16 October 2015

Big City Blues Magazine OCT/NOV “Soulful R&B Queens” Eliza Neals Interview

THANK YOU BIG CITY Rhythm and BLUES MAGAZINE for your cool interview and including me in your “Soulful R&B Queens” Bettye LaVette on the cover along with some of my friends inside is great reading!….

Eliza Neals and the Narcotics, One Hit And Your Hooked.

As told to Roger & Margaret White

You might mistake Blues Diva, Eliza Neals for a Pop Princess but there’s more to this pretty face then meets the eye. She has a major in Classical piano and voice but she chose to follow her passion to sing the blues. Mentored under Motown master Barrett Strong she’s won multiple Detroit Music Awards. Her latest incarnation “Eliza Neals and the Narcotics” has been creating a big buzz and Tony Colter of SiriusXM says Eliza was “Hand picked by BB King himself for inclusion on Bluesville” We caught Eliza at her East Coast Headquarters in New Jersey.
“I was born in Detroit, in grade school we moved to Southfield but I’m proud to say I’m from Detroit. Some people are judgmental, they see the blonde chick in go go boots and think “just another pretty face.” But you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, you need to hear me, listen to my music to understand the kind of artist I am. Sometimes the soulfulness of the music takes over and I have no control over what happens. You have to interpret that sound and put it into your vocals.”
Who were your musical influences?
My dad played banjo and guitar in a swamp folk band and he’d have me and my sisters singing these old songs, but he also loved classical and made sure we studied the arts and my older sister, Valerie brought home the music of Jackson Brown, Neil Young, Steve Miller, as well as Aretha and Motown. I have a degree from Wayne State with an emphasis on opera and piano. I was offered a scholarship to study in Vienna to become a bone-fide opera singer but they told me I’d have to give up my other projects. I was working in bands five or six nights a week and just couldn’t see myself giving that up. I’m glad I had that training it’s helped me become the singer I have become. The ranges on some of my songs are difficult and to get that feeling you have to have proper breathing.
You’ve won several Detroit Music Awards.
I thought it would never happen, but now I’ve won four! Two for Best Blues Songwriter (2012 and 2015), one for Best Blues AlbumMessin’ With A Fool” (2013) and one for Best Rock Songwriter (2013). I’m honored there’s so many talented people in Detroit.
Your new record has really taken off.
Yes! “Breaking and Entering” broke me into the market. It’s been in the top ten on the charts since its debuted February 20th. and in heavy rotation on B.B. King’s Bluesville. We’re getting radio play and crossed over making Billboards top twenty for three weeks, and one of Amazons best selling downloads.
You’ve put together a great team of players on this new CD.
I wanted to do this my way and recorded in Detroit, Nashville and New York. The guys I play with (The Narcotics) Howard Glazer, Gabe Gonzales and Johnny Abraham have so much passion for what they do, it brings out the best in me. I’ve been a fan of guitarist Howard Glazer for a long time and it’s been a great matchup. Mike Puwal co-produced and engineered, he’s got Billboard top ten records, and Kenny Olson works (worked) with Kid Rock. I’m so blessed to have friends who felt the love and positive energy and put everything they had into it. I’m living in Ferndale, Michigan and my man lives in New Jersey so we go back and forth. Sometimes I’ll detour to Nashville or pick up gigs along the way. It’s crazy but it’s my life.
You wrote all the songs on “Breaking and Entering?”
90%. Sometimes I’ll come up with lyrics and sing them into my I Phone and develop the music around that, or play around on the piano till I have a hook or riff and develop phrasing or lyrics. I’ll emailed the file to Howard (Glazer) and he’ll come up with some gritty tracks or we’ll sit and he’ll play and I come up with lyrics. Sometimes if I’m lucky it all comes together at once. “Windshield Wiper” was written driving back from New Jersey, the sound of the blades “wiping my tears away.” We literately wrote the title song “Breaking and Entering” in the studio (recorded in one take in the studio and written over a few weeks), I’d written lyrics but we did it for the first time in one take, and, I rewrote Barrett Strong’s “Sugar Daddy” from a girls point of view.
What’s in the future?
Writing music and seeing where it takes us. In October I’m touring Florida and New Orleans then heading to New York. I’m working on national and international tours. You’ll find the schedule at my website www.elizaneals.com.
What is Soul music to you?
You can’t really explain it, it hits you in your heart runs and through your nervous system.
When did Soul music begin for you?
My sisters and I watched Soul Train, hearing Al Green, Aretha Franklin, or Marvin Gaye, we learned the songs and sang in three part harmony.
Who is the mother of Soul?
Aretha Franklin, no one can duplicate that sound, you can try, get close, but she’s the one.
Favorite Soul song?
“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.
Favorite Soul Food?
My man’s collard greens. His family comes from New Orleans and when he starts cookin’ it’s full of love.
Do you have a greatest Soul music moment?
Two years ago at a Christmas party for the Four Tops, Aretha Franklin sang “Silent Night” a Capella wearing her white mink coat. I cried.
Did you have a mentor in Soul music?
Barrett Strong, he’s a Soul giant and Motown icon and he taught me things I’d never learned anywhere else. He said, “When your singing don’t try and look cute, when your real people will listen. Let the snot run out of your nose, just get it out.” That was the best advice I ever got.
What would you sing or say at the Pearly Gates to get your soul inside?
I’d ask them to get my dad, tell him I’m here and sing my song “Save Me From The Fire”
Final thoughts?
Check out “Breaking and Entering,” come and see us live and request us on BB Kings Bluesville. I hope to continue making people feel good through music. Music is the best drug!”

Eliza Neals and the Narcotics are catching on cause one hit and your hooked.