One-on-One with Harpist/Singer/Songwriter Rashida “Tulani” Jolley
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Alexis A. Goring, Sentinel Lifestyle Reporter
The Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education (FAME) hosted an “Artist in the School” event at Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro on Thursday, March 27. Harpist/singer/songwriter Rashida Jolley who uses the stage name Tulani, was the featured artist. Jolley who is a Washington-area native, spoke with the students about her career and the importance of getting a good education.
The event was hosted in partnership with the high school’s Performing Arts Department and Prince George’s County Council Member Derrick Leon Davis (District 6) and had a turnout of about 180 students, some who were invited by Jolley to sing on stage and participate in a fun activity about following your dreams. After the students were dismissed to class, Jolley sat down with The Sentinel lifestyle reporter Alexis A. Goring to share her story of stardom and passion for helping young people.
Goring: I love how you engaged the kids with stories they can relate to before your performance. Was that your original idea?
Tulani: I come from a family of speakers. My father was a preacher. My uncle’s a national motivational speaker. My dad and Willy Jolley (national motivational speaker) were brothers…My father always told me people can relate to stories so you take what’s in your life or stories from other people’s lives to give the message through stories.
Goring: Speaking of stories, let’s start with yours. Where were you born? Do you have siblings?
Tulani: I was born in Washington, D.C. I have six siblings—I have two sets of twin brothers and two sisters—so it’s a big family.
Goring: What role did your parents play in making you into who you are today?
Tulani: My father, unfortunately he passed away but he sacrificed his own dreams and goals for us. Initially, it was his career and then his dream became his family. So he poured everything into us growing up and taught us music since I was very little. He would put us at the piano and be like, ‘Sing that note, sing that note over here! That wasn’t right! Do it again!’ He was my best friend, my mentor, my hero. And then my mother had this intuition, this instinct to know all of our purposes. The harp was my mom’s idea…I went to my first harp lesson and I instantly fell in love with it and then my mom said when I was playing classical music on the harp, “You sing and your singing is soulful and your harp is classical. Why don’t you bring them together?” READ FULL STORY