There comes a time in an individual's life when they learn the hard truth that nothing in life is given easily. However, anything worth having is worth fighting for. And a fight is just what our next guest has given since she stepped foot into Houston’s music scene.
D. Savannah is the new edge that R&B didn’t know it needed. She first caught my attention with her music covers, and her sassy signature introduction, “Let me put on my lipgloss.” Her raw, soulful southern vocals matched with her dynamic stage presence are what make her pop amongst the crowd. Her resilience in honing her craft over the years is what finally has her name buzzing around town.
The highlight of her career thus far has been performing at Hulu broadcasted, ACL Festival in Austin Tx with Tobe Nwigwe, as well as appearing on the background vocals of “On My Soul” featured on the Transformers: Rise of The Beast Motion Picture Soundtrack!
As I sat down with D. Savannah, I appreciated her balance of confidence and humility in who she is, and where she is headed. I got to learn more about her music, journey, and work ethic. D. Savannah's belief in herself is what keeps pushing her into rooms she only imagined. With that said, this rising star stays booked so there’s no excuse for you not to witness the D. Savannah experience firsthand! Continue reading to learn how D m. Savannah has navigated such an uprising career, and how you can apply some of her tactics to your career strategies!
Keiyana: Welcome D. Savannah to Foundation First! We are so happy to have you here. How are you doing today?
D. Savannah: Thank you for having me! I’m happy to be here. I'm doing well and feeling rested. My 30th birthday was this past weekend, so I am still on a high from that.
Keiyana: Awesome! What did you do in celebration of your birthday?
D. Savannah: Originally, I did not have any plans. I wanted to do something light and go to dinner. My boyfriend and family surprised me with a dinner party with everybody I knew. So that was beautiful.
Initially, I wanted to be on the beach out of the States. However, it did not work that way, but I did manage a trip to Galveston. I wanted to rest and relax going into 30 and reflect. It is funny because I do not look 30, but right before my birthday, I was feeling uneasy. Subconsciously I was wondering, “Am I doing everything I am supposed to be doing? Am I on the right path? Is God pleased with my life and my career?” Once my birthday arrived, I felt this powerful force reassure me, “Girl, you got it!” So it all worked out. I feel amazing and happy to be 30.
Keiyana: I am happy your birthday turned out great outside your initial plans. So, tell me, when did the pursuit of singing become a priority for you as a career?
D. Savannah: I started singing around the age of six, seven years old, but it was not until I was about 16 years old that I decided to pursue music as a career. From there, I started taking voice lessons and auditioning for American Idol, X Factor, and The Voice.
At that time, I decided to release my music instead of performing covers on competition shows. In 2018, I released my first single, ‘Dirty Lovers,’ which is available on all platforms. From there, it has been a priority for me. I quit my job and have been a full-time independent artist for about a year.
Keiyana: What would you consider your greatest strength and weakness? Personally and as an artist?
D. Savannah: I will start with my weakness. My weakness is sometimes I can get complacent. I love to sleep, <laugh>, so I can get a little lazy. There is a bit of procrastination in me, but that makes the result of whatever project or deadline I have greater because there is another level of motivation to get it done.
My strengths are that I am authentically myself. I can adapt to any environment and any genre. I do not have to fit in or do what everybody else does. Therefore, it does not matter when I decide to get up and work, how I decide to get up and work, or what that looks like because it turns out phenomenal at the end of the day. I also believe that my faith and belief in where I am supposed to be have never wavered.
Keiyana: How would you describe your style of music? Has it changed since you first started?
D. Savannah: Yes. When I first started singing and performing, I was super shy. I did not have that much confidence. I knew I could sing and hit the notes, yet, there is a difference between being a singer or a rapper versus being an entertainer and an artist. 2020 was a transformational year for me. I learned who I was as a person and an artist. I started playing with more songs outside my natural R&B habitat to add my creative twist.
