BriaMarie Moss-Wilkerson walks into Saxby’s on Liacouras Walk all dolled up. But this superstar appearance is not reflected in her demeanor. Immediately she sits down and begins not just chatting with, but encouraging our young HCTU photographer to continue doing what she was doing.
The up-and-coming artist’s aura is glowing. Wearing a quilted, black biker style jacket on this unseasonably warm, mid-winter day, a fitted white-tee embellished with the word “BLESSED” and her signature cargos, BriaMarie doesn’t look like she just drove from her studio in New Jersey to Temple’s main campus. But that’s exactly what she did.
“I basically live there,” BriaMarie says of the state-of-the-art recording studio in the basement of her producer, Carvin Haggins. She literally has a room upstairs where she stays during the week.
Studying Media Studies and Production with a concentration on Media Business and a Music minor, BriaMarie has class Tuesday through Thursday, after which she rushes back to the in-home studio to work. If you think a rigorous schedule like this has affected the young artist academically, you’re wrong. Graduating in May, BriaMarie currently has a 3.85 GPA.
“Honestly all of that is by the grace of God,” BriaMarie says of her achievement.
BriaMarie belongs to the Ethical Music Entertainment label, which is the brainchild of legendary Philadelphia songwriting and production duo Carvin and Ivan. After hearing his name thrown around at music events, BriaMarie essentially stalked her now mentor, sent him her music video, and eventually received a response from him on Facebook. The rest is history.
“The day we met,” says Haggins, “I was like, ‘Okay, yeah. You’re gonna be my protégé.’”
Haggins is a Grammy-winning songwriter who has written songs for Mary J. Blige and Raheem Devaughn and is responsible for Musiq SoulChild hits like “Halfcrazy” and “Teachme” among others.
As the name suggests, Ethical Music isn’t your typical production company. Centered on Godly morals, the team is focused on making good music for the entire family.
“It’s the alternative to the ratchet music that we hear,” says BriaMarie, “It’s not corny. You can play it for your grandparents, for your little sister.” She’s the first artist on the label and says that when she met Haggins, everything began to come together.
“The very first song I can remember me writing was a response to that song “You’re A Jerk,” BriaMarie says. That’s just how she is. She’s always written in response to things by which she was put off. “Jerk,” for instance, disgusted her, so she wrote a response and sang it for some of her family members. Her first music video, “Who You Wit,” was shot on Temple’s campus in Barton Hall and was a remix of the Jay Z track. BriaMarie’s lyrics call out the all-too-familiar fake friend scenario.
“I was always talking about something,” she says, “but then once I got to Ethical Music it made so much sense.”
Haggins, now a reverend, influenced BriaMarie to go back to church. She has accepted Christ and been baptized. This outlook, she says, is the complete basis of everything she does.
A proud and self-proclaimed nerd, BriaMarie grew up between Columbia, Md. and Hanover, Md. She was surrounded by music from a young age. Her dad is a drummer in a Motown cover band and she first sang with him at age 9. When she was about fourteen, BriaMarie began singing with her dad’s band regularly.
“I’ll still go sing background for him. It’s the family thing. I’ll probably do that forever because it’s my dad and I learned from the people in his band,” she says.
Her learning didn’t stop there. Haggins says it’s just part of her personality.
“That’s her. She’s going to do it until she gets it right. She’s going to learn,” he explains. The singer is even learning music engineering and producing from her team. As the protégé of such a notable artist, BriaMarie is humbled and whole-heartedly invested in gaining as much as she can.
“If we have an artist [in the studio] I’m sitting in the room,” BriaMarie says,“I don’t care how big I get, how big they are. I’m sitting in the room to learn from them.”
So far all of her hard work has been paying off. She has an upcoming tour featuring soul artist Raheem Devaughn and other acts the singer can’t disclose right now. She’s had a video featured on MTV.com, and co-starred in a Christmas special with the likes of David Mann (from Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns”), Tamela Mann and Kim Fields. She’s also met every little black girl’s favorite TV mom, Tischa Campbell.
With God, discipline and her beamteam, there’s no stopping this Fresh Princess.