timeless hits for the Spinners, Elton John, and the O’Jays to name a few. His most notable hits are “Sadie”, “One of A Kind Love Affair”, “Brandy”, “It Takes A Fool To Learn That Love Don’t Love Nobody”. He taught me the importance of having my own entity—owning what I do. He stressed the importance of learning the business—he did not want me to succumb to the pitfalls of not owning my songs. He said, “LaShonda if you want to become a doctor, you don’t hang out with plumbers”. He was the first songwriter to validate my songwriting abilities.
I wrote and demo’d an unreleased song called, “Trash”. He told me that “Trash” was a smash. He told me that my songwriting abilities closely mirrored that of Linda Creed. Linda was one of his co-writers. She wrote a number of hits mostly notably, “The Greatest Love Of All”. The first song I’d ever sing. I guess God has a mysterious way of connecting some mighty big dots.
I would go on to write for other independent artists, but the songs were never released. As we moved well into the 2000’s, I saw my music career as retrospective. I would continue to hone my craft of singing and songwriting while creating demonstrations. But once I got married, I was resigned to the fact that my professional music aspirations were over.
In 2012, I had an awakening. I felt a strong nudge to resume writing songs. Everyday, I found a melody in my heart to write lyrics to. I would create demonstrations for catalogs of inspirational songs, as well as, R&B love songs.
In 2015, I joined a Worship Team under the tutelage of my then Worship Pastor, Montell Jordan. Montell is best known for the world smash hit, “This Is How We Do It.” This was my first Worship Team experience, as I did not grow up singing gospel music. He taught me so much about worship on the “platform” vs. performing. He used to tell us that “When you’re praising the Lord, you are not performing. The platform is not a stage.”
He taught me and the other worship team members the importance of decorum while singing up there. Because we were the face—the voices—helping to lead people to Christ. I had never sung with “inner ear” headphone systems before. He took the time to show me how to hook it up properly so that you couldn’t visibly see it. He gave me the confidence to lend my Lyric Soprano voice to the contemporary Christian music genre. That year, I wrote a lot of unreleased inspirational songs. I told myself that one day, I’d write for him as well as other Gospel artists. At that time, he was promoting his hit, “Shake Heaven.” My confidence was coming back! I believed in myself again. I formed my company, 3 OH! 9 Music Group, and began the journey of running towards destiny!
In 2015, God sent me another mentor. Her name is Tracy Hamlin. Tracy is an internationally acclaimed R&B, Jazz, and Deep Soul House singer. Through divine intervention, she and I met on social media and instantly became friends. The first night we spoke on the phone, we must have talked to each other for three hours. She also served as my vocal instructor. I learned a lot about the importance of enunciation in singing. She taught me how to sing properly from my diaphragm. She reminded me that I could be my own “Girl Boss”—that everything I needed—God had already placed inside of me. She was my wind! She introduced me to the Grammy world. She served as the former Vice President of the Washington DC Grammy Chapter and currently serves on the Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees. Like Cinderella going to her first ball, she graciously invited me to the DC Chapters Grammy Christmas party. I still have the shoes I wore that night—they are Gold and Black like the Grammy color scheme. I am saving those shoes to wear to the Grammys when I accept my first award.
In 2016, I co-wrote songs with Tasha LaRae former lead singer of Arrested Development. She carved out a Deep Soul House music niche for herself. She and I penned 5 songs together—of which 3 appear on her 2019 LP titled Tasha LaRae “#Fridayfeeling”, “Light Up The World”, “Uncomfortable” under Quantize Recordings. Her song “Clarity” was released under POJI records. Her album is up for Grammy nomination consideration.
In 2017, I had another divine moment with destiny. My good friend, Kenny Lawson invited me to accompany him to sing with Fred Hammond’s background singers. I literally went from sitting on my sofa to immediately flying to Dallas to go to Fred’s Warehouse where I sang background on three of his unreleased songs. I was like, “Really, God, but I’m not a Gospel singer. I have a Pop voice, God.” I could hear The Holy Spirit say to me I’m promoting you—you are enough—you are qualified. I remember walking into The Warehouse, as its name, and thinking, “Wowwwww!—just like that I’m really here.” Fred taught me to sing it as you mean it! Belt it—to let your voice be heard! I heard those strong Soprano voices and I was like---Uh I’ll take the Alto parts please—lol. When I went into the recording room, all the Alto singers were lined up around the mic. I was front and center. I remember pinching myself in between takes because I could not believe I was actually singing with him. He also taught me how to appear large on stage—by stretching out my hands. That same year our paths would cross again—when I participated in his film project, “The Choir.”