Once I began putting the videos out on social media, people's response was, “Wait a minute, this is kind of hard.” It even grew in me. I liked being able to take something and combine those worlds. So combining R&B and Hip-Hop has been phenomenal for my brand and sound. Many tones have been added to the dynamics of my sound and how I deliver a song. Mixing it up and stepping out of a safe zone contributed to my sound and music today.
Keiyana: When performing, you elude such confidence and comfortability on stage. How did you develop such a strong stage presence?
D. Savannah: Musical theater played a part in it. For a few years, I worked at the Ensemble Theater as an actress, predominantly in musical theater. My last show was more theater than music, so I learned how to get comfortable on the stage. I think that helped because when I look back at my videos and see the dramatics in my hand gestures and face, I know it came from being in musical theater. So I think that helped boost my confidence along with sitting in the fact that I am good. I believe sometimes we take for granted the talents given to us.
Though I am more outgoing now, I have always been shy from a young age, so those tones are still there sometimes. I had to sit back and reflect on what I was doing and the encouragement I received from people and rest in it. Get out of my head. I was intentional about being on every stage as everything opened up from the pandemic. I was singing in front of people more, which helped. So the practice made it perfect for sure.
Keiyana: With that said, how have you managed to grow your career to where it is today?
D. Savannah: I have managed to excel by staying present on social media, networking, taking risks, and getting out of that shy zone a lot of times. I can be in a room full of heavy hitters in the industry and be shy in a sense because I am well-known in one area, but not in another. So it's like, how do I work these rooms? So when I am in the rooms where I want to make a name for myself, I have to give myself a pep talk and say, “Hey, jump out there.”
Just do it because they are regular people like you and me. I think being in those rooms and being able to understand that I am just as talented as these other people that I aim to be helped me a lot. And as I said previously, I was at every live music scene because I wanted to be seen on social media and in person. Therefore, the combination of the two helped.
Keiyana: Describe your creative and writing process.
D. Savannah: I like to write from real-life experiences. Whether they are my experiences with a fabricated ending or someone else’s story, everything is an inspiration when you are an artist.
When I write, I like to be at home. I have not reached that space where I am in different studio sessions around a different bunch of people. I have done it a few times, but it is not my style. As a singer, our words are very different from rappers who are in the studio, and they got 30 people in there with blunts, alcohol, noise, etc. I cannot focus the way I would like, so I prefer to be at home in my zone. I will have my candles lit, my wine, and whatever else I need to relax, think and process what I want to write about.
When it is time to select a track, I listen until something strikes my spirit. If I hear something and immediately get intrigued, I focus on that. If it feels like love, I write about love. If it feels like heartbreak, then heartbreak. If I want to be vulnerable about where I am in life, then it will be about that. It just depends. From there, whatever melody pops into my head, I will go with that until it sticks, then I lay down the lyrics.
Keiyana: What has been your toughest challenge as an artist breaking into the music industry?
D. Savannah: I want to say not having enough money. <laugh> With independent artistry today, we do not have labels to back us up so everything is self-funded. I think back to Kanye's documentary on Netflix, where he had his homies following him around with a camera for content. Not too many people want to do that anymore. Everybody wants a price, which is understandable, but it is hard to form a team of people that believe in you until you get off the ground because everybody has their price. I am even talking to myself in certain situations. Although I am full-time with music, I have bills to pay. There are some things where I have collaborated on and gotten paid little to nothing.
I understand the opportunity and the long run of the situation. So there is that part to it. On the other hand, having video shoots, a wardrobe, people in your video, and the venues costs money. However, with social media, there are many different ways to utilize and create where you do not have to spend anything. You have to be more minimalistic. Take Tobe Nwigwe for example. At the beginning of his career, he would use a big open field with his wife, his producer, his three dancers, his videographer, and his engineers. And that was the team, and they repeated the process until they became what they are today. Another challenge can be gatekeeping. Thankfully, I do not experience that too much. People who encounter me on a higher level like what I am doing. However, people do not rock with you until everybody else is rocking with you. You could be all these different things, but until you have a hundred thousand people sharing your name and content, it will not get where it needs to be.
