INTERVIEW: Marsha Ambrosius at DTLR/Unruly Records Direct Drive Record Pool
by Marcus K. Dowling
Marsha Ambrosius is a fine example of talent on loan from God. As an R & B singer/songwriter, she has established herself in the past decade as the dominant force in the field, a Carole King of soul music, gifted with the innate ability to be able to express with exacting precision the depth of human emotion through lyric. Hitting the scene in 2002 as a member of hitmaking R & B duo Floetry with Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart, their debut album Floetic ascended to a retro soul standard of excellence while still remaining an uncompromisable sound for mainstream geared ears. Songs like “Floetic” and “Say Yes” showed the breadth and strength of their style, and the R & B universe found a new cause celebre. Ambrosius written and Floetry recorded track “Butterflies,” a magical heartfelt pop confection met with approval and a decision to record from none other than the “King of Pop” himself Michael Jackson, and in being included on and released as a single on his last well received album Invincible links Ambrosius favorably with the legend of the most charismatic performer in music history as well. In these achievements dotting her first decade as a songwriter and performer, her life should be a chorus of unrepentant joy. However, this is not the case.
After a second studio album which was considerably less successful than their debut alongside personal problems with Natalie Stewart causing strife, Ambrosius became a solo artist. Multiply this with a multitude of family issues, a signing and dropping from Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and romantic heartbreak, Ambrosius could be considered to be at a well worn personal crossroads. However, with latest release Late Nights and Early Mornings scheduled for release on Clive Davis’ J Records, Ambrosius leans entirely on her God given and well nurtured talent to push through emotional strife and craft a phenomenal release heard on Monday night at Washington, DC’s U Street Music Hall at Unruly Records’ Direct Drive Record Pool event.
Ambrosius states “this album is an extension of myself. I can definitely state that my career has been nothing but late nights and early mornings in so many ways, and I just feel that this is a very personal and emotional release.” Featuring 13 tracks including the urban anthem and 2010 radio teaser “”Hope She Cheats On You (With a Basketball Player)” and current Just Blaze produced single “Far Away,” she feels that “I’m at a point of my career where I feel so thankful for all that I have done, and really comfortable with my own talents and able to express them.” Being aided with tracks written by the likes of Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill doesn’t hurt alongside the phenomenal Rich Harrison written title song as well, creating a sterling tableau for her considerable abilities. Ambrosius appeared completely at ease with much of the truly sultry content on the album, revealing a side of herself that many likely were aware of given her artistic history, but not fully aware of as it is often not discussed with her in conversation. From wanting to “crawl across the stage like Prince in “Darling Nikki” on hearing a track, to “this is not the type of song you want to sit down and have a conversation while listening to,” the frank and libidinous impulse of the album is truly explosive.
In final, the artist states “I thank my mother and family for allowing me to explore my gifts and grow with them.” Marsha Ambrosius’ charmed career and star crossed life has survived undeniably rough patches due to her otherworldly excellence. Late Nights and Early Mornings shows a master auteur at the top of her game and meeting the expectation of grandeur of one with talent on loan from a heavenly place.