Interview with TENELLE “TEN” | I am Reveling in the Power of Clarity Through my Faith

At times, life may seem to bring us experiences that we would have preferred not to encounter. After a while, we often look back at those situations, and we recognize the value of living them.

Regardless of what is your choice of belief, think about the clarity of defining what your life preferences are when you experience something less wanted; the powerful opportunity to practice a more unconditional state of being, and trust in your own faith.

There is never a problem without a solution and your focus is key to allow yourself to see all opportunities. Owning the emotions you feel and deliberately gravitating towards those feelings that resonate with the outcome you desire, will show you the path.

Having faith is knowing that we are taking care of and always look forward to the evidence of that.

Artist Tenelle “Ten” Christine Luafalemana, who is about to launch her next EP and documentary, both holding the same name This is X, says: “ One of my favorite Bible scriptures reads, ‘For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead’ -James 2:26. I believe that life works in full circles and FAITH is the key to having an optimistic mindset. 

In this uplifting interview with Ten, you will be inspired by her artistic expressions and how having Faith has empowered her to trust in her life’s journey.


photography by Phyras Men | graphic artist Vanessa Su’a

INTRODUCTION

  • Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Tenelle?

My name is Tenelle Christine Luafalemana also known as “Ten” to many. Growing into the woman that I am today, I’ve acquired the heart of my Father and the hands of my Mother; meaning my mother’s work ethic and my father’s willingness to serve others. I have a mixed medley of traits between both of my parents. I’m also the eldest of seven children and I love all of my brothers and sisters. The reality of trial, error, and leading by example has shaped me into the person that I am today which ultimately led me to music…. and music saved my Life.

  • How does being a Samoan American who grew up in LA shape your sense of self?

I am both Samoan and African-American. Growing up in LA has been what I like to say, “A Beautiful Chaos.” I know that life will always have its “peaks and valleys” however, I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to stay focused on the positive. My father’s family originated from the beautiful island of Samoa whilst my mother’s family derived from Shreveport, LA. This led both of them to a place where I like to call home… Carson, CA. This is where my mother learned to balance work-family life and where my father gained respect in the streets and his discernment in individuals.

ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

  • All human beings seek to accomplish more; there is always a new idea, a new desire, a new dream. What is your definition of success at this moment, and how do you feel your way through to be fulfilled?

At the moment, my definition of success is having the ability to create music full- time. Unfortunately, a majority of artists do not have the option nor means to do so, which is why I’m grateful to have a team of BEST FRIENDS that support and believe in me. I am an independent, self-managed and self-funded female R&B- Soul-Reggae artist with no regrets. I’m currently working on three projects, however, primarily focusing on the release of my EP titled, This Is X.

  • The entertainment industry, like any other professional field, is considered competitive; there are talented performers who thrive and others who do not. In your own experience, how does faith in yourself sync with your beliefs to shape the likelihood of success?

I’m a huge believer in faith. Between life and music— I’ve always in some sort of way been “shelved” or “put on the back burner” but have come to the realization that all of the setbacks in life have only prepared me for what was and is to come. Faith is what made me discern others’ true intentions and allowed me to understand that I am different. I was raised to live by the motto— “Never me, Always us,” and most importantly to always keep my faith in God. One of my favorite Bible scriptures reads, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” -James 2:26. I believe that life works in full circles and FAITH is the key to having an optimistic mindset. Within the entertainment industry, we have to protect our mind, body and soul. I’m excited to see where God has yet to take me.

photography by Jeff Ariola

MUSIC

  • Like every human being, we feel our way through life clarifying our preferences and desires. How has this journey been for you when it comes to embracing your love for music?

I am still on a journey and continue to learn new things about myself every day. My love for music is shaped by the many things that I’ve seen, learned, endured, and overcame. There are some days where I don’t feel like creating at all and other days where I can create until the sun comes up. I like to draw ideas from past experiences and the emotions that I feel when I see someone in love or pain. We are all on a journey and every day is a brand new journey!

  • What is the core essence behind your new music album and the documentary, both holding the same name, This is X?

The reason why I titled both my EP and documentary, This is X is because I am proud of the artist that I’ve become. My previous album, ‘For The Lovers’ charted #1 on Billboard under ‘Top Reggae Albums’ which was a heart-felt and successfully curated piece of art. During that time, I was masking my reality of pain and hurt with the only thing that I knew could get me through — LOVE. I was at the lowest of lows and had a lot of ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ emotions that caused a lot of distress. I realize now that I had to go through the heartache to understand how to handle the pain in order to share love through my music again. With this new project, I truly feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and it feels damn good to be happy again! This Is X simply represents me, TENELLE CHRISTINE LUAFALEMANA. A girl from Carson, CA with a dream of using my voice to move nations and bring hope to people.

