December 4, 2022
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Petaluma R&B artist Simoné Mosely creates to heal – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

  • November 15, 2021
  • 7 min read
Petaluma R&B artist Simoné Mosely creates to heal – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Mosely is heading out on tour with artist Vocab Slick and DJ True Justice for a 2021 “Speak My Language Tour.”
Nov. 18: Show at Liquid Restaurant and Lounge in San Jose. 32 S. Third St. The show starts at 8 p.m. For more information visit bit.ly/3n2BNe7
Nov. 19: Show at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol. 230 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol. Starts at 10 p.m. Get tickets bit.ly/31F5d9W
As a teen, sitting in her bedroom, Simoné Mosely filled black-and-white composition notebooks with poetry.
It was the Sonoma County musician’s way of coping with her life’s struggles and escaping from the tumultuous world outside her bedroom door. Over a few years, she filled nearly 60 notebooks with meditations on feeling isolated as a Black person in a predominantly white community, heartbreak over her parents’ addictions to drugs and alcohol and recurring depression.
Today, the 32-year-old has transformed that trove of musings into songs, paired with R&B beats, her sultry voice and vulnerable lyrics that tell of the hardships she’s faced and overcome.
Mosely will perform at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol on Friday, Nov. 19. She also has two albums coming out: “Photosynthesis,” planned for an April 2022 release, and “Forward Back,” which she plans to release later this year. “Forward Back” is in part a tribute to her Nigerian Yoruba heritage, which she learned about only recently, in the process of making the album, and the Yoruba deity Oshun, representing purity, fertility, sensuality and love.
Through the peaks and valleys in her life, including time served in a juvenile detention center and a dark period in her early 20s, music has been a constant, and even saved her life, Mosely said.
“I swear, India Arie saved my life,” Mosely said. “Even when I ignored music, it always found me one way or another.”
Mosely, born in Santa Rosa and raised in Petaluma until she was 18, struggled with her identity and place in the world for most of her childhood.
Her parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol for most of her life, she said. She and her family of eight lived on food stamps and moved frequently in and out of shelters across Sonoma County. She served time at a juvenile detention center. She also felt isolated for being Black in a mostly white community.
A dangerous low point came on a cold afternoon in 2003, when Mosely was 14. She walked to the Payran Street bridge in Petaluma, with a plan to take her own life.
A few hours before, a staff member at the Sonoma County juvenile detention center had given Mosely a CD, “Voyage to India,” by soulful R&B singer India Arie. Mosely walked to the bridge carrying her black Sony Walkman, covered with skateboarding stickers.
“That album legitimately saved my life,” Mosely said. “I remember I listened to the song ‘Get It Together’ on that album, and it completely pulled me out of what I was going through.”
The lyrics:
“Get it together
You wanna heal your body
You have to heal your heart
Whatsoever you sow you will reap
Get it together”
“I made it home that day,” Mosely said.
Music stayed with her, and Mosely started making her own songs. At 17, Mosely was serving time at the Sonoma County juvenile detention center for stealing a car. One day, as she walked down a hall, a staff member heard Mosely singing and suggested she experiment with the music editing software Garage Band.
In a room at the detention facility, she worked with the program and experimented with melodies and beats. She also recorded a cover of 2001 R&B song “City High Anthem,” which carries a message that life’s circumstances don’t define you.
Her 20s held more hardship, however. In 2008, she moved to Berkeley and worked as a stripper at a Roaring ’20s-themed club. It was also at that time, she said, that she was sex trafficked along with other women.
Her escape was playing music every week on an outdoor stage at People’s Park in Berkeley. She’d cover songs by some of her favorite artists — Lauryn Hill, John Mayer, Erykuh Badu and Aretha Franklin.
“Singing on that cement stage every week gave me a break from the stripping lifestyle,” Mosely said. “It helped remind me who I was when I felt just completely lost.”
In 2012, Mosely moved back to Santa Rosa to raise her first son, Noah. Three years later, after a long hiatus from music, Mosely was invited out by a friend for a night of Karaoke.
She immediately fell back into music and never looked back. She released her six-song album “Compost” in 2018 as a testament to the tribulations she has faced.
“It’s called ‘Compost’ because the songs represent the old scraps and garbage that I’m feeding my new self,” Mosely said.
The lyrics are intimate and honest. Each song is filled with R&B beats, dynamic acoustic guitar strings and Mosely’s powerful voice.
She started “Compost” in February 2018 while juggling various jobs and taking care of her two sons. She finished the album in four months, living in Santa Rosa and driving every day after work to a recording studio in San Jose to record her music. She sometimes stayed overnight on an air mattress at the studio to finish a song.
Mosely is heading out on tour with artist Vocab Slick and DJ True Justice for a 2021 “Speak My Language Tour.”
Nov. 18: Show at Liquid Restaurant and Lounge in San Jose. 32 S. Third St. The show starts at 8 p.m. For more information visit bit.ly/3n2BNe7
Nov. 19: Show at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol. 230 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol. Starts at 10 p.m. Get tickets bit.ly/31F5d9W
“All of the songs are all stories about how I became me,” Mosely said. “It was my way of processing what I had been through.”
The album’s first song, “Let It Take You,” begins with piano chords and soft beats. It describes Mosely’s day-to-day routine of balancing life as a musician, mom and worker.
A sample of the lyrics:
“I still got this dream of mine,
So I call my producer for studio time,
Booked at 11:30,
Tell the boys a story,
Kiss them while they sleep
And I’ll be home before the morning … take me away.”
“I’m taking care of my dreams and myself. I’m filling up my cup,” Mosely said. “I’m doing that while also fulfilling my role as a momma. And I’m never going to stop.”
The song, she said, was written mainly in her tiny studio apartment but in other places, too. She’d draft lyrics in the car while working as a sales coordinator for Gorilla Grow Tents; at the park while sons Noah, 9, and Kayden, 6, played on the slides and monkey bars; even while sitting on the toilet, she said, laughing.
“I wanted to paint a clear depiction of my life,” Mosely said. “I thought, ‘What can I write down that people could relate to?’
“A lot of the times, when I’m writing, it feels like it’s something outside of me creating the words,” Mosely said. “Ninety percent of the time, it doesn’t feel like me writing. I usually need to hear a beat first and then the emotions and lyrics will come flooding through.”
She hopes to help others heal with her music the same way lyrics and melodies have helped her mend.
“I want to heal,” Mosely said. “I want to help others heal, whether that’s my community, three kids down the block, my children. If I’m at least helping one person, that’s all I’m doing music for.”
Her music helps her, too. Her upcoming album “Photosynthesis” starts with her single “Mirror;” it’s a personal reflection on her addiction and sobriety.
“Music was there for me every single time to help pull me out of what I was going through,” Mosely said. “That’s why I make music — I want to be that voice for someone else. I want to be someone else’s India Arie.”
You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at mya.constantino@pressdemocrat.com. @searchingformya on Twitter.
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