What's your full name and also artiste name if you have one?
Imani Patterson is my full name and my artiste name is Imani Ray.
What is your Nationality and where do you reside?
I am of Trinidadian descent. I am based in New York City.
How old were you when your talent became evident and you knew you were gifted? Feel free to give some details.
I was 5 years old when I started to study the art of dance. It wasn't until I was 16 years old that I decided to start taking vocal lessons to start off my career in singing. I was 18 years old when I started to record my own music.
Who is your biggest musical and non-musical inspiration?
One of my biggest musical inspirations is Selena. I loved how she was a Mexican American born artist. Even though she was born in the US she embraced her Mexican roots while creating her music and it shaped her to be one of the most respected performers this world has seen. So she's always inspired me to do the same being that I was born in the US but I embrace my Trini roots especially when it comes to doing music.
In your opinion, what has so far been your biggest hurdle as a new Soca artiste?
My biggest hurdle as a new Soca artiste I would have to say is paving my own lane, creating my own identity, and trying to keep the momentum going especially being US-based. That is why I try my best to go to Trinidad as much as possible to get my name more known each year and network as much as I can. Networking in the soca industry is vital.
Are you happily married/taken, or single living your best life?
*Orlando Octave's voice* Singleeeee. Lol I am single and just chillin' at the moment.
What is your most memorable performance or experience to date?
My most memorable performance to date is definitely the 2020 International Soca Monarch. I finally made it into the semi-finals and it was just a great learning experience that I am glad I had this Trinidad Carnival season.
Soca music is still not recognized as a mainstream music genre. Why do you think this is and what do you think is the first step to bring about change?
I think we need more numbers in black and white that shows all of these digital platforms that we do have people that listen and love this kind of music. I think artiste, old and new, need to make sure they are registering their songs on these platforms and not just YouTube like before. We also need the people to just continue streaming as much as possible so our genre can get on the wave with all the others.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
I see myself performing alongside the big names we know today while also putting together some businesses that I've always wanted to do. Being an artiste and entrepreneur is something I have been dedicated to since I was younger.
Do you have a favourite song (not your own)? If you do, can you tell us why it's this particular one?
Bottle Over Head!!!!!!! Issa big chuneeee! Joice is my boy and he is very talented. He really GT with this song this year. Iz just a vibe for me. Anytime I heard it during carnival it would get me so hype.
Do you look up to any Soca artiste as a role model or inspiration?
Growing up I looked up to Destra so I would have to say she is one. I'm also inspired by Nadia and Fay-Ann for her attitude and how she just commands the stage. Machel is also another inspiration simply for his work ethics and how he's always bringing the energy.
Can you cook? If yes, what's your best dish? If you can't cook, what's the dish you love to order?
Yes, I can cook. My favorite thing to make is corn porridge from scratch. It's something I always did in Trinidad with my grandfather.
What genre besides Soca can we find in your personal music playlist?
Everything you can think of besides metal rock. I love most genres and whatever I listen to during the day just depends on my mood. Reggae, Dancehall, Pop, Adult Contemporary, RnB, Trap, etc.
Life of the party or do you prefer to lay back and go with the flow?
Both. Again it depends on my mood. I can be the life of the party and then some days I'm just chillin' and lay back.
Dreams of working with anyone in particular, performing on any specific event or in a certain country?
I definitely would like to perform for Uber Soca Cruise. I would like to work with Nadia, Lyrikal, and Fay-Ann; just to name a few. I most certainly look forward to coming back to the UK and having the opportunity to perform there.
I have a slight fear of driving over high bridges and I am claustrophobic.
Will you be releasing new material even though no carnivals will probably take place this year?
I most definitely will be releasing new material. The people still need music on a day-to-day basis. This is why we don't need Soca to be classified as a seasonal genre, for unfortunate times like 2020.
Any other rising Soca stars we should keep an eye out for?
There's definitely a lot so don't charge my heart, and charge my brain. One of my favorites I would have to say is Jerome Gonzalez. He's super passionate about his music and keeps his focus on nothing but that.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Working with Precision Productions is definitely a personal achievement I am most proud of. It's something I dreamed of and for it to happen is just simply amazing. I'm still processing it to this day.
If you had the chance to make one wish a reality, what would you wish for?
Inspiring many people to be their best through my craft in music is definitely one wish I would like to bring to reality.
What advice will you give to any young artiste, particularly females, considering to pursue a career in the Soca industry?
Be true to yourself. Think of ways to be creative and step outside the box. Don't get caught up in doing things because everyone else is doing it. Be brave to be different because it's easier to follow the trend than to set it. So accept that challenge and set it.
Any last words for the people of Europe?
I can't wait to visit and vibe with you guys so in the mean to time take jam in yuh waist! 😝