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Conversations with the Inspiring Folami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Folami.

Folami, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started singing at an early age in East Palo Alto, California along with my older sisters. I went to an elementary and middle school that was heavy in performing arts. I landed my first paying gig in a Pepsi Cola commercial at the age of nine with an African dance Troupe, where my face and likeness was selected to be featured in the commercial. In high school, I had multiple role models keeping me Singing, Acting and Dancing around the Bay Area. I got many theatre roles with one of the well-known theatre companies in the South Bay. I then decided to study entertainment full time on the university level, I got my BFA in Musical Theatre at Howard University, in Washington, DC. From DC in 2002, I moved to the Southern entertainment hub of United States ”Atlanta” to pursue a solo career in music as a recording artist. With the use of my other trade and well-known talents in the healthy and beauty industry as a Natural Hairstylist, I ended up working in my craft and mingling with some of the best. Working in the music industry can be tricky starting off and I use all my skills to get where I am today. Currently, I’m am one of the lead singers of a band called CHIC, which started in 1978. Under the direction of Nile Rodgers who is the last living founder of the band, his catalog of hits combined with the classic original sounds allows me to travel the world year-round on an ongoing tour. This year marks my 11th year in the band. I’ve performed in front of millions of people worldwide some notable shows include: Coachella 2018 ft Beyonce, Essence Festival ft Prince, Rock In Rio, Glastonbury, O2 Arena, American Idol, Barack Obama’s going away party at the White House… the list goes on.

I officially released my own music as a solo artist in 2017 and got a notable mention this year with having the pleasure of being featured in Vogue Paris August edition with a two-page spread surrounding my vintage fashion style. At the moment with my band Nile Rodgers and CHIC, we are opening up for Cher! We’re starting our third leg of the HERE WE GO AGAIN TOUR throughout America and have two more legs next year that have just been added.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to my success has been a real testimony to the dedication I have within. I have patience and that started from being a hair braider at the age of 11, doing 12 hours non stop till the job was done. Patience!! My foundation from my upbringing and family strength has also carried me through the rough patches, for there are many!!!! Blood Sweat and Tears sums it up for me, literally. The entire road to where I am now I’ve to fight hard, work hard and not look back while watching my back. There has been so many people who got in my head and made me think many things I’ve accomplished wasn’t possible. One thing I remember and would like to note is that whenever I said I was going to give up, the very next day, I would get a call!! No lie. It’s like God was at the other end of the phone. I’ve had illnesses linked to stress to where I’ve had to become more Zen. Staying calm and not overreacting. Knowing that I hold the power to my craft my heart and my spirit! I’m thankful for my early beginnings for if it wasn’t for my experiences I might have fought and hurt someone. It’s so true! Some people have no boundaries and will do anything to get under your skin. I speak will realness for I always want people who want to do what I’m doing to know that it’s not all a bouquet of roses. My further tips and encouragement are to be respectful to your self first and then others; don’t take NO’s to heart, there is always more awaiting; practice and be prepared; be professional at all times no matter what; stay consistent and learn as much as you can about the technology of the arts as it’s the future!

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m a triple threat. I specialized in entertainment and performing arts. I am an “influencer”, and I love that have the term now. I am a well rounded down to earth person as well. I mostly singing these days but still utilized my other skills like being Natural Hairstylist, makeup artist, wig maker, organization specialist, innovator and vintage fashionista. I’m grateful to be filled with imagination and having the ability to create what I imagine. I’m most proud of my endurance and the solo projects that I’ve completed. The amount of feedback from them have been mind-blowing. What sets me apart from others is my ability to pay attention to details in the performing arts. Entertaining is not just singing on stage, and my dinner with Lionel Richie confirmed that for me. He said that while trying to choose a winner for American Idol, he’s looking for more than singing. That hit home for me and rung out my strength because not only can I sing, but I have so much more to offer with my voice it’s a wholistic approach and a total experience from conception, backstage and on to the stage.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
The biggest barriers today for women are themselves. There is an ebb and flow and you have to ride the waves. It’s a life lesson. There will always be someone and something in the way! Always! That is apart of life. We must honor what is natural and accept things as they are and move around and through them. No one can take away what you have acquired. Knowledge is power! Women have the gifts to press on no matter what. Women must continue to stay connected and know that they have to support each other. Some of the biggest hurtful moments in my career was at the hands of a woman.

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Image Credit:
Altair Pereira Santos

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