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  • Bridney C.

10 Questions with Symphonious Vocalist, Mason Imperial

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

By Bridney C.

Mason Imperial photographed by La Chale Renee. Courtesy of Mason Imperial.

It is a pleasure to interview Mason Imperial for the Sweet Scoop.

Malik Correia, also known as Mason Imperial is a pop and R&B singer-songwriter from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was deeply involved with both his school and church choirs and he loved music since childhood.

In 2014, Imperial moved to New London, Connecticut to live near a close cousin of his. In 2017, he released his first single, “Be My Baby” off of his first EP, The Risen which continues to receive radio play in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Imperial, now 24, has performed at numerous shows, events, and most recently, performed at Fenway Park for a Red Sox home game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 31, 2019. He splits his time between New London and New Bedford, and performed at the Cape Verdean Recognition Parade in July 2019.

In this edition of 10 Questions, Imperial shared how he came up with his stage name, the first time he performed on stage, and discussed his new album project.

Imperial at the Red Sox baseball game photographed by Joanna Cross. Courtesy of Mason Imperial.

Bridney C: Tell me about yourself. Did you grow up in a musical household? Did anyone in particular, like a family member encourage you to be a singer? And which famous artist inspired you musically?

Mason Imperial: I grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I grew up within the church I was a church baby. I was a part of the choir which also led to me being a part of choirs in high school, so that is my background music-wise. As a child, I always used to wake up my mom at around 5 in the morning, and I had this one VHS tape that I always loved to play. It had so many throwback songs on it that are dear to my heart like “I Can Love You” by Mary J Blige. We would sing along to it. That’s where the roots started to form for me and just connecting music with love.

Growing up, I was and still am a fan of Usher, Luther Vandross, Babyface, and Toni Braxton. Babyface and Toni Braxton did an album together which is still phenomenal. I support it, listen to it back and forth and forth to back. I am a die-hard fan of Janet Jackson. I consider myself to her number one fan.

BC: How did you come up with the stage name, Mason Imperial? It sounds so regal! MI: My dad loved the name Mason and it made me feel connected to him. He passed away when I was 16, and there was a time gap in my life to where it dimmed. Up until the age of 20 in-a-half, I started to relight my fire and find myself again. I was already getting the ball rolling musically and I needed to find myself. And the only way I could’ve found myself to be the person I am standing today, sadly, my dad had to be a milestone.

[He had] To be taken from this Earth, so that I cannot be blinded about doing it to impress somebody, nor doing it to meet someone's expectations, but instead doing it because I have something I love doing. I love doing it because it holds a bigger meaning rather than worrying if I have approval. I got my last name Imperial because I was thinking of something so strong and powerful. Which is where my hashtag #ImperialNation comes from. It explains my strength, how powerful I am, and the fact that I love and support everyone. The fight is what's in me and it fuels my drive to succeed.

BC: You are originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts. What made you decide to move to New London, Connecticut? Did you move here to peruse your music career? MI: I moved to New London, Connecticut in seek of my cousin who was living out there. She’s been such a strong connection in my life, and I knew the right decision was to come out there to live with her. She’s kept me grounded and she’s kept me woke. It's the best decision I have ever made, and the move was not intended for me trying to focus on my music. I moved here because it served as my healing. At the time, I was 18 years old and I was still finding myself in this world.

BC: You originally released "Be My Baby" in 2017. Who or what inspired you to write that song? Was it the first song you recorded and released? MI: It was the very first song I have ever recorded, the first song I ever wrote, and the first song I released. My best friend at the time I was living in New Bedford. I had moved back to New Bedford for just a small glimpse of a time and within that time frame, my best friend and I got an apartment. I had a tablet with a keypad attached to it. One day, my friend suggested me to write a song, and she said: “just write.” I found this beat I was immediately pulled to on and the beat reminded me of Usher, one of the artists who inspired me. While writing I was being me but at the same time, I could hear Usher singing onto this beat as well. The voice that you hear today is not the same voice you heard singing “Be My Baby.” My voice is stronger and my vocal abilities have expanded farther than I have ever imagined.

