On this episode of Small Doses, host Amanda Seales is joined by singer and songwriter Melanie Fiona to discuss the side effects of having integrity. And, as the women divulge, there are plenty of side effects.
Fiona began her music career as part of a Toronto-based girl group called X-Quisite in 2002. She went on to be in “The Renaissance” (with Drake) and have singles top Canadian and UK charts before, in 2012, her hit song “It Kills Me” became a Billboard Top 100. From there, bigger opportunities started flowing her way – as did challenges to her integrity.
Seales and Fiona get into the specifics of what exactly defines integrity. Two themes ring true for them both: integrity is about doing what feels right internally, instead of what looks best to others. It’s also about choosing the path that will be best for a person in the long run, instead of the short term.
As an actress, Small Doses host Seales shares she faces these decisions constantly, always asking herself if her children will be proud of what she does today and tomorrow. And as an emerging, young female musician, Fiona was tempted to neglect her integrity again and again.
In this episode, the singer shares stories of some of the sleaziest offers male musicians and producers made her in the early days, all with the promise of advancing her career. She even recalls one time she passed up on being on the cover of a magazine because she refused to show her ass.
Plus, the “Give It To Me Right,” singer shares how hard it was to stick to her guns on the type of music she wanted to create starting out. Everyone tried to put her in a box, says Fiona.
In fact, they didn’t even want her to be good – they just wanted her to look good. “Nobody wants to hear anyone sing that well” are words the artist says she heard when she was first meeting with record labels.
Fiona stayed true to herself as a musician and didn’t sign a deal until the right one came along. A long list of BET Awards, Grammys and NAACP Image Awards later, we’d say she made the right call. And she made that call while watching others jump at the opportunities she passed up on.
However, when artists forsake who they really are in favor of money, “I’ve never seen it work out,” says this performer.
The ability to say “No” has been Fiona’s greatest asset in terms of integrity. As the multi-Grammy-decorated musician says, “If you’re afraid to say no, you can be taken down any path…and left.”
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