Highly Favored: The Rise of Evvie McKinney

You only have to spend a few minutes talking to Evvie McKinney to know that she is extremely blessed and grounded. When she opens her mouth to sing, you’ll know that she has the kind of talent that that crosses barriers and makes people take notice. The Memphis born, signer is the first winner of Fox’s new reality competition The Four, judged by industry heavy weights P. Diddy, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled. It’s a beautiful fall Saturday when she rings my line so that we can discuss her being the first winner, her work with Megan Trainor and Diddy and how she’s adjusting to her new-found fame.

Evvie: Hi, is this Kontrol Magazine?
DArtagnan: Yes, it is.
Evvie: Hi this Evvie (EVh-vee).
DArtagnan: How are you?
Evvie: I’m good, I’m just making my morning tea.
We both laugh.
DArtagnan: Let me start off by saying congratulations. You’re the first winner of The Four. Do you feel like there is a lot of weight on your shoulders has the first winner?
Evvie: Well, I wouldn’t call it weight…. let me say that for that show I set the bar high, unlike other shows where they have people lined up. The Four really is just what it says, a battle for stardom. The first season was only six episodes and I came in on the fifth. I just blew them away, you don’t have to be there long if you can just prove to the audience and the judges that you want it, that you’ll fight for it you’ll win.
DArtagnan: You mentioned other shows, which leads me into my next question, your brother Gideon was on American Idol, was that an influence into you choosing this platform?
Evvie: Yes, my brother was on season 5 in 2005, around that time my father was very sick and dying, for me being the youngest of seven I just remember so vividly, he was on TV and we were rooting for him. He was tearing it up. I was around 7 or 8 years old, seeing him on TV made me want to be on TV. A lot of people don’t know that before The Four I was on tour with a lot of soul and blues singers like Bobby Rush, William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite. Baby, God has blessed me.
DArtagnan: Do you speak any other languages? If you don’t is there any, you’d like to learn?
Evvie: No, not really. I would like to learn Spanish. I speak a little. You know the regular, Hola Como esta? It’s funny cause in high school I took Spanish and passed with straight A’s, but now I can’t speak any of it.
DArtagnan: Maybe you’re just out of practice and you need someone around to refresh it. If you do Spanish music it can open, you up to a whole new market.
Evvie: It sure can, just as long as I have someone in the studio to make sure I’m saying it right.
DArtagnan: Now that you’re here you’ve won the show, you’re working with Diddy and Megan, do you feel like you have arrived, or do you feel like you still have more to do?
Evvie: I feel like I have arrived. I’m going to say this, sometimes arriving to the party is one of the highlights of the night, but once you get in the party there are so many people and faces. I feel like the Lord has so much, so many things that he’s doing for me. God is so good to me, it’s almost like I dreamed this because he already showed me what was going to happen. Nothing has fulfilled me like performing.
DArtagnan: So, this is a two-part question. Who is your musical inspiration? And who is your personal inspiration?
Evvie: Oohwee, oh my goodness that is a good question. Ok so, I’m going to start with the second question. Myself, I am my personal inspiration, because I know where I could go, and I know where I am right now. My musical inspiration is Aretha Franklin. How I love Beyoncé, how I love Lauryn Hill, how I love Selena, how I love Mariah Carey. Aretha was bad, she was a force that made a way for all of us. When I was a little girl and I would here her sing “Precious Lord take my Hand”, I would just stop, she was born in Memphis like me. It was like she was the trumpet of the Lord, she would have this spirit in her voice, her and Tina Turner.
DArtagnan: How has it been working with Diddy, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled?
Evvie: It has been a gift, for me it’s a billion-dollar experience. Working with them is a gift from God. Christmas is coming up, but I have been in a Christmas high since last December, January when the first season aired. Diddy is an expert music mogul and I’ve set beside him at dinner. When I work with him, I learn so much, he told me “If you’re in it for the real reasons I’ll show you the way to do it. Don’t let everybody get in your ear.” I was in the studio with Megan, and I wrote two amazing songs with her. You know she is Pop music. She’s good pop with a positive message. The way she works is so boss. I haven’t worked with DJ Khaled yet, because he’s been on tour with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but I’m looking forward to it.
DArtagnan: So, what can we expect from your album?
Evvie: If we do it right, if my team and my label, if we do it right, I might have a lot of everything. I think I’m going to do a lot of thing that people wouldn’t think a black girl would do. A black soul singer.
DArtagnan: What’s your favorite song of all time?
Evvie: Oh, my goodness my favorite song, that’s a good question. What makes the song my favorite?
DArtagnan: You can just listen to it repeatedly and never get tired of it. It doesn’t have to be just one category it could be your favorite gospel song or pop song whatever you like.
Evvie: Ok my favorite song would have to be “Respect” by Aretha I could listen to it over and over but wait “Cool” by Cool and the Gang, but then there’s “Kiss” by Prince, or “Working Day and Night” by Michael Jackson.
DArtagnan: Is there another artist that you’d like to do a duet with?
Evvie: I’d like to do a duet with John Legend and possibly Drake or Chris Brown. Even if it’s only on the hook.
DArtagnan: I think a duet with John Legend would be amazing, he has a very soulful voice just like yours. Ok, final question and this one is just for fun. Aside from your phone and your lip gloss what else is in your purse?
Evvie: My Airpods, a bottle of water, some Now or Laters, my cards. Do you know what Now or Laters are?
DArtagnan: Of course, they’re the best candy in the world.
Evvie: Yes, they are. She laughs

 

You only have to spend a few minutes talking to Evvie McKinney to know that she is extremely blessed and grounded. When she opens her mouth to sing, you’ll know that she has the kind of talent that that crosses barriers and makes people take notice. The Memphis born, signer is the first winner of Fox’s new reality competition The Four, judged by industry heavy weights P. Diddy, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled. It’s a beautiful fall Saturday when she rings my line so that we can discuss her being the first winner, her work with Megan Trainor and Diddy and how she’s adjusting to her new-found fame.