BC: Where have you performed so far? Any notable venues you could name?

MI: There’s a lounge called Cultured AF in downtown New London. I have had the honor of being one of the opening acts for their soft opening, an unofficial grand opening for their newly established business. From there, I have had the honor of going there a few more times. I enjoy and love that venue very much. I have also performed at the Brass Rail in downtown New London. They had me sing immediately after the fireworks at Sailfest this past year, and I had previously done a couple of performances there. It was nice.

The Brass Rail was welcoming because it was where I used to do drag every weekend. I was one of the House Queens there and to come back and perform for them after so long, was a moment for me. My drag name is Nyla Jackson, and she will always be a part of me. She’s a form of Mason, and she’s a part of Mason. When I wear eyeliner on stage, that is a homage of Nyla. She’s still in there. The Brass Rail holds the biggest counts of performances I have done. That Friday before Sailfest, I had performed at Berry’s Ice Cream which was an amazing, fun, high energy performance.

Imperial photographed by Tiger Carper. Courtesy of Mason Imperial.

BC: What are some rituals you have before performing? MI: I do vocal scale warm-ups a lot. I drink green tea, sometimes with lemon and I enjoy drinking water with lemon rings. The oils of the skin are what I feel works for me. I take the skin of the lemon and I put it in water. I do this for all of my performances. There are three steps that I do follow: practice, master, and conquer. I practice that song. I master the song, so that way I can conquer the song. By the time, you get to the stage of conquering, you're going to feel invincible. Nobody can shut you down.

BC: Describe the first time you performed on stage. What was it like? Were you nervous? MI: In elementary school, I was a part of a talent show in New Bedford. I went on the stage dressed in short shorts, flip flops, and braids. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I wanted to sing. I sang “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and nobody was going to stop me from singing that song. I know I butchered the song, but it’s okay because I sang it with confidence. My dad bought me a karaoke machine, and that song was one of CD’s I used to sing along to. That was an enjoyable moment for me and I sang it with confidence.

BC: What advice can you give to someone out there who would like to chase their dream to be singer? MI: Be patient. Time is on your side, but time waits for nobody. The timing of things though it doesn’t feel like it, is always perfect. It forms us every second. Let your dreams come to you and be patient. Everyone's time will come, but less is more. Everything will come in due time.

BC: Any new or upcoming music or shows your fans should know about? What are you currently working on? MI: I’m currently working on an album. I had submitted and worked on one of the tracks with a local artist and our chemistry just clicked. There was an unreleased track I previously worked on that I had in my archives for a while, so I showed it to him and he enjoyed it. So, I wrote a new song recently, and I sent it to him. It was the best work I have ever done and he loved it. We started to and we still are working on it together. I came into the mindset where I thought, "let’s not give them [the supporters] a single, let’s give them an album." It’s not just my album, it’s not just his album, it’s our album. We’re going to give everything we can on this album.

I’m putting my first single “Be My Baby” on my first album to give respect to the song that started me. That’s what this album is about, it’s a story, and we're going to be collaborating throughout the album. But, there's also going to be times where there’s a track that’s just me singing or a track that’s just him. It’s showing two worlds colliding into one. It’s showing both of our stories being put into one project, so you’re hearing both of us in this album.

BC: Name your favorite top five songs to sing live! It could be a cover or your own. MI: My top five are:

1. “Here and Now” by Luther Vandross

2. “Angel’s Cry” by Mariah Carey and Ne-Yo

3. “Through the Rain” by Mariah Carey

4. “You Got It Bad” by Usher

5. “Together Again” by Janet Jackson

Be sure to visit Mason Imperial's YouTube Channel, M*A*S*E for updates and new music. Follow him on Soundcloud, Mason Imperial and Instagram @therealmason95.

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