In a few months, Mali Music will return to the ESSENCE Fest stage to uplift our audience with his inspirational sound. We are just as excited as his legions of fans to have him back on our Superlounge stage. If you’ve never seen him live, you are in for an unforgettable experience of raw energy, emotion and passion for all things good.
The 27-year-old singer, born Kortney Jamaal Pollard, got his start in the church. Before he became a highly sought after mainstream artist, he was his congregations’ music minister (and still helps out when his schedule permits). Now he’s still ministering with music, which he often refers to as “his weapon of choice,” but only on a much larger scale. And with his immense success, his hard work is paying off.
After his latest album Mali Is… debuted at the no. 2 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart last year, he’s been able to inspire more people than he ever imagined. Before you get your own dose of Mali at ESSENCE Fest 2015, we wanted to tell you a bit more about why we just can’t get enough him.
1. Mali wrote his hit song Beautiful as an ode to his adoring fans. In a recent interview with Queen Latifah, he went into detail about the message he wanted his supporters to take away from his most successful single yet—“Despite what statistics say… I’m going to say it as God sees it and He made you beautiful.”
2. The Savannah, Georgia raised musical star wrote his first full song when he was only 8-years-old. At that time, the budding musician was learning to play the guitar and had begun to master the piano after three years of playing at his church. Since then, he’s written hundreds of heart-warming songs—one of which (Beautiful) landed him a Grammy nod in the same category as Pharrell, Chris Brown, Jhené Aiko and Beyoncé.
3. Mali is inspired by quite literally everything he sees—even insects crawling on the street. One day, he noticed a group of ants carrying a caterpillar that was 50 times their size. He immediately felt moved by their strength and resilience, and even felt the need to write about what he had seen. To him, all things have a life and life itself is the most beautiful teaching tool in the universe.
4. Sam Cooke, the first well-known artist to make a controversial transition from gospel to R&B, is one of Mali’s biggest inspirations. He also credits Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and more for shaping his sound, which he describes as “new vintage.” During the Mali Is… creation process, he realized the music industry had more than enough “turn up” music and not enough music with substance. In an effort to ensure music lovers did not have to dig in their crates to find quality songs, he created a sound that brought the same level of substance, while adding a whole new modern feel.
5. When he decided to switch over to mainstream, he was met with backlash from his Christian following, but he wholeheartedly believes it was something God called him to do. In his latest biography, he says, “I’ve got something I need to share,” he asserts. “There’s a deeper message. It’s the heart of everything I do, and I want to get that to everyone possible. That’s the ultimate goal.”
To Make sure you don’t miss Mali Music or any of the great performers set to hit the stage at ESSENCE Fest 2015, purchase your weekend passes today! We can’t wait to see you.