Allow me to introduce Phorbe's 1st Ever Queen of the Month: Amel Murray!
This uber talented Queen has an infectious personality and a drive like no other. At just sixteen years old, Amel is already a force to be reckoned with. She knows exactly what she wants out of life and is unafraid to reach for it, no matter what difficulties life may throw her way.
I had the honor of sitting down with this young Queen to pick her brain and am excited to share with you all Amel's story. We met at Blaze Pizza for a Build Your Own in the late spring sun. Amel was all smiles as we spoke about all things relevant in entertainment news that day: Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Jay Z. We get overly excited and anxious as we always do whenever we are together. Our laughter and echoes of black girl magic filled the patio space in front of the pizza chain. Amel is very opinionated and well-spoken on what is going on around us today. It is one of the reasons why I immediately thought of her when kicking off the Phorbe Queen of the Month segment.
BOLD is her middle name
Amel's purpose in life, she says, is to heal people through music. Amel is a singer/songwriter who is unafraid to take creative risks. Her raspy alto voice is reminiscent of TLC's TBoz, her musical style, similar to H.E.R or SZA.
To give people the words to express how they are feeling when they are going through difficult times is her goal. She is already well on her way. Her first song, 100% is a bop that has a jump-off feel. This song empowers people to love themselves enough to leave one sided relationships. Both the song and visuals will be released on YouTube by the end of the year.
It wasn't an easy feat to complete the song. Amel had to travel almost an hour (both ways) to make it to each voice lesson and recording session to get the song done. It took about a month to complete. On top of an already rigorous school schedule this would be a lot for some people. I was actually Amel's personal driver during this time and I can tell you that for her, it was a necessary and welcome challenge that she handle with class and a positive attitude.
At sixteen years old, most young women are still figuring out what they want at the moment, let alone in their life. I had to ask Amel, what gave her the audacity to go after her goals so fiercely. She looked at me in the eye and replied that she had no choice, it was embedded in her DNA. Both her parents are strong willed people who knew what they wanted at a very young age and didn't stop until they had it, and even now in their success, they are still grinding and reaching for new goals. Her father, Charles, is a film maker and her mother, Niki, is an educator and author. They both instilled in Amel the power to form her own self-identity and realize her purpose.
Music is not her only goal. She is a strong advocate for dark brown girls. At the moment, she is working on what she calls, her passion project, where she is interviewing strong willed dark skinned African American girls on their journeys through life with dark skin. This collection of stories is being cut together into a mini documentary for a school project. Her goals for this project are to show the world that there is a clear divide and the issue of colorism is indeed real, while also showing all the young brown girls out there that they are not alone. She states, "It took a long time for me to accept that my brown skin is beautiful. If I can help other girls get to that point quicker, I would have reached my goal."
She Recognizes her Blessings
Amel sees how hard her parents worked to get where they are today. Their success has afforded her the freedom of being able to explore music and take lessons. She is forever grateful for the opportunities her parents have provided her with and works hard to make sure that no opportunity goes to waste.
She trains with Voice and Sound and RYTMO (Reaching Youth Through Music Opportunities) at Love and Laughter Studios in Anaheim, CA. She takes voice lessons where she has learned to perform songs such as Love by Nat King Cole and Makin Whoopee by Ella Fitzgerald. She is in the fourth and final level of RYTMO, a nonprofit that aims to educate, equip, and empower youth through music and music technology. Throughout all four levels she has shone passion and drive for both the program and her music. Going above and beyond to complete her assignments and learn as much as she can. As her final project for the program, she is recording another song entitled Never Fit; a song that discusses the issues surrounding an unhealthy relationship.
For all of her hard work, Amel was offered the opportunity to audition for Berklee College of Music’s 5 Week Summer Camp in Boston, Ma. In partnership with Berklee, RYTMO has the opportunity to send a select few students every year to the camp, tuition free, provided they work hard and pass the audition process. Amel passed with flying colors and will be on her way to Massachusetts at the top of July.
Her Beauty is Humble Yet Bright
Amel admits she struggles with self-love, acceptance, and esteem issues. What young girl doesn't? Many of these issues surround the features of herself that are rooted in her African American heritage; i.e her nose, her skin tone. However she is growing to love and accept herself for the beautiful queen she is every day and she says her mother is a strong influencing factor.
Her mother never lets her forget how beautiful she is and that she is a one of a kind gem. Amel is also heavily influenced by her favorite entertainers Beyonce, Todrick Hall, and Harry Styles who all promote self-love and acceptance. Like so many of us chocolate skinned Queens, her mother included, she is starting to realize that her chocolate skin is breathtaking, magical, and most importantly, enough. "I guess you can say, I took my mom's love for me and turned it into self-love," she proclaims.
I think she slays on a regular basis and applaud her for being brave enough to cut all of her hair off and start over after realizing her hair was heat damaged. She says she wanted to feel closer to her identity as a black woman and find herself as a person and I think she couldn't be more stunning. When I asked her what her favorite features are about herself, it didn't take long for her to respond with her legs, her lips, and her personality.
Let me tell you, there is no one else like this Queen when it comes to making a room stop, stare, and ooze sunshine and happiness whenever she enters. Her smile is so bright she can blind a man into seeing again. Her attitude is so infectious that she brings happiness to whomever she's around. Her outlook on life is a breath of fresh air. She is loyal, inventive, and ferociously kind.
There's still work to be done
Amel doesn't need to be famous. She doesn't need Grammys to prove what she already knows. When I asked her what the best version of herself looked like she replied that she would be perfectly content making music just for herself while working a criminal investigative job ( another one of her passions and goals in life). She will always share her music with the world, but if only a few people listened to her and felt moved by her melodies and lyrics, that would be enough for her.
Speaking out for those whose voices are muted would be the one thing she requires of her future self. Turning words into action and providing opportunities and a better quality of life for women of color is a goal that she will constantly strive to obtain.
Amel did not come to play games. She is extremely talented, knowledgeable, and woke. Her flaws will not define her, no challenges will ever defeat her, and when she roars, everybody will listen. She is bold, blessed, beautiful inside and out, and the best at being unequivocally Amel. She is Phorbe. Phorbe's Queen of the Month!
If you'd like to hear more from Amel, stay tuned all month as Amel is given access to all Phorbe social media accounts for daily take overs. We'll also hear from those who know Amel best in her rise to success.
To watch Amel bless the stage, you can see her at RYTMO's 9th Annual Jazz Generations Benefit Concert this Sunday June 10th at the Anaheim Packing House. Visit RYTMO's website to for more information and to purchase tickets.
Do you know a strong person who is defying gravity and moving barriers to reach their goals and dreams? Nominate them now for Phorbe Queen of the month. Just follow PhorbeOfficial on Instagram, subscribe to the Phorbe website, and email Queen Maree at firstname.lastname@example.org with your nomination. Please include a photo of the nominee along with the best way to contact the nominee.
Follow Amel on Instagram @mr.murrayjr!
It's a beautiful day to conquer the world, so go forth and slay!
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON JUNE 6, 2018