In the realm of independent music, there exists a captivating artist whose star shines brightly not only in the realm of music but also in the classroom. Meet Destiny Stone, a sensational singer-songwriter who effortlessly blends her passion for music with her dedication as a music educator. As we celebrate Black Music Month, Destiny stands out as a true spotlight artist, captivating audiences with her soul-stirring vocals, profound lyrics, and a contagious energy that leaves everyone wanting more. With her uplifting songs, and unwavering commitment to education, she has become an inspiration to aspiring artists and students alike. Today, we have the privilege of delving deeper into the life and artistry of this exceptional talent. Check out our interview with Destiny Stone.
SFND MAG: Hi Destiny! Thanks for taking time out of your schedule for this. We’re very excited to have this interview with you. Why don’t we start off by you giving our readers a brief introduction. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background in music.
DESTINY STONE: I like to say that singing is in my blood. I am a third generation professional recording artist and I have several aunts, uncles, and cousins who are also musicians. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a musical artist that traveled the world performing my original music. I ended up graduating from Mississippi School of the Arts, a residential public high school for 11th and 12 graders, and went on to pursue a degree in Popular Music and Worship Arts from Catawba College. I’ve always been grateful to have my musical education be a combination of the “traditional” with things like piano lessons, voice lessons, and training in classical music but also learning in the cultural classroom as a Black woman from the South.
SFND MAG: We’ve had an opportunity to check out some of your music. It is very inspiring and uplifting! Who are some of you influences as a singer and songwriter?
DESTINY STONE: My biggest inspiration is India Arie. I got introduced to her music around the 5th grade and I have been a fan ever since. Now that I'm an adult, I think I gravitated to her because I saw a dark-skinned woman with natural hair who was living the life I wanted to live. She made me feel like I could have a place in the music industry by just being myself and not having to “sell out” to get to where I wanted to be. Hopefully one day BET will call me for the tribute show for her 15-20 years from now.
SFND MAG: Many of your songs are really deeply rooted in the culture. In records like “Real Black”, ‘Black Girl’ and “They’ve Got Nothing On You”, your lyrics carry powerful messages. Could you shed some light on your songwriting process and how you convey your emotions through your music?
DESTINY STONE: Since I play piano and guitar, I usually come up with the harmonic progression and melody first. Sometimes, I may create a track and get inspired to write to that as well. I like to be creative with my lyrics but I also don’t want to be too “heady” that peoplecan’t understand my messages. I like to find a happy medium between clever and relatable.
SFND MAG: Many of your songs seem to have an infectious energy and a deep sense of pride for our black heritage. Black Music Month is a celebration of the rich history and impact of African American artists. In what ways have of others that have paved the way before you impacted your artistic journey?
DESTINY STONE: Nina Simone has been an inspiration for me as well. I was introduced to her in college and I have since done research on her career and admire how she sacrificed her rising jazz career to write and perform songs about the Civil Rights Movement. She too was another example of a dark-skinned woman who had classical training in piano and decided to take a different route as a singer/songwriter to have one of the most impactful careers of the 20th century.
SFND MAG: We understand that you are also an educator as well. As a full-time teacher and artist, how do you balance your passion for music with your commitment to education?
DESTINY STONE: I was a public school music teacher for 4 years and it was full of bittersweet moments. I had to learn to make sure that I created a separation between work-life and home-life. There would be times that I would come home so drained that it started to affect my family. I eventually learned that as much as I wanted to be a superhero, I was only human and I could only do so much when it came to helping
my students be their best. I have now decided to teach piano lessons in my own studio and I currently have 4 students. I am also back in school pursuing my master’s in music education in hopes of eventually teaching at the collegiate level.
SFND MAG: Can you share any experiences that may highlight the intersection between your roles as a teacher and a musician?
DESTINY STONE: As a teacher even though it is not written in my contract, I signed up to be a role model. I think the same applies to musicians who have a fan base. Of course there is no where that says I “have” to be a role model but when I put myself out there for others to see and listen to, I will naturally garner attention. With that being said, I think it is important for me to set a realistic and positive example for anyone who sees me. I also made sure I emphasized to my students that it was possible to pursue your dreams because I was a living example of it. My students would ask me all the time am I “famous” and I would laugh and say “no”, but it made me realize that they were paying attention to me.
SFND MAG: What grade did you teach and were your students aware that you are also an artist? Were they receptive to your music?
DESTINY STONE: I taught K-5 music and I most recently taught 6-8th grade general music. During the first day of class, I introduced my middle schoolers to a little bit of my personal life and let them know that I was also a professional recording artist. Of course, their natural response would be “can we listen to some of your music”, and even though I would be super nervous, I would oblige. It always surprised me when students would come up to me and say that they’ve listened to my music and would say that they liked it. It was definitely encouraging to hear from them because kids are very honest and are not too afraid to share how they really feel.
SFND MAG: We hear that you are currently offering a fall school tour teaching students social-emotional learning through music and interactive activities. Tell us about this and how it came about?
DESTINY STONE: Yes! I was inspired by my latest single “They Got Nothing on
You” and I wanted to spread some encouragement to middle and high school students as they kick-off another school year. As a former teacher, I have seen the negative effects of social media on students mental health and confidence, and I have even been a victim of the temptation to compare myself to others, so I wanted to create a space where students could take time to think positively of themselves and name the things that they love. Often times, we are so quick to point out the negatives and find what’s wrong, but like I say in the song, we need to have a moment to remember that they got nothing on us!
SFND MAG: Many years down the line, when it is all said and done, what kind of impact do you hope to have on your former students as well as the rest of this world with your art?
DESTINY STONE: I hope people will feel hopeful when they hear my story. I’m a girl from a small town in North Mississippi with not a lot of money, but I have undeniable passion. Even when I want to give up on my dreams, there is something in me that won’t let me quit. I hope people young and old, especially Black children, can be encouraged to pursue their dreams, in whatever way that may look like. There is a space for all of us and I just want to make sure I get in my lane and shine bright for others to see.
SFND MAG: What advice do you have for your students or any aspiring artists who are looking to pursue their passions while juggling other commitments, such as a full-time job or studies?
DESTINY STONE: Take breaks. Pace yourself. Count EVERY accomplishments, even the “small” ones. You are not a robot. You are a human being, and especially in this age of social media influence, be mindful of what you consume and who you follow. If you are not being encouraging and inspired, you should probably let it go.
SFND MAG: What else can we expect from you in 2023? Is there an album or EP in the works? Perhaps music videos or visuals?
DESTINY STONE: I am working on a school tour throughout the South where I plan to use social-emotional learning through music to connect with middle and high school students. I really want it to be a space for them to reflect and boost their self-confidence. I will definitely be hitting the stage for more live performances and connecting with other artists across the country. There may also be another surprise music video dropping on my YouTube channel this year so make sure you’re subscribed *wink wink.*
SFND MAG: If you could only name one other artist that you think is So FN Dope who would it be any why?
DESTINY STONE: I would say Arsena Todd. She is a singer/songwriter and recording artist, but she is also the CEO of Dear Soul Co., a company that provides opportunities for other independent artists to grow and provide live, and may times free, entertainment for community members to enjoy.
SFND MAG: Thanks again Destiny for taking time to interview with us before you go let us know where our readers can find you on social media and where they can go to support your movement.
DESTINY STONE: You can find me on all social media platforms at “destinystonemusic,” and through my website, www.destinystonemusic.com. You can also follow the hashtag #musicmakinmama.