Today we’d like to introduce you to Mahoganee Amiger.
Hi Mahoganee, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
This is a big ask and one that I would not know where to start if it were asked 5 or 10 years ago but I am finally at a place where I have lived enough life to give an authentic and fulfilled answer.
I believe my journey got a blessed start when my Mommy “Dorothy” made a decision to get baptized with me in her belly. As I look at the significance of what that means; it’s synonymous with a new life, faith, rebirth, an indelible spiritual mark. She gave me something special that I believe has guided and covered me in ways that I can never understand but also ways that help me understand things about myself. Only now am I able to actually feel what that even means.
I’ve always known that I wanted to sing and pursue music even as a child and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve always had a natural ability to sing, feel deeply within the music, get lost in it and still relay a special sentiment to the audience and to me that is a spiritual thing that came with the gift my mother gifted me with but that GOD bestowed in me. I also understand that with this gift comes responsibility and in a space where I work purposefully with the intention to honor GOD, my Parents and my Culture within my artistry.
My Daddy “Robert Leon”, was with me only for a short time, I watched the life drain from his body with 6 year old eyes, I stood at the edge of the bed we used to watch old Godzilla movies and karate flicks in together and watched the paramedics try to revive him. Now it plays in my mind like a short film. He made such an important impression on my life in that short time. I have bits and pieces of memories that I tap into when I need to feel his presence. I know that a lot of my creativity comes from him. As I get older I think more about my parents and find ways to be purposeful with them in the storytelling of my songwriting.
I started singing in elementary school and doing school plays. I would sing for my friends in the classroom. I was shy and remember putting on dark shades, so that my eyes were hidden (I was copying Stevie Wonder) I was afraid but not enough to not do it. I would sing on the school bus ride home. I remember rewriting our class song. I began writing poetry as a teenager which made the transition to songwriting seamless. My first songs were lengthy and technical but I grew into understanding that a feeling had to be resonated from the lyrics, structure and it had to marry the music perfectly.
My music career began professionally in 1991 on Capt. Sam Boat in Savannah, GA performing with live bands, doing festivals, clubs and weddings, then Atlanta to DC, Baltimore and Philly. Then I came back home to South Carolina aka Souf Cakky Lakky.
Coming back home has been another rebirth in my Journey. There’s a phrase by my friend, Gullah Geechee Afrofuturust Sara Makeba Daise “The South is a Portal” that has continuously rang true since I’ve come back home. I’ve been tapping into my Geechee history, myself, the Gullah culture and it has truly enhanced my creativity.
In 2001 I met my husband André, music producer and the peanut butter to my jelly. We collaborated on our first song shortly after we met and since then together we’ve produced and self-published 3 albums that reached the top 10 of the Indie Charts. Our latest project and senior album has just been released in October of 2021 “Textures of a Southern Soul” and everything we’ve learned through the process of artist development and self development we put into this album. It has taken 3 albums to get to the 1st album that has the sound, movement, sentiment, energy, lyrics and vocal freedom that I needed to become the artist I am today. I am profoundly grateful for the journey.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
That’s a hard and heavy NO because no road is smooth. The heaviest hits to my soul as an adult was losing my Mama (Dorothy) and my sister (Rosalyn). The effects of losing my father comes in what if moments, I think because I had less time with him so I’m always wondering what if he was around for this or what would he have said about that. I spent so much time with my Mama and my sister that for a very long time after they had passed I would call both their numbers to hear their voices on the voicemail. I needed to hear them so badly, it was such a painful struggle to no longer have them here physically.
What helped me through it: I’ve always had music to rely on. I would cry alone and quite frequently, quietly inside but my outlet was in my music, writing and singing even if it was only to myself.
The most important thing I’ve always had is a personal relationship with God. I never had a lot of friends so I often had conversations with God and have always felt guided in some way. Having such a personal relationship with God has allowed me a spiritual grounding that compares to nothing. 2020 caused a huge crack in the world and mentally there were times that it could have been debilitating but that spiritual grounding from my childhood helped me to find peace and simply quiet my mind to focus.
I’ve had other struggles in different settings and although the struggle took root in my spirit I worked extremely hard to make the outward appearance the opposite. I always kept a smile to mask my inner conflicts. I’m a dark-skinned black woman with 4-C hair, I remember struggling with my appearance in middle school which continued into my adult life. I struggled with my reflection in the mirror, so I continued getting the perm put in my hair that my mother started at an early age until I was 41. I didn’t understand or even recognize the disconnect with self until I moved back home to South Carolina. Here’s what I tell myself now and the younger version inside of me: I’m so proud of YOU for taking your life in your hands and having the courage to live your dreams out loud. Following your heart is no easy task, we are special individuals, we’re alchemists. We make the things in our minds and hearts into special and important pieces of history to live on after we are gone.
We’d love to learn more about your work. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others? I’m an Artist. A Curator of Creativity. A musician who’s instrument is Voice. I sing, write and perform songs that season our cultural experiences on food-, land, history, portals and ancestral mathematics.