  • This is X is composed of seven songs, a project that you shared with your sister who raps. How does the feeling of co-creating with someone you are deeply connected with influenced the final result of this album?

It’s AMAZING! I’m really excited to introduce my little sister ‘Ryn’ to all of my music supporters. Ryn is the second eldest sibling out of the seven of us. Who is a better candidate to experience and reap the benefits of music with than your sister? Co-creating with my sister has definitely been a great experience. We’ve completed an entire EP titled, “TEN X RYN” anticipated for release this summer 2020 and I cannot wait for the world to hear her!

  • Throughout your career, you have done many collaborations with other artists. What have you learned about yourself when you co-create with others?

I absolutely love to co-create! I personally feel like when you create with others, it brings out the best of both individuals. Having the ability to bounce ideas back and forth off of another person— whether it’s though experiences, lyrics, melodies, or concepts, is my favorite part of the creative process. I’ve been writing and working on vocal arrangements with my producers, Benny Briggs and Kerry Clisby who are both a huge blessing to me. We have so much in store and I can’t wait to collaborate with other new artists and producers.

  • You define your music style as R&B-infused reggae-pop. As you have personally expanded your inner awareness, how do you feel your music has evolved so far?

My genre has always been R&B-Reggae from the start and has evolved immensely. Now, my music has a little bit of everything including R&B, Reggae, Pop, Country, Soul and Gospel. With my music being on high rotation in Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and throughout the Polynesian community, I am and will always be forever grateful for the platforms/stages that I’ve been able to perform on. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to make a living doing what I love most, Music. With the aspect of evolving, I have a goal in mind of crossing over into mainstream when the time and opportunity presents itself.

  • What emotions do you feel the moment you step onto the stage, when you connect with the audience, and the energy of your voice and your body merges with the music flowing through you, expanding to the public and coming back to you?

Most people tell me, “When you’re on stage — it feels like I’m family.” I am no Beyonce by any means however, one of my strongest traits as a performer is interacting with the crowd. I love involving the audience because of the reaction that I get when I hit certain notes. Oh! I almost forgot, my ULTIMATE favorite is calling out the fans who aren’t paying attention too—LOL. I get emotional(in a good way) when I see the crowd singing the lyrics to my songs and this makes me feel complete.

  • Expressing through music, singing, and songwriting, telling your story is always reflected in what you do. How do you stay authentic and true to the whole of who you are without focusing on what others want or expect from you?

Jesus. I am far from perfect and never will be, however, God truly orders my steps. Don’t get me wrong— I have and will stray away at times but I’ve never really cared about people’s perceptions about me. Why? Because I know that my story is already written and God holds the pen.

  • Are there any other exciting projects you are currently working on?

I am excited to announce the release of my new project, This Is X because it will be the first project that I will be releasing hence leaving my record label and going independent. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m also working on a mainstream project due for release sometime this year. I’ve always had a passion for R&B/ Pop and I feel that there is never “the right time” to release music that plays on the radio. So I thought to myself, “Why not do everything that I want to do in life right now?”

photography Nick Teofilo

GOOD SOUL

  • Are you connected to any humanitarian cause you would like to mention?

It is part of the Samoan heritage to help, tend and give. These are all characteristics that are rooted deeply in my DNA. I’ve joined forces with some of my best friends who are also independent artists and created a company called Heartist Movement— representing Art, Music and Creativity. We created Heartist Movement mainly to showcase the “Unseen talent” who either don’t have a platform to show their skills or maybe just need a helping hand getting into the field of which their heart desires. Our main goal is to inspire and elevate the next generation of creatives in our community to come.

CLOSE UP

  • The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is The Essence of a Joyful Living. How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?

Joy, happiness and love are everything to me. We will never know the true meaning of joy if we’ve never experienced hurt. I believe that I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate joy or love if it weren’t for the hardships that I’ve overcome. If you have Joy, you lack nothing.

  • When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?

I believe that we all have the capability to be, do and have anything that we want but I also believe that our wants don’t always align with what God has in store for us. All in all— I’m excited to see where he takes me in this next chapter of my life.


Connect with TEN on Instagram
Header image photography by Jeff Ariola