Floetry, the British-born duo of Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart touts a unique blend of vocals overlapped by the spoken word. Ranking among the more creative recording phenomena of the early 2000s, renditions by this pair define a musical art form that combines music and poetry melded into a hypnotic brand of neo-soul rhythms. Intrinsic to the popular appeal of Floetry is the ability of the two singer song writers to express commonplace emotions in fluid patterns that transcend hip-hop, pop, and soul. The two women have exhibited a natural talent for phrasework that consists of undulating vocals and soothing rhythm patterns. As composers and lyricists, their music has clear origins in both poetry and song, thus promoting a new art form embodied by their stage name of Floetry.
Born in London in the late 1970s, Marsha Ambrosius is the main songwriting member of Floetry. Self-described as "jiggy" and "funky," she is the product of a close-knit family. An avid basketball player in her youth, she was encouraged in the sport by her father, who was a volunteer amateur coach. With his encouragement, Ambrosius's basketball career extended through three sequential youth divisions and into the Junior and Women's Leagues.
Basketball notwithstanding, Ambrosius's father was a musician and a bass player by profession. Music was essential to the spirit of the household, and by the time she was 16, Ambrosius had formed a vocal group to compete in a local talent show. Ambrosius was very fond of Michael Jackson's music and tried to emulate his style. One of her earliest compositions, a song called "Butterflies" that she wrote as a teenager, was eventually recorded by Jackson as a track on his 2001 album Invincible.
As a direct complement to Ambrosius's buoyant sense of meter and rhyme, Floetry's other half has brought an unstructured emcee flair to the duo. Also born in the late 1970s, Stewart traces her ancestry to Jamaica. The daughter of a British soldier, she also experienced a close-knit family life. Her father kept his family in tow while on international assignments, and throughout these travels with her family—to Germany, Hong Kong, and elsewhere—Stewart displayed a creative bent and sense of independence. One of three siblings, she is five years younger than her sister and seven years younger than her brother. In part because of this disparity in age, she experienced extended periods of solitude as a child. By the age of eight she had written and published a book, which she sold to her schoolmates. Her solitude also had the effect of heightening her sensitivity to non-verbal communication, although she learned to speak an assortment of languages by watching Sesame Street international during her travels.
Stewart and Ambrosius came together for the first time as adolescent rivals on the basketball court. Avid players from opposing teams, they met in head-on competition at a summer tournament. Although each was a superstar in her own right, their personalities meshed and a friendship was formed.
By 1997 the adolescent basketball rivalry of the early 1990s had been replaced by a bond of mutual artistic purpose. The girlfriends had both attended Brits Performing Arts School, where Ambrosius took business classes along with voice, performance, and recording courses, while Stewart studied acting and directing. Stewart continued at Middlesex University and later transferred to North London University, where she organized a poetry group called 3 plus 1. She later left the group and invited Ambrosius to join her instead. Ambrosius accepted, having recently given up a basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech due to a knee injury. Appearing in London as Nat & Marsh, the two encountered surprisingly receptive audiences when they performed in tandem, with Ambrosius singing fluid interpretations of Stewart's spoken lyrics.
After building their act around a repertoire of original songs and their self-described art form called floetry, they traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2000, sent by their promoter, Perfect Songs. Recognition came quickly in the United States, where top-selling artists including Faith Evans and Brandy solicited songs from the pair. Ambrosius and Stewart wrote "Simple Things," "Lonely," "This Love" and "Take You High" for the 2002 Glenn Lewis album World Outside My Window, and composed the Jill Scott hit "Love Again." Floetry also contributed selected tracks to the soundtrack of Rush Hour 2.
For the Record …
Members include Marsha Ambrosius (born c. 1979, attended Brits Performing Arts School, Croyden, London), singer, composer; Natalie Stewart (born c. 1977, attended Brits Performing Arts School, Croyden; Middlesex University, and North London University), emcee, songwriter.
Earliest performances around London as Nat & Marsh, 1997; sent to Atlanta, GA, by promoter Perfect Songs, 2000; gained fame as composers of floetry styles for other artists; established as U.S.-based singers at Black Lily Fair in Pennsylvania, 2002; signed with Dream-Works Records, released debut album Floetic, containing hit single "Say Yes," 2002; toured with Slum Village and India.Arie, 2002-03; "Electric Circuit" tour with Common, international tour with India.Arie, and Hiphop Summit Action Network Tour with Russell Simmons, 2003.