I Write Songs that Feed the Mind, Body & Soul. I get to pen from my mind about what’s important to me, what I feel and I get to bring words to life and give an experience through them. I touch people with my voice, with music. I get to live a purpose filled life and music is my vehicle.
I am most proud that I get to do all of the above, I get to live life as a Creative.
I’m proud that through my (art)istry I get to use my voice and give wings to my words.
I’m blessed that I get to do all of this with my best “fraand”, my partner, my mate, my co-founder, my husband André. Through our love for music and education we founded a non-profit, Responsible ARTistry, Inc, where we as Teaching Artists for the last 16 years through Arts Integration hosts workshops, classes, summer camps, day camps, community outreach and artist residencies.
‘My creative offerings are grown in the garden of art, advocacy and authenticity.
I’m a Certified Teaching Artist and also a Creative Leader for Beaufort County with the Art of Community – Rural SC which advances the South Carolina Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through arts, culture and creative placemaking.
As a member of the Recording Academy, 2020 gave me the opportunity to be a Grammy U Mentor and a voice for the music makers helping to shape the discussion on policies impacting our music community. Mentally I was struggling because I was so used to movement in my life in what I thought was the only way and volunteering gave me an outlet to move in a different way.
We sparked a movement to recognize all creators who work tirelessly behind the record and share credits across social media. More than 3,000 of us creators participated in Behind the Record, a global initiative that brings the names of the people who work behind the record to the front.
As a Recording Academy District Advocate, through our music ecosystem we had a “Summer of Advocacy” where we met with 250 Congressional Offices to make a difference and advancements in key priorities that benefit our music community with needs to be included in the next COVID-19 relief package. It felt extremely satisfying to speak and work on behalf of the unemployed musician, the shuttered venue, the closed minority-owned small business.
In the words of Zora Neale Hurston, “Black Women from the South got something to say”. I’m honored to be able to use my platform through my music and have something of value to say. Making positive and inspirational music that speaks to the soul of a human is an integral part of my purpose. Understanding that when you have the power to use your voice and you can speak to the humanity in a person, which allows them to open up and feel something good, knowing that comes from your art is worthy and powers me to keep going.
How do you define success?
Dictionary defines suc·cess /səkˈses/ as:
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
the correct or desired result of an attempt
someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds
Success to me is all of the above. Success is the opportunity to live life as a creative person. Success is seeing the smile on a young scholar’s face when they’re in an environment that makes them comfortable to just be themselves. They are blooming and becoming confident. They see value in themselves which in turn allows them to see value in others. Success is finding your purpose and walking in it, even if you’re afraid. Success is believing in yourself enough to take a chance on YOU. Success is not giving up under any circumstance. Success is looking in the mirror and learning to love the reflection with all of the flaws. Success is finding the courage to begin to tell your story.
Success is writing down the idea and title of what I want my next album to be in 2015 and expecting to have it done in a year but then life happens and the music stops because my husband suffers his 3rd stroke, is hospitalized and told he’ll be using a walker for the rest of his life. I take a break from being at my husband’s bedside at Beaufort Memorial and walk down to the water & SING OUT LOUD TO RELEASE THE PAIN and frustration, music has returned and is my saving grace. He comes home, suffers the worst case of depression he’s ever had and MUSIC brings him out of it. He’s no longer using the walker. In 2020, we go back to the water for self-care moments, a portal opens and the music I’ve been wanting comes through, the lyrics are pouring out of me. In 2021, we have finished writing, recording, mixing and mastering this album. I design the cover art. Even though the world is 90% digital, the true moment of Success is holding a hard copy, a fully professionally packaged CD in my hand. It was proof, a tangible piece of all the hard work and the magic, the alchemy we had experienced and the magic was that it was once just an iDea. Success is in the Details, the small ones. Success is the Journey, and the Destination.
Success is writing down the idea and title of what I want my next album to be in 2015 and expecting to have it done in a year but then life happens and the music stops because my husband suffers his 3rd stroke, is hospitalized and told he’ll be using a walker for the rest of his life. I take a break from being at my husband’s bedside at Beaufort Memorial and walk down to the water & SING OUT LOUD TO RELEASE THE PAIN and frustration, music has returned and is my saving grace. He comes home, suffers the worst case of depression he’s ever had and MUSIC brings him out of it. He’s no longer using the walker. In 2020, we go back to the water for self-care moments, a portal opens and the music I’ve been wanting comes through, the lyrics are pouring out of me. In 2021, we have finished writing, recording, mixing and mastering this album. I design the cover art. Even though the world is 90% digital, the true moment of Success is holding a hard copy, a fully professionally packaged CD in my hand. It was proof, a tangible piece of all the hard work and the magic, the alchemy we had experienced and the magic was that it was once just an iDea. Success is in Details, the small ones. Success is the Journey.
- Website: www.mahoganee.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/mahoganeeamiger
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mahoganeeamiger
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/mahoganee
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/Mahoganee
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