Freshly back from travels to France and the Caribbean, Colorado’s Markeisha Ensley recently released her new EP, Talk to Me. Markeisha’s smooth vocals define her sound and offer us a window into her world. Talk to Me is a follow-up to her 2006 debut full-length Ready, off which singles The Strangest Thing and Loving You received an Honorable Mention in the Billboard World Songwriting Contest. Her debut record gave her the opportunity to tour the country. Currently living in New York City, Markeisha gives us a little background on her song Maybe, an R&B number with a jazz touch.
Maybe tells a story in which both delivery and content play a part to convey the feeling. “I wanted to write a song that was in the genre of the great jazz standards,” says Ensley. “Something that had a catchy, timeless feel to the melody.”
She explains that dealing with feelings for a love interest served as the song’s central theme. “The inspiration came from a time when I had a crush on a friend and wanted to tell him how about how I really I felt. I sort of took that idea and ran with it! Well, I think we’ve all been there before when we wanted to express love to someone and weren’t sure if we were going to hear it back! So, the song is about that moment right before you say those words to someone.”
In Maybe’s case, the flash of inspiration came at a very specific moment in Queens. “I was standing on a subway platform,” she recalls. “I had been hanging out with a friend that I had a crush on and he told me he had started dating someone else. So, I took those feelings of unrequited love and went home and started writing a song about it.”
That day on the Queens subway platform, Ensley was so distraught that she contacted a friend to discuss the situation. “I remember calling a friend to talk about how I was upset over this guy dating someone else. Then when I hung up, I started to get this idea of song about maybe I should tell him how I feel and maybe he’ll say the same thing back to me.”
“When the creative juices start flowing,” she adds. “It’s always a bit thrilling and you go on a high.” And the song simply called for something extra to give it the desired special swooping feeling. “I had a group called CNP Horns play on the recording and the horn arrangements were written by my producer, David Amber. The horns added so much to the intensity of the song and I’ve always wanted to record a big lush ballad like this, something that Marvin Gaye or Gladys Knight would have sung.”
Ensley recalls that arranging the backing vocals proved to be an enriching experience that contributed in adding the final touches to Maybe. “I love Motown,” she tells me. “So when I was doing the arrangements, I tried to envision what they would have been like if the song was recorded in the 60’s. This song makes me think of a smoky jazz club back in the day and I’m wearing a really classy dress with a flower in my hair! All of the band members have suits on and the audience is enjoying a fine wine!”
What is your favorite part of the song?
My favorite part of the song is near the end, after the bridge. I really love how it modulates and the key changes because, in the arrangement, I can really feel the intensity of the song and the emotion of it. It’s kind of like the moment is now and you have to say the words to this person now and I like the way you can hear it happening musically.
What are you feeling when you perform this song?
This is one of my favorite songs to sing! I love getting a chance to sing a song where I can really saaang! Also, it’s fun to play with the emotional build of the song, lots of stuff to play around with and vocal improv on.
Were there any major changes to during the creation process that altered the final product?
There weren’t any major changes, but it’s really fun to hear the original version of the song that I recorded on my iPod when I was first writing it compared to the final recorded version. My demo recording was just myself on piano, singing the basic melody. But after adding musicians who bring their own creativity to it and getting to sit with the song and perform it a lot, it’s grown to be this big, sweeping ballad that I’m really proud of!
Markeisha Ensley’s EP was produced by David Amber for AmberSongs Productions at Flux Studios in NYC (Babyface, Jennifer Lopez), while most of the background vocals were recorded at her home studio.
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