Debuting "Who I Really Am," We Learn the Ins and Outs of Soulstar

Cincinnati, Ohio, is home to the vocal sensation Soulstar. As someone who has been singing for the past three decades, his journey began at an early age where he grew up singing in church and in school choirs. Sparking the dream of pursuing a singing career as an adult, Soulstar began writing his own original songs in Jr. High school and would perform them for student talent shows in High School, winning 1st place in every competition he entered.

Taking this victorious confidence with him in future endeavors, the stage name Soulstar was officially adopted through his college years. Inspired by the album from Music Soulchild of the same name.

Fast forward to his debut album, 'Who I Really Am,' which is comprised of mainly mid-tempo 90s R&B-inspired tracks that are as relatable as they are catchy. The pacifying vibrations of the album were achieved by keeping the subject matter pretty light and by not over-singing or over-producing the music.

Taking our attention to the title track and final piece to his soothing musical puzzle, "Who I Really Am," sends you into a frenzy of soul-infused timbres that launch you into a heartfelt swing of emotions. You hear the passion exuded by Soulstar simmering in his indulgent vocal runs and overall enchanting croons.

Utilizing the perfect balance of timing and spatial cues, the downtempo ambiance that is illuminated in the opulent instrumentation fixates on meaningful percussion hits and warm guitar riffs that are strummed with a purpose. "Who I Really Am" takes over your very being as soon as the sound waves transmit a frequency so sweet and precious you never want it to end. You can hear the authenticity of Soulstar drip into each word he conveys as the lyrical framework unravels into a full-on ballad of vulnerability with lyrical motifs such as 'I want someone who's going to love me for who I really am.'

Blending his sentimental core with words that relate to his audience in a poignant manner, Soulstar truly has us on the edge of our seat as he invites us into his world of intrapersonal thoughts. Reflective of the striking hues exposed on the debut album, we suggest you get ready to feel the heart-rending sound in the wistful debut of "Who I Really Am."

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Soulstar, and congratulations on the release of your debut album 'Who I Really Am.' While taking in the title track, we felt the emotion you placed into each word projected. What moment or story inspired the creation of this song?

The message in the song "Who I Really Am" is a sum of all of the feelings and experiences I’ve had throughout my life, as a child, and as an adult. I’ve always felt that I have so much more to offer than what meets the eye, or ear in my case. While being a singer has afforded me many opportunities and has enriched my life in some ways, I feel it has also made it more difficult and challenging to navigate through the idea of finding true love or genuine companionship. I believe I’ve been given gifts from God that matter so much more when they’re shared with others and the reception I’ve received from people throughout my life has been overwhelmingly humbling and empowering. At the end of the day, it would just be nice to have some of that energy returned to me in the form of a true, romantic love that I can keep for myself, something that’s just for me. I want someone to fall in love with me the same way they fall in love with my voice.

What was your reasoning for placing it as the final song on the tracklist? Was there a method to the way you formed the overall song layout?

I wanted this album to feel like a “vibe,” wanting the songs to flow from one to the next so the listener can just push play and go along with me. In a sense, the album is like an episode of a sitcom or a short film, there’s the humor and fun moments but also the lows and the drama but all of which anyone can relate to. This album serves as an introduction to me as an artist. All the songs reflect who I am, as the lyrics are words and messages from my point of view. With that being said, it seemed appropriate that the title track ends the album and serves as the final impression - what is it that I want to leave the listener with, what do I want them to remember? At the core, I’m most powerful when I’m at my most vulnerable state and I believe the song captures just that.

Creating music that is non-gender conforming is brilliant and inclusive. We love that. What inspired you to take this approach to the album?

Not too often, but there were times as a child I was teased by the songs I would sing. I naturally gravitated towards songs sung by women because my singing voice, much like any kid, was high-pitched. I was able to sing along to Whitney and Mariah with ease. It also didn’t hurt that they had some of the best and most popular songs in the 90s. But I would hear things like “why are you singing those girl songs?” or “oh wow you sing like a girl” and I remember how that bothered me. In my mind, I was just singing. In more recent years, I visited a karaoke spot that had a rule that no one could sign up for a song to sing if the artist was of the opposite sex. As crazy and ridiculous as it sounds, that was the rule. It just reminded me that there are people that still focus on the wrong thing when it comes to music and songs. What’s most important, in my opinion, is the message, not the messenger. I sing about the ins and outs of love, falling in love and falling out of love, searching for love, and loving oneself. These are universal messages. I thought one day, wouldn’t it be dope to make songs that don’t specify gender so that people wouldn’t have to change the lyrics around or possibly feel guilty about singing along to the song as is? Not only has this helped me become more creative when writing, I feel it gives my songs more purpose that no matter what a person’s gender or sexual orientation, or identity is, but they can also feel included when singing along with me.

Could you please take us into any memorable moments from the creation of the album? What does this project say about you as an artist and individual?

In the beginning, my intent wasn’t to necessarily create an album but I knew I wanted to write new songs. No matter how much I may want to sit down and write lyrics, they have to come to me. I can make all the effort, but creatively there has to be something that sparks in me for me to write a song. But once that happens, the process goes rather quickly. Most of my songs are written in a half-hour or less. I start with the hook and then to the verses. Recording is the same process for me. I lay down the hook, then I sing the verses and end with harmonies and adlibs. I recorded the entire album in 6 studio sessions, somewhere between 16-18 hours total. I prefer to sing live and have much less experience singing in a studio, but despite the challenges, I was able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. I kept my album a secret from friends and family until my birthday when I announced the release date. I taught myself how to upload my music online to streaming platforms and even did my cover work myself. I’m proud of the final product and feel that if I’m able to make it through bouts of anxiety, a pandemic, surviving Covid myself, a low budget, and very little assistance in the creation of this project - there isn’t anything I can’t do!

What's next for you?

My dream is to put a band together and do some live shows now that things are opening back up. Like I’ve said before, I feel more comfortable singing live and I can’t wait to hear this music in that element and connect with fans of mine in that way. There’s also talk of a video shoot to support this album but that is still in the early stages of discussion. I’ve already completely written my sophomore album, “After Hours,” that I plan to start recording this summer. In addition, I’ve written original Christmas music that I plan to add to a few traditional Christmas songs and release my Holiday EP “Holiday Swag” later this year. I’m also curating a collaboration album of new and aspiring independent R&B/Hip-Hop artists based out of Atlanta. I would love to potentially travel/tour with these artists to support the project. Lastly, I recently started ‘Sing Like a SoulSTAR’ vocal lessons and opened my online retail shop earlier this year. This is my “GO” time and I’m doing all the things that make me happiest while I’m still able!