Interview with Syesha Mercado

By April Chieffo,

Syesha Mercado is best known for competing on the seventh season of American Idol. As the second runner-up on the show, she hasn’t slowed down since. She has taken the world by storm, appearing in the Broadway tour of Dreamgirls last year, putting the finishing touches on her debut EP, due out this summer, and gearing up for the release of her debut film Dreams.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Who inspired you to become a singer?

Syesha Mercado: My mother. I would watch her sing in church and I always admired her vocal power, confidence and ease. I would sit and watch her and think to myself ‘I want to move audiences with my voice the way she does.’ My mom used to do opening acts for The Staple Singers, a group signed to Stax Records during the 60’s and 70’s, with her band called Varma Creation. She was always performing whether onstage doing theater, or behind a mic in church belting it out.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How long have you been singing?

Syesha Mercado: Since I was two years old I would follow my mom around the house singing. My first solo was in church: “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How did your time on American Idol Season 7 help your singing career?

Syesha Mercado: It gave me a lot of exposure.

American Idol really is one of the world's best platforms for breaking new artists. So for me, it really took my career from 0-60 in giving me exposure. Which made things a little easier when it came to working with award-winning talented writers and producers for my projects, and for projects that I am also contributing to this year.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How would you describe your music style?

Syesha Mercado: My style is very eclectic. I blame my parents for that. Growing up having bi-cultural parents, my father is Puerto Rican and my mother is Bahamian, at a young age I was exposed to all genres. [It] gave me a strong appreciation for all types of music and it's definitely aided in my versatility as an artist. One day I can totally feel like a rocker, and the next an R&B diva. And I think it shows through in my body of work. What excites me is that because of this, I believe that there will be a little something for everyone on my new project.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: You recently recorded your debut album, when do you plan to release the album?

Syesha Mercado: Actually at this point I’ve recorded a lot of songs; enough for an album. But as far as the full album is concerned, it’s about pulling together the songs that embody the spirit of my message as the woman behind the music. I am releasing my self-titled EP Syesha, ready for release in August of 2011. The first single dropping in June of 2011 “Rock’d Up” is really going to make people talk.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Do you have original songs featured on the album?

Syesha Mercado: Yes. “Rock’d Up” I co-wrote with a talented songwriter, Corey Chorus. And we are already putting together three more singles for the fans to really rock with.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: What message do you hope to convey through your music?

Syesha Mercado: Life without limitation is the way we become who we really are, so don't expect the Syesha you saw on American Idol to be the same Syesha you see on stage this year. I took my time with my music, so I could really dive deep to get to that place where the music is authentic. We [are] excited about it! They say art imitates life. I would say that art creates life.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Do you plan to go on tour to promote the album?

Syesha Mercado: Definitely, that’s the fun part about all of this, being able to create, share, and get out there and dance with the fans.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Along with being a singer, you recently starred as Deena Jones in the Broadway tour of Dreamgirls, what did you enjoy most about the experience?

Syesha Mercado: The most beautiful thing about the Dreamgirls tour was that it gave me the inside look at where my fans are, and to hit stages in such a wide range of markets. Detroit and Tokyo are VERY different places from the people all the way to the way the air feels when you breathe. But one thing that was consistent was that everyone we played for really embraced the music, and that means a lot to me.

When we were in Tokyo, Japan a young couple, who were musicians, were waiting for me at the stage door before the show. The girl was so shocked to see me, her hands were literally trembling and she was speechless, as she covered her mouth in disbelief. They ended up coming back several times, each time bearing gifts. They even made me a scrapbook of drawings and [photos] they took of us together. Inside they wrote a letter to me in English about how moved they were by my performance. It's supporters like that and their thoughtfulness, appreciation and continued love that makes me feel so grateful and keeps me in this business. I continue to succeed because of their support. I do this for them, so that I can touch their lives for the better and inspire them to go after their dreams. Connecting with my fans was the most enjoyable experience of it all.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Did you find you had similarities to Deena Jones?

Syesha Mercado: The process by which she evolves as a woman is not far from my own discovery process as an artist. Am I a diva yet? Absolutely not, but you may think so in a few months. And I'm not afraid of that.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: You have starred in multiple commercials in the past, and you are featured in the film Dreams, is this role your first film role?

Syesha Mercado: That's right!

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How did you get involved in this film?

Syesha Mercado: After Idol I auditioned for a major motion picture that I booked. I ended up not doing the film, but little did I know that audition would be the link to landing the role of Mia through my relationship with the casting director. It’s all about making a memorable impression in the audition room. The casting director sent me the script, I read it and fell in love. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Chicago filming during the coldest winter ever.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How do you get in character for your acting roles?

Syesha Mercado: I studied all the major forms of method acting throughout my schooling, so sometimes I draw upon that great acting is simply being.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: How was your experience working on this film?

Syesha Mercado: Amazing. Our director, Joel Kapity, was so kind and helpful, which made my first experience easy. Joel was open to my ideas and opinions and he did a great job making everyone feel comfortable on set. From the cast to the crew everyone was a pleasure to be around.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Do you prefer singing, theater acting or film or modeling more?

Syesha Mercado: That's like asking me to choose between mochi and vanilla sandwich cookies. I love them all, but my first passion was singing.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: If you could work with anyone in the music industry who would it be and why? In the film industry?

Syesha Mercado: Bruno Mars is one of the purest artists we've been blessed to have in a long time. A collaboration with him would be really cool. On the film side, I'd love to work with Will and Jada Smith, preferably on something they direct. I really like the work they've done with Overbrook, and a part of me hopes to someday be able to reach similar success through my own production venture.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: You participate with multiple charities, can you tell me a little more about your charity work?

Syesha Mercado: One of my favorite causes to support is the Amer-I-CAN Program started by NFL Hall of Fame recipient, Jim Brown . The program helps youth reach their full potential turning “I can’t” into “I CAN”. I also support any program that supports arts in schools; I've been fortunate to have opportunities to contribute to Save the Music's causes in school programs.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: What is one thing you want people to know about you?

Syesha Mercado: [I want people to know] that I'm committed to answering the call of all of my supporters, and giving you the album you've been asking for. There is love laced through every song, and I'm finally ready to put them out.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: What do you hope to accomplish in the years to come?

Syesha Mercado: [I hope] to make an impact through the message in my music, especially on my first major tour. And whoever has the Eartha Kitt rights, read this and call me, I am so ready to embody the role and love her story.

I strive for Longevity and happiness while doing what I love.



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