In 2018, I released my first single, “Wash That Man” and “My Rhythm, My Blues”. In 2019, I released a single titled, “Calamity”. In 2020, I released, “Free To Love” featuring Namibian rap group MIG. I am now working on songs for my EP titled, “Salt and Sugar”.
What was the most memorable moment in your music career?
Performing “Wash That Man” and Teena Marie “Lovergirl” for the Cobb County NAACP Juneteenth Celebration and attending the DC Chapter Grammys Christmas Party.
Both moments were equally important because one—solidified me as an artist. It was the first time I’d performed in front of a large audience outside in the heart of the summer with a live band. And the Christmas Party was my confirmation that I was in a group of my peers and that someday, if I worked hard and didn’t give up—I’d claim the ultimate prize—a Grammy or two or three or four or five or six, etc. I was invited to go by my friend, Tracy Hamlin—former DC Chapter Vice President and Grammy Trustee.
What was your most challenging moment?
My song, “Wash That Man” was slated to be featured in an independent film directed by Corta Ishman titled, “Shattered Love”. I’d flown to Maryland to record the song officially for the film project. Days after my session, my recording engineer/producer mixed and forwarded me the song to preview. Upon hearing it, I heard a lot of white noise accompanying the track. My vocals were recorded as they say in the recording business “hot”. I couldn’t do anything with the vocals at that point and my deadline to submit the song was nearing. I had less than 48 hours to turn in the song to the filmmaker or else the song would not be included in the film.
Now to add to my dilemma, I was scheduled to fly to Atlanta. But I needed to re-record “Wash That Man”. I had to do make a split-second decision. I asked my Atlanta producer if he knew of a facility I could use to professionally record “Wash That Man”. He contacted one of his recording engineers named Cat Taylor. At the time, Cat was serving as a recording engineer at Rhythm D’s recording facility in Atlanta.
Rhythm D is famous for his production credits with Easy E, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg. Rhythm D was gracious enough for me to use his spot to record. Cat engineered the session, while Rhythm D set up the technical aspects of my recording. And the re-recorded version that you hear today was made one starry night at Rhythm D’s spot. He saved me! I made the deadline and the entire song was featured in the middle of the climatic part of the “Shattered Love” film. What I learned from that moment was where there’s a will—there’s always away.
Who are your musical influences?
Lisa Fischer, Anita Baker, Sade, Barbara Weathers, Sharon Bryant, Klymaxx, George Michael, and Whitney Houston, etc.
If you could do a duet and or have someone write a song for you from your favorite artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m a die-hard George Michael fan. I always wanted to write to him. I studied his lyrics a lot, so I wanted to one day have the opportunity to show him all the things he taught me from afar. His style is present in a lot of my work.
What is the last song you’ve listened to by another artist and who are your present favorites?
The last song I listened to was Nuyorican Soul’s version of “I am The Black Gold of the Sun”.
My present favorites are “As Long As I Live” By Toni Braxton
What was your most embarrassing moment while at a live performance or interview?
I performed with a black towel to wipe the sweat off my face and in my excitement, I threw it on the other side of the stage. I thought to myself, now why did you do that? You need that towel.
How many singles/albums do you have out presently and are there any projects in the works?
I have released four singles with Deep Soul House Music artist, Tasha LaRae and four singles of my own under my label, 3 OH! 9 Music Group. I am currently recording the songs that will be featured on my first EP titled, “Salt and Sugar”.
What are your either weird habits or traditions before performing live or recording?
I don’t like to eat anything before a performance, and I don’t like to do a lot of talking.
What advice would you like to give to upcoming artists?
Be your authentic self. It is imperative to learn the ends and outs of the business because it is consistently changing and evolving each day. In order to stay relevant—especially during these unprecedented times—one must fully embrace its evolution. There are a number of podcasts devoted to the evolution of the music business that upcoming artists can listen to. Also, I would advise an upcoming artist to develop a social media presence that will put them in front of their target audience to build fan appreciation.
Artist page: www.lashondaschofield.com
Record Label page: www.3oh9music.com
EPK: Album: Salt and Sugar --- February 2021
Record Label: 3 OH! 9 Music Group, LLC
Facebook - @lashonda(datgurl)schofield