My father was military, Air Force. So we moved to Germany when I was six, there for five years, then he was stationed in Montana, and I finished high school there. Then I went to Wisconsin for six years, then Los Angeles, and I was there for six years. Both of my families are 13th generation [New Orleans]. My mom’s side and dad’s side are both from the Seventh Ward. Huge families. Because I was always on the road as a child, this was always home. This is where we always came back to, because we were nomads, basically.
My mother sings; my father plays bass. They started me on piano when I was three. It was part of the regimen. My father [James Delay] is a big, big influence as far as the exposure factor in music, the spectrum of what I listened to, because he listened to everything.
When we lived in Germany, we went to the Base Exchange to buy CDs; my father would go every week to get new CDs.
He’s a musicologist, a big-time collector. So I listened to everything. And my Aunt Lillian [Boutté] was in Germany. She would come around, her and [uncle] John [Boutté]. They would come and do gigs at the Air Force base, rehearse in our living room, stay with us. I was always around music. That was the normal factor, the constant.
At Wisconsin, I stepped away from the straight music scene—my undergraduate degree is in theater. Then I went to Marquette [University] on a costume-design scholarship. In Milwaukee, I worked the theater scene, sang in a soul trio and back-up in a hip hop/poetry fusion band and hung out in the underground poetry scene. [In 2012] I was stuck in a holding pattern in L.A. I was a sideman in a band that had 18 pieces. Which was great; it was awesome. But I had progressed in the craft itself and realized that I had something to say now and that I wanted to produce my own work. I felt that the environment here [in New Orleans] is much more conducive to creating. It’s a different space here, versus in L.A., where you create to prove yourself, constantly. There, it’s, ‘Look what I can do! Look what I can do! Hire me! Hire me!’ Here, people are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say, who you are as a person. Los Angeles taught me what my commitment to being an artist, of finding my self-definition as an artist. I had to define what my definition of success is. I knew I wanted to make a living as an artist. I knew I wanted to perform. I knew that this is how I wanted to make a living.
I came home and did a solo record. Coming Home is about me coming home on my own terms. My album is a vocal album, but it runs the full spectrum of styles—the spectrum is as broad as my taste. But at the end of the day, I like rock ’n’ roll, that old-school New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll that’s just irresistible to dance to. And I feel that as a black female, especially a Southern black female, our voices, our stories, have yet to be heard. I’m interested in singing songs that make people think, that make people feel. Songs that remind people of their humanity. That’s what I’m interested. That’s why I got into this in the first place.”