Semaj The Poet is a California-based singer/songwriter who is very deliberate with his choices of words, hence being a poet. But under the influences of Prince, Bruno Mars, and Phil Collins, Semaj has created a refreshing feel-good sound that moves and grooves audiences of all sizes.

While he hasn’t been back here in New York since he was in his early teens singing in the choir, Semaj is still inspired by the city and uses that inspiration in his relatable lyrics and vocals that have garnered him a fan base worldwide.

The Levity Ball spoke with Semaj across the country to find out more about his words, latest single and navigating the music scene during COVID-19.

When did you know that you wanted to go into music?

My father taught me how to play the piano when I was 8 that was the starting point of my journey. I remember writing melodies even at that age. From there it went into poetry and choir learning to sing in Latin. And French. And I realized music was a way to show people my soul. I was hooked

Even though you are from the West Coast, has New York or this coast inspired your music at all?

Of course, New York and the east coast get all the seasons. There is no snow in Cali…. But seeing the changes the creativity the beauty that comes out of the east coast is amazing to watch.

With the pandemic changing the music scene, how have you been adapting? 

I literally had to do a 180. I’m an independent artist and at the time I had about 80 shows booked. That may not seem like a lot for a Bruno Mars or a Drake. But my team and I did 100 free shows the year prior to establishing our name enough to book those shows. We earned every one of them through literal blood, sweat, and tears. In a span of about 2 days, they were all canceled due to COVID closures. In a blink of an eye, all of our momentum had halted right when we were about to take off. It was a huge blow. But life isn’t about what happens it’s about what you do with your circumstances. So I got my climbing gear and started climbing again from the bottom. My team is small, but we are damn mighty.

COVID-19 has hit us New Yorkers hard since the start. What advice would you give to those struggling during these times?

Always see the glass half full. I live by the law of attraction what you think about will ultimately be drawn to you. So don’t focus on things that are out of your control. Focus on things that are in your own two hands and take it day by day

Tell us about your latest single and how it came to be during these times?

Lemonade is my newest single and I had a blast writing it! I actually wrote it in LA. The vibes of the area and the people I was around inspired me to want to make a song that made people smile.

When you come to New York yourself, what are your favorite things to do personally?

In all honesty, I haven’t been to New York since I was 14 hahaha! I came for a choir trip. I do remember the people were amazing. The vibe of the city was like a jungle. But my favorite thing was seeing the cathedral we sang in. It was BEAUTIFUL!

And final question: What do you want to be remembered for overall when people look back at you, your music, and your impact on this world?

I want people to remember the smile they had the first time they heard a Semaj The Poet song. I want them to remember how it made them feel. I want to be remembered as someone who truly cared about other people.