Inaya Day is an amazing vocalist who, for the past 25 years or so has been featured on no less than 12 Billboard dance hits, half of those being #1s, as well as Top Tens in the UK, Australia and internationally! She is an accomplished songwriter and has sung and/or written gospel, musical theater, jazz, hip-hop, pop and R&B. She has also backed up the likes of Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Ultra Nate and many more. Music is her passion, her life, her love, her way of life and I am grateful that she graciously consented to do the following Q&A with me for Queens Our City Radio. Special thanks to Queens Our City Radio Manager, Barbara Sobel, for arranging this Q&A. ~ Dj Buddy Beaverhausen
Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Greetings from Our City Radio, Ms Day. It is a true pleasure to interview you!
Inaya Day: Thank you! It's a pleasure to be interviewed!
DBB: You are the hardest working club-music diva in the industry! It seems like everyone (understandably) wants to work with you. How many Billboard dance hits have you been featured on as lead vocalist to date?
ID: This summer, my song, MAKE SOME NOISE, marked my 12th Top ten billboard dance hit. I'm lucky and blessed to have six #1's within those 12. I surely won't complain.
DBB: I just want to say, I have been a huge fan of your dance music but was just blown away when I discovered your jazz rendition of the Gershwins' "Summertime" (from Porgy & Bess) live in Germany on YouTube! How did this all come about? (ps., you looked great in that tailored gown!)
ID: Why, thank you! And thank you for noticing that the dress was tailored! I'd auditioned for CATS here in New York. The audition was run by Arlene Phillips, judge from Britain's SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, to name just one of her many credits. She told me that she had a musical that she wanted me to do in Germany right then! I declined to leave within the next two days but, after I finished a Euro tour with the Harlem Gospel singers and an industrial gig in Belgium, I was driven to Germany, joined the cast of BROADWAY: Dusseldorf, and sang SUMMERTIME in the second act.
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DBB: That's marvelous! Now, you've written for Bootsie Collins, Randy Crawford and Missy Elliott, among others. Obviously an accomplished songwriter in your own right, please tell us about your musical background.
ID: Much of my family sings. We're all from the Baptist church. The first place my mom took me as a newborn was to church and I've been there ever since. Gospel is my background and musical foundation. I became a musical theater performer at the age of 12 and am still a card-carrying member of the Actor's Equity Association.
DBB: Who were your musical influences growing up? And could you share with us what your childhood was like?
ID: Growing up, my musical influences were The Clark Sisters, The Hawkins' Family, The Richard Smallwood Singers, Chaka Khan, and Ella Fitzgerald. When I was a kid, there was always music in my house. My older sister played music all the time, and once my mom bought me a stereo, that was IT! Music Music Music! We often went to my mom's sister's house where i'd listen to my cousin rehearse with his band all night. This band later became known as the Gold+ Selling act, SKYY, who made songs like CALL ME, and LET'S CELEBRATE....and they weren't the only ones I'd hear rehearsing in my Aunt's basement; Cameo, Brass Construction, and some others filled my ears with live music, as well. Music was and has been a permanent fixture in my life.
DBB: Barbara Sobel informs me you have hot, new single out right now called "Rock This Party." Could you tell us more about it? What was your inspiration for the song and the video?
ID: Well, there's a festival in Melbourne, Australia called MidSumma. A while back, Nick Jay, an Aussie DJ, sent me a track and the first thing that came to me was the hook, "miiiiid summmmmmer, no better feelin' than this". I'd performed there and had gotten such a warm welcome, I guess I was still on a high and wanted to write about it. That was almost two years ago and we never released it. This year, the MidSumma folks licensed it as their theme song, which is pretty cool.
DBB: Your house music career began in the mid '90s in Europe with "Keep Pushin'" and "Horny." What brought you abroad to do these fabulous, now-classic numbers?
ID: Musical theater took me to Germany. One of my directors introduced me to Boris Dlugosch. At the studio with Boris, I met Mousse T. We made KEEP PUSHIN'. That hit worldwide. We followed up with HOLD YOUR HEAD UP HIGH. That hit worldwide. Then, we did HORNY. That song mega hit so I figured I'd be in house music for the long haul.
DBB: And your fans, including me, are thrilled you decided that! You then went on to do the groundbreaking "Movin' Up" with the great producer, Mike Cruz and your good friend, Tichina Arnold (as China Ro). Many of us best know Ms Arnold for her work on tv's Martin, Everybody Hates Chris and in the musical film, Little Shop of Horrors. Why did she record under an alias? And how did you two come to be friends?
ID: Tichina recorded under an alias for the same reason that I did in the beginning. We were both from other genres of music and, at that time, one would do well not to cross the lines. Tichina and I went to the same high school. We sang in the same gospel chorus and sometimes, she'd ask me to walk her to the bank so she could deposit a "big check" from one of her acting jobs. We became thick as thieves.
DBB: What was it like to work with Mike Cruz?
ID: It's awesome to work with Mike Cruz! It's like making music with my brother! I truly adore his talent AND his person! He's never produced a track for me that I didn't like!
DBB: In your long string of dance songs, which one is your personal favorite?
ID: I guess if I had to choose, I'd choose KEEP PUSHIN' because it's my first.
DBB: Give us your view of the state of the club music industry today.
ID: The state of the club music industry is alive and well but the plight of the true club music maker is bleak. Pop stars are now singing the up tempo music that club music makers usually do, so it makes it harder for the ones who are making true club music to shine through. What they label as club music, which is really pop, has infiltrated the club chart. So the industry is thriving but its true artists struggle to be considered.
DBB: Did you know Lonnie Gordon is currently recording a cover version of "Horny" in the UK? Any opinions?
ID: No, I didn't know that. Someone has recorded KEEP PUSHIN', too! I think it's great. I've re-recorded other artists' tunes, myself. I count it a blessing that my songs are being chosen... especially if they're songs that I've written and published.
DBB: I'm sure you're aware of your international, adoring LGBT fan base. What would you like to say to them?
ID: Thank you for your support and LOYALTY!
DBB: Is there anyone you've worked with and thought, afterwards, "never again?" Could you share with us anything about that type of professional experience?
ID: YES! It was actually an UNprofessional experience. One producer I worked with had absolutely NO knowledge of music whatsoever. He didn't know what unison, harmony, stacking, key signatures, octaves, etc meant. Nothing. Working with him was like running outside but somehow ending up back in the house again,,,,,over and over....just an exercise in futility. Taking instruction from him was impossible and being put in that position by my A&R was insulting and frustrating. Never again.
DBB: Thank you so much, Inaya Day, for your time and attention. We look forward to the hot, new remixes of "Rock This Party" coming up from Sobel Nation. Are there any last shouts out to your fans, friends, family?
ID: Yes! Thank you for all of the awesome, positive energy and Happy Holidays!!!!!