The sweet and soulful voice of Akami Graham fills a room full of people who've come to kick back, share a drink with friends and listen to great music at the end of a long hard day of work. Here at The Executive on Thursday nights, it isn't a rare thing to observe listeners eagerly showing their enjoyment by singing along, or to watch as male club-goers show their appreciation for Graham's act by willingly giving up their own cold hard cash to the siren as she belts out some of the greatest hits from artists like Chaka Kahn, Betty Wright, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.
Graham says that she loves to perform and loves the reaction that she receives from the audience. Her onstage presence is full of life and reveals an entertainer who is comfortable and at one with her audience. By contrast, upon first introductions, Graham seems a bit introverted, giving short but sweet answers to questions about her interests and her desires for a career in music, as well as her history as a budding vocalist with such a strong voice.
Born and bred here in the city of Jackson, 25-year-old Graham attended Jim Hill High School, where she was a member of the Jim Hill Singers. The reputable talent of the Jim Hill Singers allowed them to travel to places such as Italy, giving Graham a glimpse into the type of rewarding lifestyle that could be achieved as a great performance artist.
Graham's stepping stone into the world of music began at the age of 5 when she began taking piano lessons. However, Graham states that she wasn't even aware of her actual singing ability until much later: "I didn't get into singing until junior high. My music teacher at school … I didn't really know I could sing until he put me on the spot and made me sing a solo," she says.
Graham's Thursday night routine generally consists of R&B music combined with a bit of southern soul. Throw in a live band, and you've got a night of live entertainment that just can't be beat. Graham says that music is indeed her first love and that she enjoys listening to Jill Scott, Bilal and Mint Condition as well as other music artists. Though at the moment she isn't signed to any particular indie or major recording company, Graham's desire is to find her place in the entertainment world one day. "I want to leave my mark as a real entertainer," she says.
Graham is looking to put together her own solo project, hopefully with the help of popular Mississippi producer Drummaboi of Traxxtar Records. However, this time, pre-recorded hits from other artists will not be featured on this exclusive project: Graham says she will be writing her own material and believes she has a lot to say.
"I write about love, heartache, disappointment and different life experiences," Graham says.
While "staying the pace" on the road to becoming a successful solo artist taking hold of as many performance opportunities as possible, Graham enlists the help of two good friends to help take care of the business that we as listeners are so rarely aware of in the world of entertainment. Dana Terry, owner of Signature Affairs, helps with Graham's public relations, while Kory Banks, with Hardkore Promotions, acts as manager.
Graham can be seen and heard every Thursday night at The Executive on Bailey Avenue beginning at 9 p.m. The songstress is also available for hire for private functions as well. "I do different venues, weddings, you know, receptions … all types of private functions." Graham can be booked through manager Kory Banks at 601-918-3914.
Great story. I remember Akami from her days performing with Omega from the group ADORE when Seven Studioz was across from 930 Blues Cafe.
- c a webb
Hey guys It's Shondra. Nice seeing Akami in the JFP. I attend Pure Thursdays on a regular basis in support of Hardkor and others. I am always inspired by those that work hard to hone their craft. It is also pleasing to see friends support each other. That's what a true partnership is about. Kory and I go way back...way back to the jheri curl days. We creatives and entertainers have come such a long way here in Mississippi. Though at times it's hard to be seen and get our voices heard, you can expect big things from us in the future. To all entertainers and visual artists....Keep up the good work! Hey! Speaking of Big Things....Save The Date! Oct. 28, 2006. It's the first Annual Mississippi's Best Awards (MBA).
- blaque butterfly