Olivia is not only a singer/songwriter but composer, producer, arranger and much more. What a lot of people don’t know is that while most little girls were playing with dolls Olivia was using her play time to write music and poetry instead. She realized very early on that she truly had a passion for the arts. This Jamaican born beauty was a very good student who started writing poetry at the tender age of 10. Her first work was published in the book ‘Shadows and Light” and was then inducted into the National Library of Congress just four years later. Even though she loved poetry her passion was to pursue music.
Olivia always knew she wanted to be a vocalist and singing at her parents’ church on Sunday’s made her appreciate the beauty of being able to sing. Her family decided to allow her to explore her musical abilities by taking guitar, piano and vocal training lessons. After a very short period of time they realized she was a natural! Olivia was ready to pursue her dream of becoming a recording artist and a songwriter. Even though Olivia’s vocal ability was almost impossible to ignore her parents believed that a quality education came first.
In 2000, she became the first artist signed to Clive Davis J Records. Her self-titled debut album Olivia was released in 2001 and featured the singles “Bizounce” which made #15 on the charts and “Are U Capable”. The album debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200. In 2004, Olivia re-emerged as the first woman signed to G-Unit Records. She contributed vocals to the group’s debut album Beg for Mercy and to 50 Cent’s The Massacre, including the album’s number-one single “Candy Shop”.
UrbanBridgez.com spoke to Olivia about those days to get her take on her career when she first debuted!
UrbanBridgez.com: Your first album is a such a classic to me. I still play it often. ‘Bizzounce’ and ‘It’s On Again’ are classics!
Olivia: I love that! Alot of people still say that to me, ‘Bizzounce’ is actually one of Busta’s (Rhymes) favorite records too, he cracks me up everytime he says that. So I’m so happy that people love it, I’m happy that I get to do another album. Some people don’t get a first or second chance and I’m getting a third. I just don’t think it was done right the first two times. The first time when I was on J Records I was actually still in college and just turned 18 years old. So I was just learning about everything then moving over to Interscope and meeting 50 (Cent), that was a whole other experience I had to deal with. All the politics and being amongst rappers you know (laughs). So now I just feel like everything is right and I’m coming into my own. This album is just amazing, I didn’t want to give you guys any material that I used on ‘Behind Closed Doors’ I felt like it wouldn’t be fair to you or me. I just did everything over and I’m really happy about the whole project.
UrbanBridgez.com: I think you were ahead of your time. You was the first to sign with J Records, alot of people don’t know that.
Olivia: Yes I was, Clive Davis (laughs)!
UrbanBridgez.com: What was the best advice Clive Davis ever gave you?
Olivia: Wow, Clive gave me so many different things and the one I remember the most & is dear to me is him introducing me to Luther Vandross. He was such a great friend and mentor to me, he taught me so many things about the business as far as the politics. Luther always told me that he saw my longevity and he always told me to push forward, no matter what! He’s like my angel to me. I’ve had so many memories with Luther and definitely contribute that relationship to Clive.
UrbanBridgez.com: What were the best and worse things about being signed to G-Unit?
Olivia: The best would have to be, I had a different fan base I wasn’t use to. They opened me up to as far as the whole rap audience. And the worst would have to be being misunderstood. Because I was with them (laughs). So yeah, it was like a two-way sword you know. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Because there was a lot of good and there was a lot of bad. But I think the good did out way the bad, it was definitely a good stepping stone for me and I don’t regret anything! Being with them over there and we had a great run. I was with them for four years, me and 50 made a lot of great hits (i.e. “Candyshop,” “Best Friend,” etc) we had a good time but I just told them I didn’t feel right. I felt like I was apart of the group and not a solo artist. I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle and people to think that I was just there to sing hooks. That is what I was not (laughs). So I’m really happy to be by myself again and loving the feeling of being a solo artist like I was before. So I think everything came back around 360. I feel like I had to go through those things in order to be where I’m at now. Like I said before, I really don’t regret anything at all!
UrbanBridgez.com: Biggest lesson learned thus far in this industry?
Olivia: Just really who to trust in this industry. You don’t know who as far as the label and reps and things like that. But that’s why I keep the people who I’ve known since I was a kid around me til this day. I’m very loyal to the people who are loyal to me and the ones who’ve always been there for me. As far as the ones I’ve grown up with or family members, just people who have always been there from day one. This industry can tear people apart as for relationships, so that definitely would be it.