An artist who is able to recognize their true mission in life artistically can empower themselves and others by spreading the most powerful and important message ever; how important it is to be true to yourself and what God has in store for your life. Not only is Estee a talented Christian/R&B/Hip-Hop artist, she has a very inspirational life changing story that brings meaning to who we are with God as our foundation. SayWhatNews was honored to speak with her in-depth about her journey.
SayWhatNews: Good morning Estee thanks for sitting down and speaking with us. Tell us who is Estee?
Estee: Praise the Lord! Thank you so much for wanting to interview me! I am honored. WELL…. Estee is a person who is in the prime of her life, discovering who she is, changing who she was, and learning more about Jesus along the way. I can say that there is NOTHING about me that is the same as me three years ago, literally. My job, my location, (my car even!) my body (I lost 60 pounds!), even my name (I’m a newlywed!) have all made changes for the better. I wasn’t even doing gospel music exclusively three years ago. That’s why I named my CD “Anew”. I have done a complete transformation, and as that great gospel song says, “God is not through with me yet!”
SayWhatNews: Wow that is amazing and inspiring. God is good!!! At the tender age of 3 you discovered your ability to play by ear.
Estee: Actually, mom discovered it, and my singing my middle sister Gail discovered that. I barely remember who said something first, but I can remember playing the songs I heard at church, commercials, and emulating a couple of things my sister Gail would mess around on the piano doing. The keyboard was intended for my OLDEST sister, and she was never on it! My mom said it was “Mary had a little Lamb”, Gail says it was some old Coca-Cola commercial.
SayWhatNews: During your middle school years you began writing your own songs and formed a gospel singing group “Proverbs”. Tell us how the group came to be, did you have auditions to help choose the members?
Estee: Well, it kind of started with some middle school kids who at lunchtime would rather sing in the music room than go outside and be social. So our music teacher (rest in peace, Mr. Little) gladly let us. It kind of came together on its own, I never really had to hold auditions because even through its transitions the group consisted of people I either sang around at school for years, or people I sang around at church for years, so I was well aware of their vocal ability. Then it was time for me to go off to college, and people kind of just went their ways.
SayWhatNews: What kind of formal music lessons did you take for 2 years? And how did the lessons help enhance your natural talents of singing and playing the piano?
Estee: Outside of the training at Central State University, the two years I had piano lessons were before I was even settled into being a teenager. These came from the organist from my church, the late Garving Virgil. I picked up things very quickly. Growing up I could play things but outside of “Every Good Boy Does Fine” I never really had music theory. I could play a chord but if you asked me its name, I could not have told you.
This training, plus the fact that I had perfect pitch, helped me to EXCEL at ear training in college, and in choir, I even corrected the professors sometimes! (“Uh excuse me, that note is a B flat and you played a B natural”; precious memories!) Not only that, it prepared me for the job I have now, spontaneously being able to accompany people at church is not an easy task. I also learned how to use the piano petals thanks to Mr. Virgil.
SayWhatnews: What was it like becoming the first accompanist for the Gospel choir in college at Central State University?
Estee: I was the first female gospel accompanist. It wasn’t specially recognized, it wasn’t something I bragged about. It didn’t feel like a special job or anything, it was more just a factoid for your knowledge.
SayWhatNews: After college you went on to teach school for 5 years at parochial schools and traveled around the country performing in clubs. How were you able to balance the two and stay focused?
Estee: I taught part-time. Music is a subject that students only have at average about twice a week, so some years I would juggle two schools and still have an extended weekend, and some years I only had to teach for one and have even that much more personal time. The only time my schedule could have caused a big conflict was when the school had concerts, so I made sure not to schedule gigs around that time because I would put in a lot of extra hours at work. Luckily my extracurricular life never caused problems in my job.
SayWhatNews: In 2002 you opened for the very talented singer Kelly Price. Tell us about that experience.
Estee: It felt like the gigs I did at home, just to a larger audience. It was wonderful to go away from home and people still were taking in your song. Usually the rule is a musician no one really knows will catch the audience’s attention by doing something EVERYONE knows. Then, the audience is more open to hear new things because of the relativity factor. Well, I did original stuff and they were still open! That told me something. The audiences were large; one was even a formal function. Kelly and I really did not have that much interaction- we didn’t get much of a chance to between the busy schedule and the fact that I had to leave the tour early because of some management business that had not been resolved.
SayWhatNews: How did you become the keyboardist for The Word, a Gospel Rhythm and Praise Band?
Estee: Rick Hubble, my future husband (unbeknownst to me at that time!) is also the head of The Word, and he knew my manager. It was communicated from Rick that he was looking for another keyboard player, and it was God because at that time I was still a secular artist. In spite of this, everyone was okay with me giving it a try. I sat in on rehearsals and transitioned and the rest is blissful, and marital, history! I am also a vocalist in the band. I have been with them close to three years now.
SayWhatNews: Having an R&B background, was it hard to convince the group that you could perform Gospel with the same passion?
Estee: Not at all, I guess Rick just took a leap of faith. One member of the group sang in the same college choir I was in, so she and Rick had the most insight about my musical history and ability. The others were unaware of my R&B past, but they enjoyed my interaction, and everyone was easy to work with, so things just fell into place.