Awards: Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards: Best Single by a Group for "Say Yes," Best R&B/Soul Album by a Group for Floetic, and Best R&B/Soul or Rap by a New Artist/Group, 2003.
Addresses: Record company—DreamWorks Records, 331 N. Maple Dr., Ste. 300, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, website: http://www.dreamworksrecords.com. Website—Floetry Official Website: http://www.floetry.net/.
As their popularity swelled, they embarked on a new course as performers, showcasing their talents as singers and song writers, and changing their performance name from Nat & Marsh to Floetry. Responding to a summons from a promoter in Philadelphia, the duo appeared at the multicultural Black Lily Fair in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2002. Booked originally as a two-day gig, Ambrosius and Stewart stayed for a week, held over by popular demand. During that trip Ambrosius and Stewart made contact with impresario J. Irving, the son of basketball star Julius "Dr. J" Irving. After Floetry returned to Atlanta that same July, the younger Irving settled in as manager of the group. Soon the due had established a working relationship with producer Jeffrey "Jazzy Jeff" Townes, who arranged for them to tape some songs at his Touch of Jazz studio.
The tapes from Townes's studio led to a contract with DreamWorks Records, and a debut album appeared in October. After developing their title track in the course of an evening's work, Ambrosius and Stewart returned to the studio, cutting eleven tracks in seven days. Called Floetic, the album was a joint venture produced by a bevy of prominent producers, including Andre "Dirty" Harris, Vidal Davis, and Ivan "Orthodox" Barias. The final product was highly improvisational and featured cameos by Lil' Kim, Will Smith, and other prominent hip-hop performers. Among the more popular tracks on the album, "Say Yes" rose to the top of the charts and propelled the duo to the forefront among the top new artists of 2002. By the end of the year Ambrosius and Stewart had cut 100 new songs, including a number of demos for other artists to record.
To promote their debut album, Floetry embarked on an extended tour, making coast-to-coast appearances with such acts as Slum Village and India.Arie, from November of 2002 through January of 2003. By the end of February the two performers were on the road once more, having joined the "Electric Circuit" tour with Common and traveling across the country once again. With their newfound stature enhanced by three Grammy award nominations, Floetry embarked on an international tour with India.Arie and signed with Russell Simmons for his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, all in 2003.
At the Soul Train "Lady of Soul" awards of 2003, Floetry received four nominations, emerging with an impressive trio of trophies when the winners were named. Their awards included Best Single by a Group for "Say Yes," Best R&B/Soul Album by a Group, and Best New R&B/Soul/Rap Artist. A follow-up Floetry album, Floacism "Live," appeared in stores before the year's end.
Floetic, DreamWorks, 2002.
"Wanna Be Where You Are" (with Mos Def), Lovesick, 2003.
"Say Yes," DreamWorks, 2003.
Floacism "Live," DreamWorks, 2003.
Billboard, May 25, 2002, p. 25; February 1, 2003, p. 29.
Entertainment Weekly, October 18, 2002, p. 112.
Jet, April 7, 2003, p. 38.
"Floetry: On The Scene," BMI, http://www.bmi.com/musicworld/onthescene/200308/floetry.asp (April 5, 2004).
More From encyclopedia.com
Jagged Edge , Vocal group Born out of the church choirs of Atlanta, Georgia, Jagged Edge has earned a reputation for lyrics that range from hard-edged topics like… Usher , Usher 1978(?)– R&B vocalist One of the many teenage vocalists who flourished in the 1990s, Usher had natural good looks and personal presence that se… Marquis De Sade , Singer, songwriter “Sade’s music… is so hot because it sounds so ^? cool,” declared critic Cathleen McGuigan in Newsweek. The Nigerian-born British s… Tweet , Singer, songwriter Tweet sang, played instruments, and wrote songs from the time she was a child, but six years of toiling for a recording contract l… Cece And Bebe Winans , In the music industry, the term “crossover” has both positive and negative connotations. To musical purists, it implies a watering-down of some music… Tommy Mottola , Tommy Mottola Record company executive Started as Musician New Direction in the Music Industry Made President of CBS Records More Control as Presiden…
About this article
Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article
You Might Also Like