 

Evvie: Hi, is this Kontrol Magazine?

DArtagnan: Yes, it is.

Evvie: Hi this Evvie (EVh-vee).

DArtagnan: How are you?

Evvie: I’m good, I’m just making my morning tea.

We both laugh.

DArtagnan: Let me start off by saying congratulations. You’re the first winner of The Four.  Do you feel like there is a lot of weight on your shoulders has the first winner?

Evvie: Well, I wouldn’t call it weight…. let me say that for that show I set the bar high, unlike other shows where they have people lined up. The Four really is just what it says, a battle for stardom. The first season was only six episodes and I came in on the fifth. I just blew them away, you don’t have to be there long if you can just prove to the audience and the judges that you want it, that you’ll fight for it you’ll win.

DArtagnan: You mentioned other shows, which leads me into my next question, your brother Gideon was on American Idol, was that an influence into you choosing this platform?

Evvie: Yes, my brother was on season 5 in 2005, around that time my father was very sick and dying, for me being the youngest of seven I just remember so vividly, he was on TV and we were rooting for him. He was tearing it up. I was around 7 or 8 years old, seeing him on TV made me want to be on TV. A lot of people don’t know that before The Four I was on tour with a lot of soul and blues singers like Bobby Rush, William Bell, Charlie Musselwhite. Baby, God has blessed me.

DArtagnan: Do you speak any other languages? If you don’t is there any, you’d like to learn?

Evvie: No, not really. I would like to learn Spanish. I speak a little. You know the regular, Hola Como esta? It’s funny cause in high school I took Spanish and passed with straight A’s, but now I can’t speak any of it.

DArtagnan: Maybe you’re just out of practice and you need someone around to refresh it.  If you do Spanish music it can open, you up to a whole new market.

Evvie: It sure can, just as long as I have someone in the studio to make sure I’m saying it right.

DArtagnan: Now that you’re here you’ve won the show, you’re working with Diddy and Megan, do you feel like you have arrived, or do you feel like you still have more to do?

Evvie: I feel like I have arrived. I’m going to say this, sometimes arriving to the party is one of the highlights of the night, but once you get in the party there are so many people and faces. I feel like the Lord has so much, so many things that he’s doing for me. God is so good to me, it’s almost like I dreamed this because he already showed me what was going to happen. Nothing has fulfilled me like performing.

DArtagnan: So, this is a two-part question. Who is your musical inspiration? And who is your personal inspiration?

Evvie: Oohwee, oh my goodness that is a good question. Ok so, I’m going to start with the second question. Myself, I am my personal inspiration, because I know where I could go, and I know where I am right now. My musical inspiration is Aretha Franklin. How I love Beyoncé, how I love Lauryn Hill, how I love Selena, how I love Mariah Carey. Aretha was bad, she was a force that made a way for all of us. When I was a little girl and I would here her sing “Precious Lord take my Hand”, I would just stop, she was born in Memphis like me. It was like she was the trumpet of the Lord, she would have this spirit in her voice, her and Tina Turner.

DArtagnan: How has it been working with Diddy, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled?

Evvie: It has been a gift, for me it’s a billion-dollar experience. Working with them is a gift from God. Christmas is coming up, but I have been in a Christmas high since last December, January when the first season aired. Diddy is an expert music mogul and I’ve set beside him at dinner. When I work with him, I learn so much, he told me “If you’re in it for the real reasons I’ll show you the way to do it. Don’t let everybody get in your ear.” I was in the studio with Megan, and I wrote two amazing songs with her. You know she is Pop music. She’s good pop with a positive message. The way she works is so boss. I haven’t worked with DJ Khaled yet, because he’s been on tour with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but I’m looking forward to it.

DArtagnan: So, what can we expect from your album?

Evvie: If we do it right, if my team and my label, if we do it right, I might have a lot of everything. I think I’m going to do a lot of thing that people wouldn’t think a black girl would do. A black soul singer.

DArtagnan: What’s your favorite song of all time?

Evvie: Oh, my goodness my favorite song, that’s a good question. What makes the song my favorite?

DArtagnan: You can just listen to it repeatedly and never get tired of it. It doesn’t have to be just one category it could be your favorite gospel song or pop song whatever you like.

Evvie:  Ok my favorite song would have to be “Respect” by Aretha I could listen to it over and over but wait “Cool” by Cool and the Gang, but then there’s “Kiss” by Prince, or “Working Day and Night” by Michael Jackson.

DArtagnan: Is there another artist that you’d like to do a duet with?

Evvie: I’d like to do a duet with John Legend and possibly Drake or Chris Brown. Even if it’s only on the hook.

DArtagnan: I think a duet with John Legend would be amazing, he has a very soulful voice just like yours. Ok, final question and this one is just for fun. Aside from your phone and your lip gloss what else is in your purse?

Evvie: My Airpods, a bottle of water, some Now or Laters, my cards. Do you know what Now or Laters are?

DArtagnan: Of course, they’re the best candy in the world.

Evvie: Yes, they are. She laughs

 

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