Uptown June 07 2012

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www.uptownmag.com A dream come true cover story Local pop/soul singer Flo's career continues to ramp up with the release of her second album, Pieces of Me June 9, 8 p.m.,West End Cultural Centre w/ Noma, Those Guys feat.Mkaps, Xanadoods feat. Ismaila music preview FLO CD RELEASE PARTY Jen Zoratti less or the inspiring Butterfly, Flo's message is indeed uplifting, but not relentlessly so; heartache and loss are also dealt with in a personal, honest way. It's little wonder, then, that Flo has earned a faithful follow- ing of young fans who have been profoundly touched by her music. As for being a role model,"Oh frick, bring it love hearing songs that have great produc- tion but, beyond that, I love hearing lyrics that touch your soul. I think of songs like Christina Aguilera's Beautiful or Pink's Less Than Perfect—or even Katy Perry's Firework. It lifts you up. I wanted songs that could lift people up — that would motivate them. If I'm going to write a catchy song, I want good lyrics to be sticking in your brain." Whether it's the anti-bully anthem Hate- ing songs that people could dance to at the expense of quality lyrics. "I believe music is powerful," she says. "I on!" she says. (Flo's uncurbed enthusiasm is infectious; almost everything she says has a few exclamation marks tacked on the end of it.) artists who say, 'Look—I'm not a role-model type, I do what I need to do.' For me, when you choose a certain path in life, you need to look at what comes with it. And for me, it would be a huge, huge, crazy huge honour to have kids look up to me. The fact is, kids lis- ten to Top 40 music—but not all of it is OK for your four- or six-year-old to be singing. I "I respect artists that are real — I respect Flo want to have music that's OK for two-, four-, 10-year-olds to be singing. I've had some kids approach me through Facebook and Twitter and say they look up to me and, when that happens—Oh! Be still my heart." When Flo was grade-school age, she was treating a supportive audience of stuffed ani- mals to renditions of Whitney Houston songs (sung into a toothbrush microphone, natch). She and her two sisters —"I was the salami in the sandwich," she jokes — were all little songbirds, belting out pop hits in the back of the family car. "Any one of us could have pur- sued it, but the music bug really bit me. I'm sure I drove my friends and family crazy—I sang all the time." Still, like many children of immigrant par- to be more upbeat," explains Flo (aka Flor- ence Oramasionwu). "The first album, I was proud of the process and the result,but one of the vibes of my personality that didn't really come through was how upbeat I am. It was sort of mid-tempo and more jazzy—which is great—but sometimes you just want a beat! I wanted songs people could dance to." That said, Flo wasn't interested in mak- vedi, Pieces of Me comes as the decidedly more up-tempo follow-up to 2007's self-titled debut. "Personally, I really wanted (this record) house Flo, couldn't be more aptly named. Like the woman behind it, the newrecord is posi- tive, encouraging, upbeat, strong and beauti- ful—and reminds you that you are, too. Produced by WCMA winner Arun Chatur- P ieces of Me, the second (and recently WesternCanadian MusicAwardnomin- ated) albumfrom local soul/pop power- was a straight-A student but, unlike in lan- guage arts, art, dance and choir, she had to sweat to score As in math and science. "Look- ing back, the arts came really naturally to me. I remember studying for hours for a sci- ence test, but writing a paper? That was no problem." Despite being active in choir and possess- parents. They were supportive, but I was raised to excel in science andmath," she says. "Arts were a hobby." Of course, the pragmatic, hard-working Flo ing a massive, soul-stirring voice, Flo was a "closet singer;" it was a guarded talent she only shared with close friends and family— until one fate-deciding day in Grade 12, that is. choir that was the teacher's favourite, so she could get away with bringing in some- thing with a little more soul," Flo recalls."She brought in Joyful, Joyful, the song Lauryn Hill sings in Sister Act 2.Now,letmetell you, Iwas obsessed with Lauryn Hill. Something in me was like, 'Flo, you have to do this. You have to sing this solo.'" The teacher's pet in question was none "There was a really talented soloist in our other than pop singer Jodi King. After a series of live auditions, the choir determined that both Flo and Jodi should get turns at the mic on a cross-Canada choir tour and, with that, Flo made her solo debut. "Oh my goodness, Jen, something came alive in me," she gasps. "Walking forward and singing and having the choir behind me—it was my moment." After graduation, though, Flo's practical advice. She dusted off her dreams of being a singer and, in 2003, auditioned for Canadian Idol in Toronto, placing in the Top 100. "I just wanted to stand in front of professionals who could tell me where I stood." The rest is history. Flo has two full-length earned an undergrad degree in physical ther- apy from the University of Manitoba, but the passion wasn't there. "I remember my par- ents, with all the love in their heart, looking atmeand saying,'You're confused.' I basically lived in the career resource centre trying to figure out what I should do." Ultimately, Flo took some of her own side took over."I didn't like to ruffle feathers," she says."So, I toldmyself,'Take these dreams and shove them under your bed.'" Flo threw herself into her studies and UPTOWN June 7, 2012 5 ents, the Oramasionwu siblings were raised by their Nigerianmomand dad to study hard and get a good, practical job. "I have amazing albums under her belt, as well as high-profile opening gigs for Devine Brown, Boyz II Men and, yes, even her idol Lauryn Hill. "Oh my fricking goodness, that was beyond a dream come true," she says. "If you would have told me I'd be opening for her, I would have told you, you were crazy. "Dreams really do come true." For more info see our What's Up entertain- ment listings beginning on page 8, or online at Uptownmag.com.

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