Quanteisha Benjamin (Miss Q-Benjamin) is an up-and-coming R&B artist from Edmonton. She kicked off her career when she won the Bounce 91.7 FM Showdown at the age of 16, and has since been signed to Warner Music Canada. Miss Q-Benjamin is now 19, and her song, Stars, won a Juno for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards. Youthink recently had a chance to speak with the singer about her plans for the future and what it’s like trying to break into the mainstream music biz.
YT: You kicked off your singing career at just 16. Is music something you always wanted to do?
MQ-B: Always… even when I was younger than when I kicked off my career… when I’d listen to ‘90s R&B and hip hop as a kid, that’s what kind of made me make up my mind that, “OK, I feel so inspired right now,” and that’s exactly how I wanna make other people feel.
YT: What was it like competing in the Bounce competition, given its reputation for producing big stars such as Shiloh?
MQ-B: Exactly. It was crazy… it was nerve-racking. I entered just for the experience and even just competing was a great experience. There was one girl there who had been training throughout her entire life and at that point I had no training… I remember my mom saying, “It’s really great that you’ve come this far,” and I was like “No, Mom. I have to win.”
YT: How did you know that you wanted to be a performer?
MQ-B: I kind of made up my mind as soon as I listened to music that that’s what I want to do, that’s who I want to be. I got a little taste of it [at the Bounce Showdown] and I needed more. It’s like when your mom makes some great mashed potatoes, you’re not going to have a little bite, you’re going to want to finish the whole thing. I’m so hungry... I wanna finish to the end.
YT: Have you always been strictly into R&B? Or have you ever tried singing songs from other genres?
MQ-B: Oh, yes, I have. That’s what mainly inspires me… not a lot of people know that I’m very eclectic. I love jazz and old ‘70s and ‘80s kind of stuff. It’s mostly an internal thing, like I’ll sing with my family or just by myself. Sometimes I’ll even sing Taylor Swift and that’s like country-pop. I love different genres of music.
YT: How did it feel going to the Juno Awards for the first time and winning?
MQ-B: It was so surreal and so amazing… I didn’t think I was going to win, so it was a huge shock. I couldn’t believe it.
YT: How has winning a Juno Award changed you
as an artist?
MQ-B: It taught me that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter who you’re up against or how small you are. [The song] had a great message, it was really positive. I think that’s why it won.
YT: If there was one thing you could change about the Canadian music scene, what would it be?
MQ-B: I think that people need to realize that talent comes from all across Canada. If you have the talent and the drive to succeed, then it can happen for you. The common misconception is that the only good artists are born in Toronto and I don’t think that’s true at all.
YT: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
MQ-B: I would love to collaborate with Kanye West… I have so much respect for him, even though he’s kind of a jerk, but he owns up to his mistakes… I think that’s a really good quality to have.
YT: How would your friends describe you as an artist and as a person?
MQ-B: I asked that question to one of my friends... they told me that I’m a very real person and what you see is what you get.
YT: If you weren’t singing, what would you want to do in the future?
MQ-B: I don’t know. It would have to be something that involves music. I’d probably be a DJ or a music label owner or something like that.
YT: What is your favourite music memory from the past year?
MQ-B: A tie between the Junos and getting signed with Warner Canada. Both times I was out of my mind, just out of my mind.
YT: You’ve already accomplished so much in the past year, what’s on your to-do list for 2012?
MQ-B: Oh, so much stuff. There are so many goals I haven’t accomplished. I want to get more well-known… get promoted on a worldwide level… I want to see the world, but I don’t think the world knows my name yet, so the job’s not done.
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