The Network Journal will honor the Grammy Award winning Maya Azucena, at the annual “40 Under Forty” Achievement Awards Dinner today. She’s been selected for her outstanding achievement in the corporate and underserved communities around the world. Maya Azucena has been a musical force to reckoned with – from her 2nd show when she opened for the incredible Gladys Knight, to her debut CD “Maya Who?!” in 2003, where she sold the CD at her shows, website www.MayaAzucena.com and record label Purpose Records. Recently, she signed with the world-renowned global brand management company, Blue Note. Here, Ms. Azucena reflects on auditioning, the arts and achievement.
Harlem World: Who has inspired you in your community and music industry work?
Maya Azucena: To be honest, the inspiration began early, when I was a teenager. I have been singing since I was 4 years old, and by Age 12 was auditioning for television and film. The reason I explain this is that, in my eyes, I was “professional” by the time I came to High School. In High School I joined City Kids, a youth empowerment non profit organization, where I became a peer leader. In those times, I began to see the power of utilizing the Arts to promote humanitarian outreach and to express causes. There are countless inspiring people in the world that I’ve had the privilege to sit with, but looking back, City Kids Organization is where the notion that I have a voice that counts in the real world, formed. We got involved with everything from Board of Ed policy, to politics, and non-violent resolution among teens, to environmental awareness campaigning. I’ve been self-motivated ever since.
HW: What has been the key to your success?
MA: Success is relevant. One very important “key” is patience, having realistic expectations, strong vision, and commitment to growth and improvement.
HW: Where do you think TNJ “40 Under Forty” award takes you next in your career?
MA: This remains to be seen. What impresses me about this Achievement is that I’m being acknowledged outside of the Music Industry. It means a lot to me, to be respected for my business acumen and the humanitarian work I’ve committed to through Music. I hope this award will increase my foundation as a global Artist and Humanitarian.
HW: When does your next release drop? Tell us more about it?
MA: My new CD, Cry Love, is in the works. It is slated for an early 2011 release. Before the end of this year I will release at least one advanced single with a music video. The title track has already been featured in two documentaries: “Lockdown USA,” an IFC Film, and “Not Yet Rain,” directed by Emmy-winner Lisa Russell. My next CD, Cry Love, is a powerful mix of live Soul, tinged with Rock, Hip-Hop and Jazz. It’s a Maya Azucena mix! It features my touring band, horn arrangements by Maurice Brown (John Legend, Aretha Franklin), and guests such as Vernon Reid (Living Colour) and Stephen Marley.
Like No Other, 2007
HW: What advice would you give young girls who want to walk in your pumps?
MA: I say, do not be afraid to be yourself. Many may not support your deepest dreams and visions at first, but you must believe it before anyone else. Success comes with committment, action and focus. Be the best ‘You’ you can be.
The Network Journal’s 13th Annual “40 Under Forty” Achievement Awards Dinner, at 6:30 p.m. is today, June 17, 2010, at the Times Square Crowne Plaza Hotel located at 1605 Broadway at 49th Street in New York City. This milestone event, “Reaching for Higher Goals,” will be hosted by Malik Yoba, acclaimed actor, author, musician, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur and Karen Nethersole, Esquire, CEO of Full Circle NY, career transition expert, and networking guru.
Note: Ms. Azucena joined Harlem Cares and Harlem World “Bridge to Mentoring” fundraiser at the National Black Theater with Susan Taylor, Malik Yoba, and others.