Songstress and survivor TaKeshia “Hollywood” Chapple talks about her journey, childhood abuse and passion for music.
Q: Where were you born and how did your family influence your path?
A: I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. I have a very innovative and creative family, so they influenced my path in many ways. First, by being an example of what hard work looks like. We were taught to work hard for the things we want – whether it be a home, a career or a new car – hard work is necessary. They also taught us the importance of love and family. My great grandparents were married for over 60 years, and no matter the hardship, we saw first-hand, that love can conquer all.
Q: What was a major turning point in your life?
A: A major turning point in my life was when I moved to New York City in 2011. After graduating from Texas Southern University, I knew that it was time to spread my wings and gain more life experience. Living in New York prepared me for the road ahead because it taught me how to tough it out. New York has extreme highs and extreme lows, so there I learned about survival and also about the grind. Everyone in New York has a hustle; from the homeless men in the street to the businessmen on Wall Street. New York taught me how to hustle and grind.
Q: When did you know you were born to write and sing?
A: I knew I was born to write when I was about 5 years old. Writing came naturally and was my first creative outlet. The only way that I knew to express myself was through writing poetry, songs or thoughts in my diary. Writing brought me peace as a child, and I felt like I was connected to something higher than myself when I would write. At the same time, at age 5, I had a knowing in my spirit that told me, “You will sing.” And my response was always, “No, I’m not.” As a child, I never wanted to sing because I knew everyone wanted to do it, and I’ve always liked to be different and in undersaturated spaces. But, after graduating high school, there was a fork in the road, and I had a choice to make: either go with what God said, or not. For me, choosing to sing was more of a destiny decision.
Q: What inspired your stage name, Hollywood?
A: Many factors influenced my stage name, Hollywood. In Shreveport, the neighborhood where I lived is named ‘Hollywood Heights,’ and all the local shops were named ‘Hollywood this’ & ‘Hollywood that.’ Also, over the years, living in Houston, while working different jobs completely unrelated to music or entertainment, people would always call me Hollywood and say, “There goes Hollywood!” or “Hey, Hollywood!” So, once I started singing and recording music in the studio, producers and artists would ask for my stage name. I didn’t have one. I never thought I’d ever need one because I never planned on singing. TaKeshia too closely resembled Keyshia Cole, who was the chart-topping singer around this time. So, I put two and two together and Hollywood just fit.
Q: Who are your artistic inspirations?
A: Growing up, I always admired Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She showed me what it was to be a politically intelligent black woman with style and grace. Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and the whole Harlem Renaissance shaped a lot of my poetry foundation. Poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks first inspired me to write down my thoughts on paper, and Maya Angelou, whose work I covet, is so significant to me because I really connect to her story and the way she shared it. I take in everything that I can from the texture of Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu’s voices. Guitarist, Jimi Hendrix is the love of my musical life. His sound was an electrifying fusion of musical styles with a political undertone like Nina Simone, whom I admire.
Q: What is something that you are most proud of?
A: I am most proud of my small business, Keshia’s Kloset, which is designed to create a safe space to connect with other abuse survivors and keep the dialogue open and going. Keshia’s Kloset is where healing and fashion meet to help us heal through retail therapy, and motivational speaking.
Q: Is there a quote or phrase that you live by?
A: “Stand in your own power” has been motivation for me because it affirms what we already know about ourselves; that we are great and we are powerful. All we have to do is be ourselves, and we’ll make it.
Q: What projects do you have coming up?
A: I am currently working on a memoir about my family upbringing in Louisiana. It will feature stories from my family members, learning their perspective on what it was like growing up in my family. I am also writing new music that reflects my growth and who I am. This will be a collection of my experiences from Louisiana to Houston to New York and back. I’ll be recording these songs soon for my upcoming EP.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: 10 years from now, I see myself as a wife and mother, serving through entertainment, motivational speaking, and activism alongside my husband. I will be a philanthropist involved in community service and helping others to spread the light and reclaim their voices.
Q: If you could give advice to your 5-year-old self, what would you tell her?
A: I would tell her to “speak up” and “tell someone.” If I would have known the emotional and psychological damage of repressed childhood trauma, I would have told someone a long time ago.
Q: Anything else you would like to mention?
A: In more recent years, founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke has been a great inspiration for me and many survivors who are still struggling to find their voice. The #MeToo movement is giving a voice to those who have been forgotten, and I am one of them, and we will not be forgotten. I am here to say “Remember Us,” and “We are here.” I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to Tarana and send lots of love and light to the #MeToo movement.
Q: How can people follow/reach you?
Instagram – @WelcometoHollywood
Facebook – WelcometoHollywoodMusic