At a time when women are seen as objects and not companions, soul singer Lina has set out to prove that it’s what inside that truly makes you beautiful. Raised in Dallas-Ft.Worth, Texas, Lina grew up in a music-loving family with roots in Gospel and Jazz. She began singing in her local church at the age of four, and toured with the choir.
After performing solo tours with her mom and stints singing at weddings and other gatherings, Lina’s talent landed her a deal with Atlantic Records as a song writer for artists on their roster. Her raw, sultry sound ultimately got her noticed and signed as an artist in her own right, and she released a debut album entitled Stranger On Earth.
The multi-lingual songstress is back on Hidden Beach with her sophomore album Inner Beauty Movement, a new label, and an upcoming Save Your Soul compilation series that will be released through Lina’s own MoodStar Recordings. AllHipHop.com Alternatives spoke with Lina about her love for music, her future and what it is that makes us all so beautiful.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How did you end up on Hidden Beach?
Lina: I was signed to Atlantic initially as a writer and I was happy doing that honestly, only because as a writer you still get to express yourself, but you don’t have to show your face everywhere. I know that the marketing and your image is a part of the business, but it’s not necessarily me. We were looking for a deal for the producer who had executive produced Stranger On Earth, because he is an amazing vocalist, and one of the stops was at Hidden Beach. My manager at the time had played some of the stuff he had produced for me, and they ended up asking about me. It truly was perfect timing because I had just got dropped from Atlantic and they believed in me, so I talked to them for about a year and decided to sign.
AHHA: I remember your first album on Atlantic and it was very refreshing and now with your sophomore release [Hidden Beach] always seem to breathe life into the industry at a time when it’s needed. With that being said, how do you feel about women showing off more and more of their bodies, and how do you feel about the way a lot men in the industry speak about us?
Lina: It’s real sad. I mean I don’t want people to think that I am that serious about women dressing a certain way, but I do believe in being classy. I truly believe that there is a lack of balance in the way that we are not only portrayed, but portray ourselves. I think that women can do what ever they want to do as long as they are comfortable doing it, and are doing it for themselves and no one else, then there is no problem. But if you are doing it for someone else or for fame and on the inside you’re dying, it’s not okay. True beauty is something that you can’t see, bottom line and there is nothing more beautiful than believing in yourself.
AHHA: A few months ago, you had a contest for young writers, poets, etc. What made you create such a contest?
Lina: I am just an advocate for undiscovered talent, I love having talent shows and being introduced to people who are truly passionate about music – and when you go to stuff like that you find that people are so passionate. I am not talking about a cute girl who can’t really sing, but a producer likes her so he takes her to the studio and doctors up her vocals – these are people who would do it without being paid. I know that people are drawn to the glitz and the glamour of the industry and I’m not knocking that, but I have been around the world and heard people with amazing talent who will never be heard. So I wanted to do something just for them, because I love partnering up with people to write, I love going to live shows, I just love being around and being influenced by a true lover of music.
AHHA: I agree, and I feel that although there is nothing wrong with liking the glamorous part of the industry as well as the art, people now are too concerned with the material aspect of the business. So much that materialism is actually over compensating for the lack of art…
Lina: Exactly. We are so greedy and materialistic now, it’s sad. I really think that materialism is not only affecting the art, but also how we interact with each other. I mean men want to get mad at women because some are gold diggers and fake, but we get tired of walking away empty handed and if that’s all they are talking about and using to attract us, what do they expect? So they are dysfunctional and then we are dysfunctional, I mean it’s just messed up right now.
AHHA: What does the title Inner Beauty Movement mean to you?
Lina: It came to me in two different ways. One occurred during a party I attended for a rapper friend of mine, and the theme was a pajama party. So I am thinking it’s a party where people will be dressed in night gowns, but I get there and girls have on Victoria’s Secret with their butts out, and they were beautiful women. Some walked around like they owned the place, but others were looking like they were uncomfortable but were wearing the outfits for attention, and I thought to myself, ‘If they knew how beautiful they were in the inside, they wouldn’t care about what they had on.’ Because guys were going to look at them regardless, but instead these guys were groping these girls and didn’t know them from a hole in the wall.
The second way came from my mother and grandmother, I was in an accident when I was younger and I have these scars, and my mother also had to deal with scars and a physical impediment. I was told by both my mother and grandmother that the outside doesn’t truly make you beautiful, it’s the love you have in your heart that’s the real beauty. But overall I think that inner beauty is you dealing with your truth, if you want to be a stripper, go ahead. I cant judge you, but make sure that it’s something that you want to do not that someone else wants you to do.
AHHA: Each song on both of your albums is heartfelt and truly inspirational in one way or another. Where do you find inspiration to write your songs?
Lina: I am really just inspired by music in the past. Music is truly inspirational to me when it has melody. I am inspired by children and other things in life. Great musicians are a big factor in my inspiration – greats like Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke, so it’s everything.
AHHA: I love the song “Smooth”. At what point in your life did you write that song, and what were the circumstances?
Lina: That song is personal. It came out of a relationship that I had and I had to check myself about. I wrote “Smooth” because I honestly feel we don’t know how to love each other anymore and it’s because of the music. Music is so important and if you look it’s the urban music that are lacking in knowing how to put a relationship together, we are on the wrong track right now. If you don’t believe me, go find a love song from back in the day and listen to it and then try to find one now on the radio, there aren’t none. Music helps you find those feelings and whether you have been in love or not, music makes you want to be. So I honestly can tell you I am dysfunctional in relationships as most of us are because there’s no one to teach us.
AHHA: What is your favorite track on the album?
Lina: I would have to say “I Am”, because I wrote that song as I was recovering from being sick and I don’t get sick, but at this particular time I did to the point where I almost died. So that is where that song came from and also from the fact that there are a lot of artists out there like Mos Def and Talib Kweli that I want to blow up, I am telling them to keep on because they have nice messages.
AHHA: I also hear you can sing in a few languages. Are you planning on releasing an international album?
Lina: I can sing in French, Italian, German, Latin, Portuguese, Brazilian, and Cuban. I am working on a language album and also a Gospel album. I plan on releasing a complete standard Jazz album, where I will be doing some coverage, so I have a lot of projects on the works.
AHHA: Are you planning on collaborating with any Hip-Hop artists?
Lina: Actually I reached out to Mos Def and his mom, because when I was on Atlantic he was supposed to be on the single “Playa No Mo'”, but due to scheduling on both of our parts it didn’t happen. So I am definitely reaching out to him to work on a project, because I really love his music. There are a lot of artists I’d like to work with… Glenn Lewis… I am pleased about the collaboration with Anthony Hamilton because he is such an amazing artist. He has been through so much, I am just glad to see he is getting the recognition he deserves.
AHHA: Aside from writing and singing, you also started your own label, Moodstar Recordings, in which you are releasing a Save Your Soul compilation album. What is that about, and why did you decide to release it independently?
Lina: I released it independently, because right now it’s all about the spirit of the independent. We chose the independent route, because I didn’t want to have to deal with people focusing on imaging and marketing. When I initially went to a major label, the first thing they did was critique the artists, and I like the artists just the way they are, because they have that inner beauty and I love that. So because of that, we have a support from artists because of how our system works. Save Your Soul is music – from Country to Soul music that is for passionate artists. It’s all amazing unsigned artists who have regular 9-to-5 jobs, who play music because they love it. They do it regardless of whether they get a check or not, because it’s their escape.
AHHA: What do you want to say to the fans?
Lina: I will always be here for you, I am always going to continue to share my gift regardless of what’s going on. I am here for the people and my fans because I truly believe we are one.