She may be an independent artist, but chances are you've heard of Amanda Diva.She may be an independent artist, but chances are you've heard of Amanda Diva.
Born Amanda Seales, the 27-year-old hip-hop/soul MC/poet has been a music journalist since 2003 and has hosted her own Sirius Satellite Radio and MTV2 shows since 2004 and 2005, respectively.
As if that weren't enough of a juggling act, Diva decided to pursue a career in hip-hop recording in 2006. "At that point, I started to feel like this is what I wanted to really do," she says. "That's when I made the decision to go from rapping as a hobby to making it a serious activity."
Although her well-established position in the industry helped further her aspirations, the Orlando, Fla.-raised artist says her connections also presented some challenges. "Because I come from a multifaceted background, my peers questioned my legitimacy," she says. "People weren't taking me seriously."
So Diva decided to play harder. She released her Q-Tip-assisted debut mixtape, "Bigger Than Hip-Hop," last year. She also performed during the Roots' annual Black Willy show in Philadelphia, backed by the troupe's drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson. A month after, Diva was asked to replace Natalie Stewart in the R&B group Floetry and began touring with core member Marsha Ambrosius in June. "That tour was the No. 1 thing that solidified me as an artist in people's eyes," Diva says.
Plans to record an album with Floetry fell by the wayside, but Diva—who is also the First Lady of the DJ Drama-helmed Aphilliates crew—didn't let it hinder her plans. Late last year she released "Life Experience," the first EP of a trilogy. She recently released "ForePlay," a mixtape serving as a prequel to "Love Experience," the next EP in the collection, due Feb. 10, 2009. Green Lantern, DJ Spinna and James Poyser have contributed production, while Estelle, Kardinal Offishall and Jack Davey make guest appearances. Diva is also working with 9th Wonder from Little Brother on an album set to be released next spring and is featured on Q-Tip's upcoming album, "The Renaissance."
Currently, Diva hosts a monthly variety show at New York's Drom called Spectrum Funk, where she invites other artists to perform with her, has an Internet comedy show, "Diva Speak TV" (which she describes as a cross between Dave Chappelle and "The Colbert Report"), and is a commentator on VH1's "Best Week Ever," which airs weekly on the network.
"My goal moving forward is to get a distribution deal for my music but continue to be indie," Diva says about what she hopes will come next. "2009 is the year. That's the plan."