VOCAL POWERHOUSE ROVEENA HAS BEEN TAKING THE MUSIC SCENE BY STORM. WITH HER COVERS APPROACHING 1 MILLION SPINS ON SPOTIFY AND SHATTERING 15 MILLION VIEWS IN YOUTUBE VIDEO COLLABORATIONS. HER FIRST EP RECEIVED CRITICAL ACCLAIM, WITH ROVEENA QUICKLY BEING RECOGNIZED AS “A STUNNING VOICE THAT NEEDS TO BE HEARD” AND GARNERED ATTENTION FROM VARIOUS MEDIA AND RADIO OUTLETS, INCLUDING GLOWING REVIEWS FROM BBC & CBC RADIO. IN 2018, ROVEENA’S HIT SONG ‘FEARLESS’ WAS FEATURED DURING THE 2018 PYEONGCHANG WINTER OLYMPICS. HER MUSICAL BREAKTHROUGH HAPPENED AFTER SHE RELUCTANTLY POSTED A VIDEO OF HERSELF SINGING “AT LAST” ON YOUTUBE. CATCHING THE EYES OF TORONTO’S CITYTV PRODUCERS AND LANDING A GUEST SPOT TO PERFORM ON THE SHOW, ROVEENA DAZZLED THE HOSTS WITH THE POWER OF HER VOICE SO MUCH, THAT A PLANNED ONE MINUTE SEGMENT TURNED INTO EIGHT MINUTES – AN APPEARANCE THAT WOULD LAUNCH ROVEENA’S CAREER.
If you had to do this all over again, what would you do differently?
To be honest, I don’t think I would do anything differently. Here is why: As far back as I can remember – music has always been a part of my life – it was all I ever wanted to do. As I journeyed on my path, I started to live a life that was expected of me. I suddenly found myself in a successful corporate career path that I knew in my soul wasn’t right for me. Every time I wanted to make the decision to just follow my heart and pursue music full-time – I would keep getting obstacles thrown in my way. I would have doors constantly shut in my face. Every time I heard a “No,” or was rejected from an opportunity, I let it tear me down. So much so, that the rejections took me to a place where I started to doubt myself, and the fear of hearing a rejection crippled my creativity and paralyzed me into inaction. I thought maybe I shouldn’t follow my heart and just keep on this path of corporate life. I wanted to quit music and forget about pursuing my dream, but the thought of doing that made my soul sad and innately I knew I had to keep going.
One day, I made the decision to stop living a life that was expected of me. With that, I walked away from my corporate career and the stability that came with it all to follow my dream – Music. It was a tough change but I was lucky to have a solid support system around me to make this possible. When this happened – everything changed for me in a positive way. I started writing music, making connections with new fans worldwide, performing on television, and in venues I never thought possible but most importantly – I was doing something that made my soul happy.
I truly believe that I had to experience the journey that I was on to get to where I am today. All of my experiences have shaped the person I am and without any of those – I would not be the artist that I am today and making the music that I love.
Can you share some of your challenges as a brown woman in the music industry? How do/did you overcome those challenges?
At the beginning of my career, it was very tough, I didn’t fit into one standard box that made sense to anyone who consumed media. Early on when I was trying to get my music played on the radio – it proved to be extremely challenging. I was getting feedback that I wasn’t mainstream enough or I was too mainstream – I sat in this weird paradox that didn’t make sense to anyone except myself. The negativity in the music industry got to be overwhelming. I was constantly getting told even to my face that “I wasn’t pretty enough”, “You need to lose weight”, “You are too dark”, “You are too old”, “You will never make it” etc… It’s enough to tear anyone down when you are getting constantly bombarded with these types of harsh statements. Instead of letting the negativity bring me down – I learned to let it fuel my drive, to work harder, to be uncrushable. Being fearless became synonymous with believing in myself, no matter the circumstance. I ended co-writing a new album of mine called Fearless. Not only did songs from that album get played on mainstream radio, I managed to pick up a few awards, perform on various National Television shows, and my title track ‘Fearless’ was played during the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics on CBC Television – a true milestone in my career.
In addition, I took all the negative feedback I ever received and put it on display for everyone to read! You can see all the negative comments ever made about me featured on my album artwork, in my music videos, and my social banners and photos. I wanted to show everyone – especially the younger generation – that if you focus and tune out that negative noise – you can push through and achieve your goals.
I remember shortly after appearing on a tv show – I met some fans at an event I was performing at. This older gentleman walked up to me and said (without hesitation) “wow you are much smaller in person – why do you look so fat on TV?” – blindsided by the comment I responded quickly with “Why thank you. Maybe it’s time for new prescription for those glasses you’re wearing sir.” We both laughed but you could tell he felt embarrassed for asking such a silly question in front of everyone. That’s the thing – when you are in the public eye – especially as a woman – you will get ALL sorts of unsolicited comments and/or feedback. How do you cope with it? My best advice – you TUNE out that negative noise – or else it will eat you up inside!
Music Video: Roveena – Burning Room
My self-care routine involves a lot of exercise, water, and sleep! I love to exercise – this includes long-distance running (especially with my fur baby), weightlifting, and of course Crossfit! Most days, I am up by 6 am and I get going right away any one of those activities. Working out is my zen time – it helps get my body going, energizes my mind and spirit. The best part of my runs is with my little buddy – he has helped me train for a few of my 10K races and there is something therapeutic while running with him. To be honest, some of my best musical ideas have come to me when I am running – it’s a great way to have your mind focus and work through brainstorming ideas while challenging your body physically. Next is hydration, I like to have at least 3-4 liters of water a day – I know that might sound like a lot but I like to stay hydrated at all times- especially my vocal cords! Lastly, it’s really important for me to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep – it’s key for me to shut off any screens an hour before bed and get rest because if I wake up and I haven’t slept well – I am not able to function optimally!
What is your advice to a young girl who wants to pursue a similar dream like yours?
First, as foremost, I always say it is imperative to get formal education as a solid foundation. I cannot stress that enough – especially formal music training. I learned to play piano and guitar at a young age and that has helped me with songwriting and performing. Especially as a woman in the industry – I cannot stress the importance of having that knowledge especially when it comes to the creation of music. I can proudly say that I have stepped behind the scenes and directing every aspect of my career from: co-writing; co-production & playing instruments.
When you are in the room with other musical creators (artists, writers, producers) it helps make for a solid session when you can all speak the same language of music.
Secondly, practice…practice…PRACTICE! The only way to get better is to do this tirelessly. I did this a lot especially as a young child thanks to my Father! The next part that goes hand and hand with this is to put yourself out there. Raise your hand for community events – ask them if you can perform at their functions. You learn a lot in front of a live audience and the more you do this the better you become at performing live! This will also help build your confidence overall.
Finally, and this is the hardest one – believe in yourself. I say this will be hard because lots of people will come in and out of your life and will tell you that this dream of yours is “silly”. These people will try to detract you or discourage you – but I promise you – all you have to do is to just keep believing in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you will see that power of your own talent and spirit – this will set you up to help you achieve whatever your heart desires!
Follow us at @msbrownplus
Edited by Sharmila Sivasankaran
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to nominate someone to be featured.