SayWhatNews: As you began your spiritual journey and began to transition to become 100% Gospel artist, you were offered a recording contract. How hard or easy was it to walk away from it and continue on the path to become a Gospel artist?
Estee: Fortunately, the contract was broken down for me, so after that happened the temptation factor went from little to practically zero. Did I have a second thought every now and then? Yes. When you have an opportunity to acquire more than you have, a second thought is natural, but you have to ask yourself, at what costs are you gaining something, and is that something really a gain? If I am famous and make a lot of money, but feel miserable every night because I am not doing God’s work acquiring it, the consequence in my mind outweighs the “gain”. Another thing that made not signing that contract peaceful was the fact that I could not miss something that I did not have.
For instance, I never had a million dollars, so I don’t know what it’s like to lose it. That may be strange logic, considering that a recording contract would make most people step out of their comfort zone, but it was a blessing because it was a small contributor to making me get over it. I already had a rich life, before that contract even came along. Now, I have a more abundant rich life, and I still have my dignity.
SayWhatNews: Tell us how you ended up ministering for Bobbie Jones Gospel television show?
Estee: The Bobby Jones Show was a concert that I performed with The Word, so it was my husband who brought that together. It was a fun experience, though. There were groups from everywhere! It was a weekend affair; there were so many groups, from around the country. I had a couple of solos, though- it was great to have such positive feedback from people you don’t know.
SayWhatNews: You mentioned that God inspired the song “Move”. Why do you believe that God guided you to write such a moving and inspirational song?
Estee: In the midst of my revelation to put out a gospel album, I got the words to my first song, “Move”. All of this was while I was driving to work. I didn’t really think much about it. My spiritual transition was growing, and life was good. But I felt that I had to do more. I always feel there is some goal to move toward. This song is about not getting too settled in your comfortable life, because there is always another level with God. Since we all have flaws, there is always something to improve.
Life is all about moving forward. Even if God has blessed you with a big house, fancy car, nice job, kids, a spouse, whatever- thank Him for that, and find out what else He is ready to bless you with! Improve your relationship with Him. Like that other song says, “The best is yet to come!” But you can’t get abundant life standing still.
SayWhatNews: Amen to that. That is so true. Your husband Rick Hubble and you are in the process of building Omega 7 Productions. What is the goal and mission of your company?
Estee: Our goal is to be a powerhouse in producing gospel music. Ministering is something we take very seriously, and that is why we are dedicated exclusively to gospel. We want to be a vessel for future artists who want to spread the good news of Christ.
SayWhatNews: You have been compared to several talented musicians and singers like Kim Burrell, India Arie and CeCe Winans. How does that make you feel?
Estee: Well, seeing as I love all of them, I feel really good about that! I always hear someone new, to be honest, and then some people say I sound like a few people together. Some people say I sound like no one but myself. It’s funny because I don’t try to sound like anyone; I just have so many influences engrained in me.
SayWhatNews: With such a busy schedule how do you balance family life and singing?
Estee: VERY STRATEGICALLY! It is not easy at all! God has blessed us so much with opportunity that there is room for little else but work right now. But the best part about it is that my husband and I diligently work together. So we still have a lot of time with each other.
SayWhatNews: Tell us something about you that no one knows.
Estee: Albeit quick, it wasn’t an altogether easy transition to just be gospel, it was a step on faith, and God worked through my husband to assure me. I knew it was what I should do, I was still pondering if I was really ready for that transition. People told me I should be a gospel artist all my life, but I found comfort in false justifications. So, at 31, I finally came to that point in my life, but I was still trying to find total comfort in that. In fact, I thought, “I’ll put out a gospel album”, rather than thought, “I AM A GOSPEL ARTIST, and I’m putting out an album…” because there was nervousness in mentally establishing that.
I knew that being a gospel artist was also about living the life you minister about. Plus I was struggling with why I was given all of the material I’d written and the little recognition I had in the past if the secular music scene was not where I was supposed to be. But in spite of my thoughts, I decided to put my foot down and have faith, and God took the revelation and my mental process from there.
From there it went from those little uncertainties to zero doubt at all. This proves to me that sometimes you may not go about things knowing it all, but GO. Some things you’ll understand better by and by. Don’t ever question working for the Lord. It is always worth it. I realized that there are no cons to being a gospel artist, because even in your trials you are covered because you are doing work for Christ. And when all is said and done down here, I want to live a life that is pleasing to God.
SayWhatNews: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Estee: What’s spare time?! No, I’m just playing around. Although I don’t get to do much now, I like to, uh, LOVE to fish. I like to go to the gym, but I also feel that is an obligation. I also like word games. I think more than those, I like to just sit back and have a jam session with myself, playing soothing songs on the piano.
SayWhatNews: What’s in the future for Estee?
Estee: Prayerfully, the title of Sunday Best! I am in phase one, where people have to vote for you online. The ones with the most votes are eligible for a casting on the show. In a competition consisting of more than 5,000 contestants, I am now at #11! But I still need more votes to make the top ten, so I need your help, and the help of everyone out there. There are only three more days to vote, and it’s quick and free! Just go to www.sundaybestcasting.com/people/estee and place a vote. You have until Halloween, and you can vote once everyday until then. You have no idea how much your support is greatly appreciated!