Before there was the #MeToo movement, Devine Evans stood on the front lines of the fight against gender-based inequality.
The five-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter, producer, and industry veteran showcased his dedication to all things equality through an essential 2016 book 'Sheet Music: The Diary Of A Songwriter.'
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Evans is shedding light on the many tragic occurrences within the music industry. He also released the accompanying album of the same name, which comes with the book and features 63 female artists, musicians, and sexual assault survivors from around the world.
The book carries over 124 powerful women with quotes from names like Janelle Monaé, Queen Latifah, Dania Ramirez, and more. He hopes that women in the entertainment scene will feel empowered to speak their truth while letting them know they're never alone.
Six years after launching the book and releasing the album, Evans continues to join the fight for gender-based equality by pairing up with New Orleans native Recording Artist Stephanie Marcellé for a new project.
The 'H.U.M.A.N.' project is said to be an acronym album that provides five songs exposing the harsh realities of sexual assault and surviving the trauma.
Devine Evans recently teamed up with a new Black-owned printing company, which is currently taking pre-orders for the new edition, which should be shipping as early as June.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic, Devine Evans. We were moved to hear your initiatives and dedication toward gender-based equality. What inspired you to write the book 'Sheet Music: The Diary of a Songwriter?'
Unfortunately, the inspiration behind The Diary of a Songwriter project came from a real-life encounter with my extended family. I got a disturbing text message from my sister Sophia saying she wanted to meet with me to talk. When she asked if we could have the meeting in a public place, I immediately knew something was wrong. We met up on a jazz night at the W hotel in Hollywood, and that’s when she told me that she was raped. The news set fire to my heart and soul,, and like anyone who loves someone, my natural instinct was to track the person down. Instead, I took the vision I had from a dream where I pictured a map of the world where all of the continents were black. On the map, California had a single light that flickered and in my mind, I imagined that light being Sophia's story. I woke up and thought to myself, If this light reflects her story, how many lights would it take to light up the world? How many more “Sophias” are out there? I hired a team of 8 people and we began a social media conversation with about 1500 women worldwide. Out of those 1500 women, we gathered a collection of stories from 124 women from every continent on the planet. Everywhere except Antarctica lol. I asked each of these women to either contribute a real-life experience or, if their personal encounter made them feel uncomfortable, I asked them to write a strong piece of advice that Women of all ages could follow. Some of the advice that is most notable came from artists like Janelle Monaé, Queen Latifah, Vanessa Simmons, Kristinia Debarge, Dania Ramirez (X-Men), Nora Arnezder (Army of the Dead) What was it like recording the album 'Sheet Music: The Diary of a Songwriter?' Did it feel empowering to work alongside so many powerful, artistic women?
The album was one of the most incredible moments of my life. The entire album was inspired by a photoshoot that we did at Henson recording studios inside of the legendary Studio A where the iconic song “We are the world” was recorded. I chose this room on purpose because of its history of fighting for change. We did a Photo themed after one of the Chapters in the book titled Warrior. The concept of the photoshoot had 30 plus women from the book dressed in all black and painted with what we called “Devine’s Tribal Paint.” When I saw the final image, it was crucial that we did a song to accompany the photo. That song naturally inspired me to push to create an entire album. The album features 63 of the women from the book that all were directed by myself and my artist www.elleed.com. I had keyboardist Bonnie Mcintosh (Khelani’s current keyboard player and Selena Gomez’s former player, that’s where she and I met). The song also has live guitars by female guitar player Jo Jo Draven who plays for the blue man group. The song features live drums recorded in Paris, France, by drummer Alix Ewandé. The album features live violin by violinist Ash Myers who has played for Kanye West, Chris Brown, and wiz khalifa. The entire album was recorded on five continents Africa, Australia, Europe, South America, and North America.
What should we expect from the 'H.U.M.A.N' album with Stephanie Marcellé? How is this project different from your album 'Sheet Music: The Diary of a Songwriter'?
The 'H.U.M.A.N.' project is going to be a 5 song Ep that will dive deep into the pain and trauma that my dear friend Stephanie Marcelle encountered when she was raped in her college dorm. The entire story behind this incident will be included in the new edition of the Sheet Music: The Diary of a Songwriter book that will be released this summer. Why did you want to create a new edition for 'Sheet Music: The Diary of a Songwriter?' Does the new edition aim to continue spreading awareness of sexual assaults in the industry?
I am a father to two daughters. I have two young female nieces, and I owe my entire career to women. Only one man contributed to the rise of my success. I owe it to my daughters, my nieces, and the women who birthed life into my career to fight for them. Lisa “Lefteye” Lopes from TLC, Joyce Irby from the band Klymaxx, Queen Latifah, Outkast’s A&R Regina Davenport, Mary J. Blige, and Janelle Monaé all took a chance on me when no one else would and 5 grammy award-winning projects and one NAACP Film composer award later, It is only right that I stand on the front lines for them. What's next for you?
Currently, I am preparing the live music Intro for the highly anticipated Janet Jackson Essence Festival Performance. I consider the live music world my side hustle. My main priority right now is my artist Elle E.D. Together, she and I are pushing to give the female voice in Rap music a presence that we haven’t felt since Lauryn Hill blessed us with her debut album. We are putting everything we have into this, and We are excited to share this new vision with the world.