by Rahmana Finney
From Baby Be Mine to Ain’t Nobody LIke You, Miki Howard has proven to be a true legend and a Queen in the realms of Funk, Soul, R&B and Jazz music. Her versatility and depth are unique to her stardom and unlike anyone else. Her ability to lullaby a beautiful love song, belt out a funky track, or croon a classic Jazz tune are all equally matched. In addition, her beauty and generosity of spirit puts the cherry on top of a genuine musical legacy. We were so moved by the movie based on her life Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story (2016). Her courage to share her personal struggles in life and in the music business was inspiring and truly touching.
Miki Howard’s childhood in Chicago around legendary gospel artists like The Caravans and The Pilgrim Jubilees, and soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples paved the road to her greatness. When she moved to LA with her mother, who began singing there with James Cleveland and hanging out with the likes of Shirley Caesar and Billy Preston, these influences along with a great love for jazz, especially Billie Holiday, sparked her pursuit as a professional singer. And we are so glad she did! Ms. Howard’s songs are timeless, ageless, and thus transcend generational boundaries.
Just as we expected, the motherly spirit of “Come Share My Love” and the raw feminine power of “Love Under New Management” is alive in Ms. Howard’s energy and laughter. WeWereFunky.com was blessed to be able to talk with her very briefly, and ask a few questions about her life and career:
So what song of yours is your favorite?
“Oh it’s really hard to say, it changes. But I really like “Ain’t Nobody Like You.”
That song is so funky!
“Yes it is. It’s a really good song!”
What is your favorite singing style?
“I really like jazz. You know the classic standards like Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Abby Lincoln. And, I also like Betty Carter.”
Are there any contemporary artists you really like?
“I like a lot of them, but you know, I wouldn’t really buy any of the albums.”
The music business has clearly been very difficult for artists— we noticed you were signed to a number of labels over the years. What would you say is the worst thing about the record business?
“Well there is good and bad, but you know just the way they treat artists. They don’t always have respect for the artistry. At least the music used to be good, you know, it had a message. But now, I mean a lot of it is garbage. I don’t mean to call people’s music garbage, but a lot of it is. And they don’t listen to this stuff. You know, they are listening to Frank Sinatra and Ella. And they don’t like their own kids listening to this stuff.”
You have been out of the music business for a while. What made you leave?
“Age! Gettin old. You know when I turned 31 I was like, ok this is it. And you know now there is really not an appreciation for the type of artist I am. I mean it went from like, Whitney Houston to Cardi B.”
Whitney was such an amazing artist.
“Yes she was really special.”
We see you started your own label; does the business side come easy to you or have you mainly stuck to the creative side and let others handle the business?
“I’m fine with business - my business side is basically “Gimme my money!”
You went natural and cut your hair short. Given the law that was just passed against discriminating against women of color for their natural hairstyles, this has clearly been an issue in our society. Was there any push back when you went natural from the record company?
“No not really. I cut my hair real short and dyed it blond one time but they were cool with it.”
Have you learned anything about being an artist since you left the music business that you didn’t know and if so what is it?
“Basically it can’t be taken away from you. Your artistry cannot be taken away. It’s always with you. An artist is always an artist.”
So you’ve got a couple of babies right?
“Yeah I’ve got 4 grandchildren, 3 children, and I can honestly say motherhood and family has been the best part of my journey.”
Well thank you so much for talking to WeWereFunky.com. Your artistry has been so inspiring.
“My pleasure. Thank you! I appreciate YOU.”
Miki Howard is a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum recording artist. For more, info including upcoming shows, log on to MikiHowardmedia.com