Bold & Polished
by: Maquita Donyel
“So you didn’t win the battle, but there’s still a whole war…Don’t let yourself lose” – Arjay
(From her self written song “Don’t Go“. [A Must See Video Here]
Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice
I cannot think of a description more accurate.
Born in Latimore, California and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, ArJay is a beautiful, bold and confident 16 year old with dreams of, “changing the world through clean and positive music”. She greets me with big brown eyes, a sweet smile and an ever so cool, “Hey!”.
Although singing and songwriting is now her specialty, Arjay did not begin with singing. The dreams of singing were fostered by dreams of becoming an actress.
“I started off as an actress when I was four years old; my older sister was the singer first. Most people want singers when their voices develop which is at ten years old, so I got more serious [about singing] when I was [ten]. Singing is what I like the most about entertainment. You can incorporate it into anything and it’s what people go to a lot for inspiration.”
At the age of 12, Arjay joined Dream City University (DCU). DCU is the “ World’s First Music Industry College” located in Virginia Beach, VA and ran by Founder and CEO, Alisha “M’Jestie” Brooks, a platinum-selling songwriter. It was here that Arjay began to gain more confidence in herself and in her artistic abilities.
“In school I was always very energetic and outgoing with [people] my age. But with people that weren’t my age , I was very shy—especially towards adults. That was something that M’Jestie helped me with; I’m definitely not shy anymore. I like to call [DCU] ‘Celebrity Training’. She teaches us everything about interviewing, performing, and anything that goes along with [becoming an artist]. [Before this] I didn’t think I could write songs at all. But we did our first Song Writing Camp two years ago and that is where I wrote ‘Dont Go,’ “
“I found out about the power of music when I was in middle school. I think [middle school] is when people start experiencing [a lot of] emotions and stuff. We go from being kids into teenagers so [we’re] not as innocent anymore. I was inspired to write, ‘Dont Go‘ because right before High School we were going to a suicide walk at Mt. Trashmore in honor of Chris Lighty, someone very important in the music industry that committed suicide. It [made] me look back in Middle School, [that is] where bullying pretty much starts.”
In Arjay’s shoes… Pursuing your passion in music as a sophomore in high school consists of weekly performance practices (with increased practices before big performances), attending meetings and maintaining good grades in school. She must also partake in the preparation needed for opening act performances, such as the DCU opening performance for Jacob Latimore during “Bash in the Boro” in Statesboro, Georgia. On the Jacob Latimore performance:
“It was one of the best performance we had—that was a really fun one.”
On managing grades and music:
“Ninth grade was easy keeping my grates up. I don’t have bad grades, [half of my grades] are A’s and [the other half] are B’s. It’s stressful trying to get the work done [while] having to fit in practice, studio time and missing days while we are on tour. But this is what I want to do and I have to keep my grades up if this is what I want to do…so I do it.”
The rewarding opportunities presented to Arjay and the other DCU members do not stop there. This month, Sunday, May 25, 2014, Arjay and her fellow DCU members will be opening for the OMG Girlz and Mindless Behavior at the Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. GET TICKETS HERE! When asked about the team’s reaction to the Mindless Behavior news, Arjay replied:
“Christmas night we found out that we would be going to Florida, [to Jeremy Mincey of the Dallas Cowboys, studio]. We went down to the studio and hung out with Mindless Behavior. We thought it was a joke! We thought, ‘Like really on Christmas night we’re gonna find this out?’ We packed up everything and left that same night. We were definitely excited. We were jumping around *laughs* it was a fun night—I don’t think we slept at all.”
Behind the writing, the performances, and the music videos, Arjay is still a normal teenage girl.
“I know a lot of people go through phases with who they want to be and what their style is; I went through a lot of those phases. I went through different styles until I figured out who I really [was].— I know when I made ‘Dont Go’ I was in the ‘Girl Next Door’ phase, one time I was trying to be like Rihanna…too hard core *laughs*. I don’t want to portray that in my music videos and stuff, but sometimes I [need] that mentality when I’m performing. I do have an attitude, but it’s under control and I have a sweet side too; It’s [the] princess attitude.”
When asked about the advice she had for other girls interested in pursuing their dreams, Arjay replied:
“Don’t let anyone get in the way of what you want to do. Someone might think you are the worst singer in the world, but your voice is just different— but not even just talking about singing, your talent could just be different. But your talent can be molded [so that you can] learn how to perfect your difference.”
Advice on how to overcome insecurities?
Don’t keep it to yourself. You should have that one friend that you can go to about anything. Make sure you’re talking to someone that you can trust.
What can girls/teens do better toward their interactions with each other?
Be open with one another and try to look at other people with a positive outlook. A lot of times the first thing people do when they see a person is judge. Dont judge when you see a person, just be open to who they are.
On being yourself?
[I’m motivated] by the difference I can make in other people, how I can touch their lives through music. [I’m also motivated] by my family at Dream City University. We’re not just people that work with each other, we’ve grown to become a family and we all keep each other motivated in doing what we want to do.
Two personal biggest influences?
Ciara – I just like her style. One of my favorite videos from her is Like a Boy. Gwen Stephani- Her energy is crazy. I love her energy I love her style, she’s just so spontaneous, I love it.
Just like any other teen you can find Arjay at school studying and hanging out with her friends. However, Arjay was chosen as Pistil of the Month because of her unafraid attitude, her sensitivity towards helping others, and her willingness to do what it takes to get what she feels she deserves. Her boldness to go after her dream, her determination to do the unpopular and make “clean and fun” music popular, her boldness to stand up for what she believes, and her willingness to sacrifice normal “teen” activities to pursue her passion…these are all things that girls, teens, and women alike can use to motivate, encourage, and inspire themselves to be great. KEEP UP WITH ARJAY & Dream City University! Twitter @DreamCityUniv @Arjay_DCU IG: @DreamCityUniversity @Arjay__DCU For more information about DCU and the DCU members, visit DreamCityUniversity.com Be bold. Run Free. “Perfect Your Difference”. Stay Polished Pistil