From the moment we heard sweet neo-soul vibes in new Netflix movie Dude our ears perked up and our attention gravitated towards married musicians Marcus “Nyne” Webster and Cortney “Queen” Knight, who make up the D.C. band, BlaqueStone.
The two, who tied the knot in June, talked to ESSENCE about the success of mixing business with pleasure, believing in their craft, and the lessons they’ve learned about love along the way.
How did you meet and what was the journey of becoming Blackstone together?
Marcus Webster: Cortney and I met when I was 13 years old. And we met really through I traveled so much with her stepbrother. We built a bond, built a relationship, but it wasn’t like I had a crush on her or anything like that. We just kind of meeting each other and building a relationship from there, and she went off to college and came back, and we reconnected [when I was] 19, and she was 20. We started talking and hanging out and then dating from there. Two years into our relationship, maybe a year into our relationship, we started playing music together.
Cortney Knight: Marcus is so discreet and so smooth, and I’m like way into the details. There are so many details about how we met. We both went to middle school together, and we both lived across the street from our high school together. So, we always were walking back and forth to high school together. I was the nerd or the girl who had to be home right when the school bell rang, and he would always walk me home. I couldn’t understand Marcus, because I thought he was a little annoying brother’s friend. I’d never looked at him like that, and likewise. Then, like he said, I went off to college, and when I came back one day I was on the train coming back from work. I used to work at the Smithsonian, and Marcus used to work at Bethesda. And Marcus used to play this game where he would hop from cart to cart, and he just happened to hop on the cart that I was on, and then we both looked at each other and was like, “Ah man. I haven’t seen you in so long.”
Did it seem like a natural fit to do music together? Who introduced the idea of, “Hey we should probably try this.” And then what has it been like working together?
MW: Actually doing music together really came out of nowhere. As long as I’ve known Cortney, I’ve never known her to do music at all. Never known her to sing, play any instruments, rap or anything. She knew I did music. I’ve been doing music since I was younger. I was like nine years old. So, when she met, me I was playing the piano and singing and doing things of that nature. When we started hanging out more, she expressed, “Hey I like to sing. I like to do music.” I thought that would bring her along. My friend wrote the music with another gentleman and we were kind of working as a duo, me and the other guy. And then Cortney would always come around, and she expressed her interest, and desire to do music. So, one day we were at my house, she went into my basement where all my music equipment was and sat there and I just started playing something and she started singing. And then she started writing, and she essentially wrote her first song in my basement. I was just stunned and thought, “Okay. You really are good. You really are dope.” And from then on, because I was working with somebody else, we started a trio at first. Then maybe a year after that, the producer or the other gentleman, he decided he wanted to go in a different direction. So, when that happened, when the trio kind of split, when he left off to do his own thing, we kind of looked at each other and was all, “Hey, we both still wanna do music. Know we just have to recreate this thing in our image.” And that’s how BlaqueStone peaked and started forming from that moment. And that was the end of 2016.
What has working together taught you about mixing business with pleasure? How has that experience either helped or hurt your relationship in any way?
CK: I think it has helped our relationship and it hasn’t harmed anything. I’ve learned so much about myself, and about what teamwork means, and even also added to what the definition of love means. It just shows you that you have to work stuff out so that you can get to business. You don’t wanna go into business and two people are mad each other or frustrated at each other. Music essentially always heals us or brings us back together. Marcus and I may get into something in our relationship but music is that one thing that we can listen to or even perform or do, and we kind of look and each other and, “Okay, we can fix our mess, and move forward with music.” It makes you heal super fast. I appreciate that, and I would have never thought that. And it’s cool, also, because that means you get to go home with your best friend, and your business partner, and your lover all at the same time. So, that great day that you had where usually your significant other can’t see it. You’re in the studio or you have a great time with your band member, or you just came up with great melodies or inspiring lyrics, and things like that. That means he was in the room, and you guys can actually sit down and talk about it and have more dialog and more things to express and more ideas to come up with. I always used to see that people will say never mix business with love or things like that, but I wouldn’t say that.
MW: I believe business is personal. I believe if you’re gonna entrust your vision and your ideas and all these things that you hold valuable to someone, why not have your companion or someone that you truly love and someone that truly loves you, and will hold you accountable and you can hold them accountable. It hasn’t hurt our relationship at all. It’s only elevated our love for each other. It’s only enhanced the dialog, and when we do have those arguments, when we do have those rough patches, we deal with these things. We can’t go on stage mad at each other. We can’t go into a practice mad at each other, and you don’t wanna go to bed mad at each other either. So, it heals. It puts us in a place of healing.
How did you all get your song, “11:59,” featured in the Netflix movie Dude?
CK: As of right now, we don’t have management. All the success that BlaqueStone has is because of Marcus and me, and our team. So, we definitely have to shout out in whatever we put out because we wouldn’t be us without them. The Netflix thing happened because I’m one of those people that I’m always looking for ways to pitch BlaqueStone and who we are because I believe in our message. And what we have is very authentic. So, I’m always on LinkedIn, and I’m always trying to connect with people and reach out and build relationships. I wasn’t really getting hope, or anybody responding back, and then finally I reached out to somebody who worked at Sony, maybe a year prior to us even getting the deal, just to introduce myself and Blackstone and she really loved our music, and that she would keep us in mind. I thought I would never hear from her again. And maybe six to eight months later, she said that she remembered that it was the song she liked from us, and she thinks she has a project that she wants us to be on. Then that’s how it happened.
You can stream Dude on Netflix now to hear BlaqueStone’s song, “11:59” and to listen to more of their music, click here.