Keiyana: Earlier, you mentioned networking. What method of networking has proven successful for you in your career?
D. Savannah: When people invite me to things, I look at the benefits. If I know influential people who I am trying to be will be in that room, then I am going to show up, and I am going to do my research on who is there. That way the conversations are not one-sided. That is the key to networking from what I have learned from people in the industry who have spoken about it.
You have to be interested in who you are talking with so there is a gain on both ends. I want you to be interested in what I bring to the table, and vice versa, you also want to feel appreciated, seen, and interested. A lot of times, we like to stay in our little circle, and that is not going to get us anywhere. You have to go into those other rooms and step out on faith and be yourself. People will rock with you without knowing what you do because you are being yourself. They do not even know what you sound like, but because they like your energy they will get you in the door. That has been a testament to my journey as well. People have seen me, liked me, and never heard me a day in my life, and then when I finally do sing, it's like, what in the hell? <laughs >
Keiyana: You have had the opportunity to perform with Houston’s own Tobe Nwigwe. Tell us more about that opportunity and experience.
D. Savannah: The first opportunity I missed out on. I received an email from someone on his team who had seen some of my work and invited me to be included in his video shoots. I sent in my information, but I never got a follow-up email. I believe something got lost in the process, so I reached out to see what was going on. About two months passed after that before they wrote me back. However, when they responded, they invited me to be a part of the ACL Fest, which took place last October in Austin.
What I appreciated the most was the control he had over his productions. He had insight into the choreography, the vocal production, listening and critiquing, and making final decisions. Tobe was in rehearsals from beginning to end for the most part. I love that he keeps his family around him. Everybody he has around him has been around him from day one, so I appreciate the loyalty. The experience reminded me of my productions and how I am very hands-on down to the day of the event. I am putting up decorations, doing RSVPs, and giving out instructions. So seeing that mirrored me and my drive.
On the first night of the ACL Fest, the energy on the stage was so crazy that we broke the stage, and this was a live show. The choir was already hyped during rehearsals, so when the music and all the effects kicked in during the performance, it amplified it more, so yeah, we broke the stage. <laughs> We end up performing on the actual floor. That was by far the most professional production I have been a part of. Then we did the New Year show at the 7 1 3 Music Hall, which featured Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, and CeeLo Green. CeeLo Green is just a breath of fresh air. He talked with us backstage and took pictures and videos, and I got to talk to him about my music. I was just honored to be in the room. It boosted my confidence as an independent artist by showing me what I can do and how to keep doing it and make it better to get to where I ultimately want to be. It was a phenomenal experience!
Keiyana: What advice would you give to the next upcoming artist?
D. Savannah: If you are just starting, do not be so money hungry to where you want to get paid off. Use social media to post content because it is a free stage. I also suggest artists get on TikTok more. Outside of utilizing social media, do showcases. I did a lot of free showcases, and some are willing to pay $50. Use showcases as a means of practice. And then once you feel like you have perfected who you are, you put some skin in the game a bit, then you start looking for bookings and things of that sort.
Do not be afraid of that exposure. Take risks for yourselves to be seen and heard. Also, make sure you are perfecting your talent along the way through voice lessons and artist development. Take criticism from those you trust and have experience in what needs to be done. However, the biggest thing you will face is finding your lane. Once you find out what you're good at and stick with that, use the step-and-repeat method. Once people catch on, it will be way easier.
Keiyana: As we close, tell our readers where they can find you on social media and what to expect from you this year.
D. Savannah: You can find me on Instagram and TikTok @dsavannahbaby, D. Savannah on Facebook, and D. Savannah Show on YouTube. It is easier to go through my Instagram because the link in my bio will take you everywhere you need to go. This year you can expect consistency and great R&B music, which is needed. So a lot of good things are gonna be happening this year!
On behalf of Foundation First, we want to thank D. Savannah for sharing her inspiring testimony.
Stay connected with D. Savannah by clicking the link below.
YouTube: D Savannah Show