Local musician to bloom in Ferndale

By |2006-10-05T09:00:00-04:00October 5th, 2006|Entertainment|

Sista Otis
8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Oct. 7
Xhedos Cafe, Ferndale
Tickets: $12 on sale now at Xhedos
Online: http://www.sistaotis.com

Sista Otis doesn’t own a home. Or an apartment. Not even a trailer.
That’s because the singer-songwriter genre-fuser has been traveling on her “Coast to Coast Good Time Revolution Tour” for nearly a year. She still has two more to go.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m living in this constant Elvis movie,” says Otis, 33, from her parents’ place in South Carolina. “… He’s a traveler and he shows up and he’s at a diner somewhere and he ends up playing for people and singing for everybody. And then he gets a job somewhere, somehow. That’s my life.”
That’s why, when Otis returns home to Michigan in the beginning of October, it would be a tease for her to visit the new Ikea in Canton.
“I don’t have any place to put furniture,” she laughs.
For a woman who just crawled out of bed – and smoked a cigarette and is sipping Green Tea – Otis’ ramblings about her cross-country trek are thorough; her voice upbeat. And it’s clear that her month-long trip to New Orleans, where she sang gospel music at a renovated Baptist church, has left an impression on her.
“It’s time to come together now,” she insists. “We need to put all of our differences aside.”
From her experience as a volunteer, and seeing firsthand the devastation Hurricane Katrina left in New Orleans, Otis birthed several tunes, which she’s been performing at gigs in the South.
Through various tour stops in Nashville and Atlanta, sometimes spending up to a month in a city, Otis has been able to inhale the cities’ sights and meet new faces. “If I expect people to take interest in me and what I do, I have to take an interest in them and what they do.”
For Otis, performing her original mix of rock-hip hop and gospel rhythms is something she doesn’t take for granted. Other artists have questioned her tactic of making money with her art and she tells them she only has one complaint: “It should be more (money).”
She’s certainly come a long way from frolicking in the fields behind a Catholic church near her home in Westland.
“My parents didn’t like me playing in the woods,” she recalls. But that didn’t change Otis’ rebellious ways. “I’d like to think (I still am),” she continues.
She also doesn’t need to chug some booze before hitting the stage like she did at the Gotham City Cafe in Ferndale when she was 21.
“I got drunk as a skunk,” she says. “I didn’t share my art with anybody (at that time). I kept it all to myself in my journal. … I was very introverted. So I was drinking and drinking.”
After she realized she was using her drunken behavior as an excuse to not perform her poetry to the packed house, she told herself, “You better get your name on that list and start drinking coffee now.”
And she did.
She’s more confident during her live performances now, and when she’s on the road she doesn’t get homesick. “If I’m homesick I’m always wanting to go back home and not work, if I’m not working I’m not progressing,” she says.
Much like Otis’ genre-hopping music on her 2004 studio debut “Worldwide Release,” she also favors all the different colors of the palette on a sexual level.
“I’m a constantly blooming flower,” she says. ” I’ve loved the ladies since I was a little girl. … Every once in a while there’s a man that comes in my life that floats my boat. I can’t deny my history. I don’t ever judge myself. I just go with whatever is happening in the moment. I’ll be blooming for all of my life, a petal at a time.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.