March 29, 2013
#Interview #Cameroon | Rachel Applewhite, New Bell Music VP

By her look alone, you won't believe that Rachel Applewhite (@RachApplewhite) has been doing her hustle in the Cameroonian urban scene. She is white, American,  with a background that is very far from the cultural dynamic of the Mboa. However, Miss Applewhite was repping at Mumak Records (@MumakRecords) as  co-founder and VP. And she is now building what is known as rapper Jovi's new endeavor, New Bell Music (@newbellmusic). The transition from Mumak to New Bell did not go smoothly since Jovi (@JoviLeMonstre) and Mumak's founder Jules Nya (@JulesNya) were establishing themselves as the golden duo over at Mumak. So, when the news of the separation between  the two dropped, it was horrifying! Front and center in the whole mess, Rachel Applewhite gives us her side of the story. Plus, she talks about her role in New Bell Music, her relationship with Jovi and the whole camer experience!

Who is Rachel Applewhite?

I am an optimist. A very positive person. I have a B.A. in Spanish, and an M.A. in Conflict Resolution. I like to educate myself about the world, and have worked in Bangladesh, England, India, and now Cameroon. I’m passionate about two things: making the world a better place, and supporting talented artists. I love music, art, cinema, and pretty much anything people do that pushes creativity.

Where are you from?

I’m from a very small town called Eureka Springs in Arkansas. But I grew up mostly in Little Rock, which is the capital city of Arkansas. I grew up in the Southwest part of the city, known as the “oh-nine”, because our zip code is 72209. Everyone in the city calls us that. I’m an 09er and proud of it!

What made a white girl from America get into Cameroonian urban music?

I met Jovi when I was working in India. He lived there, and we started working on a music project together. He’s my producer, and we work really well together. I was amazed at his talent and drive. When he moved back to Cameroon, I knew I wanted to keep working with him. So, I quit my job and moved to Cameroon to build a record label!

How do you like the country?

I love Cameroon. Of the different places I’ve lived, Cameroon is by far my favorite. The people in Cameroon are warm and laid back. There’s a very cool vibe to the culture.
What is your favorite thing about Cameroon beside the music?
The people and the food. I love me some ndole, plantains, corn fufu, roasted fish, huckleberry, okra, and more!

Do you believe that Cameroonians always answer to a question with a question?


Did you know people say that about us?

Ha ha, I did not know that! Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult arguing with Cameroonians! I’ll have to watch out for that and change my tactics.

You are part of Jovi's new structure New Bell Music. What can you tell us so far about the label and your role?

New Bell Music is an amazing record label. It’s an exciting time in the music industry in Cameroon. The creativity and cutting edge ideas coming out of our label, the hard work, the focus…it just astounds me how good it all is. I’m an artist with New Bell Music. I’m a songwriter, lyricist, and vocalist. Jovi is my producer and we’re working on my first album. I’m also an executive for the company. As Vice-president, my job is to make sure that we are the most professional label in the country and to push us to the international level.

Click here to check out New Bell Music on Facebook

It was a shocking news in the Camer music industry to learn that Mumak and Jovi parted ways. But you were also front and center in the drama as co-founder and Vice-president at Mumak Records. What really happened?

Well, a lot of organizations have issues in defining their vision—artistically, organizationally—it’s not easy. Eventually, if you can’t agree on that, you have to part ways. Sometimes you have to just agree to disagree. And Jovi and Jules, as close friends as they are, had to agree to disagree, and move on to make their visions come alive. Now there is just some friendly competition out there. And that’s good for the music industry in Cameroon.

Jules Nya, Mumak Records                Jovi, New Bell Music

Why did you decide to follow Jovi in this new endeavor?

Jovi is my producer. Musically, we work very, very well together. Professionally, we are on the same page. And he has been a good friend of mine for many years. Jovi is the reason I came to work in Cameroon. I mean, have you heard his album, H.I.V? He’s amazing! He brings out the best in my music.

How is your relationship with ex-partner and Mumak CEO Jules Nya?

Jules Nya is like a brother. He's even helped negotiate my bride price! Ha, ha--just kidding. Seriously, he has been my friend since the day I arrived in Cameroon. We are still friends and always will be. He is a great person and passionate about making good music. Jules is very keen on quality, and I know he’ll only put out quality music. I want nothing but success for him, and he and I will be drinking some Guinness when I get to Douala!

Since you brought up bride price, I couldn't help but wonder. Are you dating (or are married to) a Cameroonian?

Ha ha! No, not at the moment. I was dating a Cameroonian, but now I'm single and searching for the man of my dreams. Like in the chorus of Jovi's song "Hater's Coffin," I'm a big romantic.

Who is Rachel Applewhite musically?

Rachel Applewhite is Portishead meets Madonna! My music is a mix of different genres like hip hop, electronic pop, dubstep and more.

Click here to connect with Rachel Applewhite on Facebook

Have you been recording new songs. How is that working?

Well, actually, when I was living in India, I began working on my first album and recorded 7 songs for it. Then my style started changing, and I moved to Cameroon. Now artistically I'm moving in the right direction. Working in Cameroon has been a great experience, and I am writing and recording my album now.

What is the mood of your music?

The mood of my music evolves because I have been influenced by very different cultures and genres. The process is a constant evolution and it's hard to box it in one category. You can definitely expect a single out soon!

Listen to "Hater's Coffin" by Jovi featuring Rachel Applewhite. The song is from Jovi's album H.I.V. released in 2012 under MUMAK Records.

8 messages:

  1. Hum...good job missjackee!

  2. enjoying the hardwork coming from out of cameroon.

  3. All the best rachel, from the BURNM Boyz

    1. Thanks, Chavez! Big up to my BURNM boys!

  4. Love you Rachel,You can really sing!!!!!

  5. Na who them be BURN M too nor. Wa noise makers in Cameroon.

  6. If she was a black person from America would you say "she is black and from America" like you said "She is white, American"..."What made a white girl from America get into Cameroonian urban music?"
    Is she suppose to be white to like urban music? Or is her talent better than those of Cameroonians because she is white?? People don't see white or black and she does not see us that way so why do you keep highlighting her as white? She's an American with keen interest in Cameroon Urban music.

    1. Great observation...I think it is still important to recognize that race also has a very deep cultural meaning. Race in this contest was meant to bring up a cultural difference and the fact it was out of the norms. Also, maybe because I live in America I understand the difference between being white vs. black when it comes to culture not just race. However, I appreciate your comment it made me aware of things I did not even notice in this article. Thx! MissJackee



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