What do you do when you have a crush on someone who’s already in a relationship? What if you admitted what you felt and let the chips fall where they might? This hypothetical premise is addressed in Kamilah Gibson’s latest single “On My Mind”, which drops tonight at midnight across all major streaming platforms. The song uses a semi-apologetic tone, flirting with taboo territory.
Gibson, who resides in New York, says “On My Mind”, which was co-written with emerging New York R&B artist/producer, Sho Ishikura, and produced by Sho and Torna (a New York-based producer) provided her with the opportunity to jump into the hypothetical.
“From my catalogue in general, different songs tap into different experiences and different feelings. This is a bit more lighthearted. It’s about somebody having a crush on somebody else, and that person isn’t necessarily available, but you really want them to know how you feel. And everybody I think has had that experience. Whether or not you actually go for it and say something… the song is about that hypothetical moment. What if you just decided you were going to tell your crush, no matter where the chips fell, or how embarrassing it ended up being, or how taken they are, you just wanted them to know: ‘If ever you’re single, I would be interested’. We weigh these things in our heads, because, at some point or another, I think more people than not have encountered a situation where they’ve fallen for someone they probably shouldn’t have.”
What’s important to Gibson, through this single, is that people can have fun with music, that they can feel things, that people can discover new things about themselves through the music.
“I just want people to enjoy it ultimately,” said Gibson.
The “On My Mind” single follows the release of “So Long”, featuring Sho Ishikura, on February 2, with tons of music to come, including an EP, and a music video shot at Clifton Pier.
“On My Mind” is a more lighthearted summer island-infused vibe, when compared to the “So Long” collaboration she did with Sho, which showcases both their tastes and leans more to the rock side than Gibson said she would normally do.
If she had to place herself into a genre, Gibson said her music would be a fusion of many things. She thinks it’s an alternative neo R&B with flavors of jazz, Junkanoo and music she grew up listening to at home — dancehall, pop, R&B and reggae.
What she wants to create is magical, mellifluous, meaningful music. Her instrumentation and vocal harmonies indicate unbridled magnetism to unleash upon the world.
She is described as a soulful, eclectic songstress who creates luscious, intense soundscapes with her wide-ranging voice, and Gibson wants the Bahamian community to come along with her on her journey. She says it’s important to her to have them there with her.
“Home is such a big part of who I am. It’s what raised me. That’s my foundation — no matter how far I get away from home.”
As she pursues her music career, Gibson also works fulltime at a graphic design firm.
The daughter of Dr. Robert Gibson and Marie Sairsingh says she’s been in love with music all my life, and could not avoid it, especially having grown up with music enthusiasts for parents.
“My parents are both very much into culture in general, but music is specifically the thing that I felt most connected to them with. My dad was really into jazz, and my mom liked folk and soul, and all sorts of things. Both my parents are really big into music. My mom has a more eclectic palate than my dad, so I grew up listening to everything from Ira Storr and Tony “Exuma the Obeah Man” McKay to Ella Fitzgerald, to Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh… everything. My mom is a naturalized Bahamian, she was Jamaican-born, so I grew up with a sort of fusion experience at home, and all of that has influenced my music overtime, and made me who I am.”
Looking back she says she was connected to music all her life, but felt she discovered it in high school.
“My mom likes to tell the story of when I was three and Michael Jackson played the Super Bowl. Apparently I was so glued to the TV, all I could say to her when she asked me a question completely irrelevant to what was happening onscreen was ‘I must see Michael Jackson, I want to be Michael Jackson’. I don’t necessarily want that level of pop stardom, but I’ve been connected to music all my life.”
Music, she says, was the constant that kept her grounded and helped to teach her about life, and that is at the core of why she wants to continue to create it, for herself and others.
“Music is very cathartic. It can get you through some of the most elevating and traumatizing times, and many people associate music with memories. I try to make music that helps people find their way through their experiences and grow from them. It helps me in that way, and I want to share that with people,” said Gibson.
Gibson recalled participating in singing competitions in high school.
One of her most memorable competitions took place at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York in 2013, after she had moved to NYC to pursue her graduate degree at New York University after getting her undergrad degree in Toronto, Canada. She studied media culture and communication, but her research was on music and music industry, new technology and how they were affecting upcoming artists. In a sense she was researching her own future for grad school.
Amateur Night at the Apollo is one of New York’s most popular live entertainment experiences, attracting performers and audiences from around the world. The competition is known for its notoriously tough audience, gleefully deciding who will be good or be gone to win the grand prize.
Gibson got through the audition, won twice, came second once, and third in the final. She was top vocalist for the season, which she said was kind of cool.
“I didn’t think of it as a competition. I was really just challenging myself. At that point I was trying to be open to possibility. There are so many possibilities in New York, which is why I always wanted to be here. I didn’t really consider the competitive aspect until fairly late in the competition because that’s just not really in my nature,” she explained.
But she did think about what she could have done musically with the prize money if she had won. As of February 2017, the Super Top Dog grand prize of $20,000 was the purse in the adult category, with a $5,000 purse for the child star of tomorrow category.
“I would have been very excited to win it, and that’s how the competitiveness in me came out towards the end, but I was happy to have placed third and glad for the experience. I got to play to a sold-out theater of 1,200 people. I’d never done that before, so for me it just kind of proved that I could do it. I made it all that way. I could definitely do this.”
Gibson has joined the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and countless others who began their road to stardom on the Apollo stage and rubbed the “Tree of Hope” for luck.
“Some of my biggest idols, and people I grew up loving musically all shared that stage,” she said.
Gibson added that the stage at the Apollo is much smaller when you’re standing on it.
“The theater itself feels big because the seats go up so high, but the actual stage itself is not that big. I’m really grateful for the experience because it kind of kick-started everything, and I’ve just been honing the craft ever since,” she said.