Christian hip-hop artist LaToria is currently one of the most talked about artist in Christian music. She has just released her new single "Watts," an uptempo track and features production by Freek van Workum and Daniel Young. We are honored to be able to catch up with her for this exclusive interview.
Hallels: LaToria, thanks so much for your time. Let's start with your own story, how did you come to know Christ?
Thanks so much for having me!
I grew up in a Christian home. I was raised by my mom and aunt primarily and I am the oldest of 5 kids between the two of them. They taught us about Jesus at an early age and I was intrigued by the idea of having my own relationship with God. During my teen and early adult years I found myself in a backslidden state and it took some unhealthy relationships and me bumping my head a few times before realizing, I needed a change. The Lord used my love for music and a few new relationships to pull me back into deep relationship with him. Shortly after, I was at a church and actually heard the Gospel for the first time in a new way. It hit home with me in a way it hadn't before. I rededicated my life to Christ, got plugged into a local church and young adult ministry. I've been running hard for Him ever since.
Hallels: How did you feel the Lord's leading to sing for Him?
I have been a lover of all types of music for as long as I can remember. I fell in love with hip hop at an early age. I can remember being about 7 or 8 the first time I saw Queen Latifah on Yo! MTV raps and I knew then that this is what I wanted to do. Even at that age I knew I wanted to make the same kind of cool music I was hearing then, but I wanted my music to focus on my faith. I didn't see any examples of that growing up. The closest I came to was Kirk Franklin. But he still wasn't making hip hop music. So I put that dream away for several years until one day, through a mutual friend I randomly met a producer who took me under his wing and that childhood dream resurfaced. I tested the waters by doing a couple of open mic events and the response each time was people were encouraged, excited and refreshed. This to me was confirmation to start a serious pursuit of becoming an artist.
Since that time, it has become clear to me that in this season of my life, this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. My heart is especially burdened for young women. They so desperately need positive female role models. They need examples of what a woman of God looks like in today's culture. I believe that is the call on my life both on and off the mic, to join the ranks of women out there who are answering that call so that the next generation can have an example to follow.
Hallels: Who would you say about the artists that you admire and listen to? How would then describe your own sound?
I don't have enough space to list out all of the musical influences I have! :) But here are a few to give you an idea of some of my favorites from different genres that do influence me in some way:
Israel Houghton, Lecrae, Kari Jobe, Lisa McClendon, Propaganda, Lauryn Hill, KB, Trip Lee, Flame, Kierra Sheard, Hill Song United.
I have witnessed all of these artists make great music that expresses their heart, perspective and relationship with God. They do a great job of drawing the listener in to their experience and leaving them with something to hold on to. I desire to do the same with my music.
As for my sound, I would say it is hip hop, with some soul, pop and an occasional EDM influences. With each song you will feel the energy of the mood and subject matter. You will have an experience with each song!
Hallels: Congratulations on the release of your new single "Watts," what is this song about? What is the story behind this song?
Thank you so much!
We as believers need reminders of why we have been saved. It is not only for ourselves, but that we would go and make disciples. Watts is a song that is meant to remind us of (Matthew 5:16).That this is what our lives should be about. Shining light and living life in such a way that it makes those who see us glorify the Father in Heaven and hopefully creates dialogue that leads to them also becoming followers of Christ.
The title Watts is a play on words. In the same way that a light bulb has the ability to shine light based on the amount of electricity powering it up(wattage), so do we. Our power or "Watts" doesn't not come from within ourselves. It is not our own, but Christ in us. He gives us the ability to shine His light into this dark world.
Hallels: Are you following up the single with an album? What will the title of the album be?
This is actually a single from my recently released album entitled The Long Walk Vol 1
Hallels: Whohave you worked with for this this new album?
Some of the producers featured on this album are, Black Knight, Tha Inna Circle, On Beat Music and Malik"Gumbo" Smith.
I also have few collaborations with CHH artists such as TJ Pompeo, Sean C. Johnson, Meek, B. Holy, Yung Rick and up and coming singer Halie Arreaga.
The project has released and is now available on iTunes, Amazon and all other digital outlets.
Hallels: How do you wish this new album will impact Christians as well as non-Christians?
The Long Walk vol.1' is the first of a series of albums that explore the different facets of the Christian journey. For the believer, it will serve as an encouraging soundtrack for those who have put their trust in Christ. For the unbeliever, it will serve as a window seat into the life of everyday Christians and some of their experiences. My hope for both types of listeners, is that they can relate and see the hope found in Christ.
Hallels: I believe right now you are also serving in a church. Can you tell us some of your responsibilities in church?
I currently serve on the communion team at my home Church, The Village where Matt Chandler is the lead teaching pastor. In addition to that, I lead a weekly Bible study at my day job.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to know more about you, where can they go?
You can find me on Instagram, twitter and Facebook by searching @LATORIAMUSIC
You can also go to my website, LATORIAMUSIC.COM