In her first music video in 2011, hip-hop and rhythm and blues artist BriaMarie Moss-Wilkerson, known as BriaMarie, danced in the hallways of Temple’s Barton Hall. In these scenes, each movement, down to the flick of her wrist, falls in-synch with the other dancers.
“Bria kept us in line,” said senior kinesiology major Sedequa Simmonds, a member of Temple dance group By Any Means Necessary, who was featured in the video. “The dance team, we like to play around a lot, but not on that video. Bria made sure we were together.”
This video and a demo landed BriaMarie, 22, an interview with Grammy-winning producer Carvin Haggins, and the alumna became the first artist to sign to his newer project, Ethical Music Entertainment, in December 2011. Her debut album, “Freshman,” is scheduled for release in June.
BriaMarie said she “stalked” Haggins. She reached out to him on Twitter and Facebook and sent him the music video she filmed on Main Campus, where she used the halls and classrooms of Barton Hall as a space to dance, as well as the green screen at the Tech Center.
“When I saw her video, I thought that she was definitely talented,” Haggins said.
BriaMarie said she remembers always having drive and motivation to go after what she wanted. At 8 years old, she begged her father to allow her to sing a song at a party hosted by his Motown cover band, The Groove-Spot Band. A young BriaMarie dithered between singing Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” and Aaliyah’s “Come Over.”
“I chose Mariah Carey,” BriaMarie said, promising her father that she’d remember all of the lyrics.
By age 14, BriaMarie began singing backup vocals for Groove Spot.
Once she got to Temple, she decided to start producing her own music. BriaMarie majored in media studies and production with a business concentration with a minor in music and graduated from Temple in May 2014.
“It was a just great community to learn and grow and experience,” BriaMarie said. “I fell in love with hip-hop when I came to Temple, being exposed to different types of music and art.”
But her infatuation with hip-hop led BriaMarie to some conflicting views on the messages of some of her favorite songs.
“When I first started, it was kind of like this struggle with, ‘Am I the artist that is in a leotard all the time?’” BriaMarie said. “Is singing about bedroom activity all the time?”
Haggins helped her deal with these questions once she got to Ethical Music Entertainment, and now, BriaMarie credits Haggins and his religious guidance to her growth as a more ethically aware artist.
With Ethical Music Entertainment, she started a campaign called “Love Over October,” marking National Bullying Prevention Month.
“#LoveOverOctober” on Instagram guided participants with good deeds like, “Leave a nice note on the restaurant check,” and “Send a ‘Thinking of you’ text.”
Suicide prevention organization iChoose2live and Haggins’ organization, Rage Against the Ratchet, also partnered with them in the cause for bullying awareness.
BriaMarie hosted and performed at a recent fashion show for young women at The Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. She said she channeled the same ideals that Rage Against the Ratchet holds, one that strays from explicit content in hip-hop and R&B.
“We have a lot of attention on the buck-wild and ratchet lifestyle, and this is a way to balance it,” BriaMarie said.
BriaMarie channels these same social pressures in her music. Her track “Bye Boy,” served as an outlet of her anger to a derogatory comment someone made to her at a party.
“We put that in the song, and then the song is basically like this response to that man, what I should’ve said, and what I hope other people will say,” BriaMarie said.
Haggins described BriaMarie’s work ethic as meticulous.
“I think she’s got vocal OCD or something,” Haggins said. “If she doesn’t get it right, she’ll keep doing it.”
Her hard work paid off, as her tracks were featured on scenes in two episodes of VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.” At the end of the episodes, a photo of the album cover, a picture of BriaMarie herself, was broadcast.
“My dad said childhood friends were calling him,” BriaMarie said. “It was really cool because it got to expose the music to a larger audience, and also for a show like ‘Love & Hip Hop’ to support positive music, that was awesome.”
Kerri Ann Raimo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.