Triad native making her impact on the music industry

Triad native Imani Pressley

Triad native making her impact on the music industry
May 05
05:05 2016



Triad native Imani Pressley is already making her impact on the music industry. With a Grammy and Dove Award nomination under her belt by the age of 19, she may be well on her way to being globally recognized.

Pressley, who is a native of Greensboro, discovered her love for music at a very early age. She began her musical journey by learning church chords from her mother. “My mother played the organ. I knew that learning church chords would take me anywhere,” says Pressley.

Music is a huge part of Pressley’s family history. Her mother and father both had their own bands. “My grandfather and uncles play several instruments and my grandmother and aunts all sing,” said Pressley. “It’s like a family tree and it just came down to me and I’ve been blessed to do everything and put all those things together.”

Pressley, who produced her first songs at the age of nine, not only plays three instruments, but is a singer and songwriter. “I play the piano, drums and guitar. I’m currently learning the bass,” said Pressley.

A meeting earlier in her career with another Greensboro native offered Pressley to a link to Prince, who died last month of yet unknown causes.

Pressley had the opportunity to collaborate with Greensboro native Shelby J., who is best known as a vocalist in Prince’s NPG Super-Band. “I was blessed to run into Shelby J.  When she told me that she knew Prince, I nearly passed out,” Pressley said. He is literally my inspiration.”

Pressley was introduced to Prince through his music by her parents. She believes that his music related to her soul. “As a musician and producer, I hear everything he does in his music and I was so inspired by that,” said Pressley. “That made me realize that there is no limit to great music. In my mind, He was the person that pioneered that [concept].”

Through her connection with Shelby J., Prince had the opportunity acquaint himself with Pressley. “He’s a part of why I do music. For him to know my name and for him to have asked about me before he passed is the most special thing in the world that I’ve ever encountered from a music artist.”

Pressley believes that Prince’s legacy will continue to live on through musicians that he’s touched. “His music is timeless. He didn’t censor out any of his emotions,” says Pressley. Through songs like Purple Rain and When Doves Cry, you really feel his lyrics. His lyrical content and emotions are going to live with people forever. Then his musical talent puts the icing on the cake. There’s never going to be another Prince.”

Pressley, who released her first album titled ‘I Ain’t Ashamed To Praise God’ at the age of 14, was afforded several opportunities to perform at various churches in the North Carolina region. “Everyone was impressed that I was able to sing, rap, produce, and play everything,” states Pressley in her online bio.

After reading an article in Jet magazine, Pressley’s father sent some of her music to JPat Records, an entertainment company owned by mother and former manager of R&B superstar Usher Raymond. Her music was discovered in the trash by JPat’s A&R development mentor, which led to an invitation by the company. “A guy there threw my stuff away,” Pressley said. Luckily, Michi Robinson, who I now call my godfather, picked it up and basically took me under his wing. He’s a big reason why I’m here today.”

While continuing her journey to musical superstardom, Pressley received her high school diploma from Ragsdale High School in Jamestown. She also began uploading videos of herself constructing songs from scratch in her home studio to YouTube. These videos eventually caught the attention of Fred Jerkins III, Grammy winning songwriter and brother of producer Rodney Jerkins of Darkchild Production.

After signing with Darkchild, Pressley, contributed her producing and songwriting talents to releases by gospel artists such as Canton Jones, Virtue, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7. She produced a song entitled, “Bring Your Praise” from Trin-I-Tee 5:7’s sixth album “Angel & Chanelle,” which earned Pressley a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Album. A month later, it was nominated for a Dove Award as well.

Pressley went on to receive an Associate Degree in Audio Engineering from Guilford Technical Community College. After completing her degree, she decided that it was time to finally pursue a career as a Pop/R&B artist.

“As I grew older, I found that in that genre, I was able to express myself more. I know that I’m a clean individual, so I’ll keep it clean as if it was gospel,” Pressley said. “I just knew I could express myself more, empower women, talk about love, talk about having fun, and talk about inspiring people. That was the field where I could really capture my entire vision.”

Pressley said her best advice for North Carolina artists who dream of making it in the music industry is to do what’s in their hearts. “Stay true to your heart and as cliché as it might sound, don’t give up on your vision.”

Pressley has a very big vision for herself. She will be working on putting a full project of her own together soon. “I’ve been blessed to work with Brian Kennedy, a record producer and musician,” Pressley said. “We’ve got some magic in the works.”

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