When Bijoux Pighee takes the stage, her vocals are reminiscent of that warmth akin to a 45’s analog. She gracefully commands attention, causing you to get lost in the music no matter what she’s singing.
The Little Rock native has always had music in her life, and has been performing for as long as she can remember. “I used to put on shows for my parents on the weekend,” she said, “sometimes I would even add in acrobatics.”
From middle school through college she sang in a choir, and her early influences were R & B and pop. She was particularly fond of Bette Midler, Celine Dion, and Toni Braxton.
About ten years ago she was approached by the then-bassist for Rodney Block. “He told me he wanted to form a neoclassical jazz band and that he wanted me to be his headliner,” she said.
Thus, she began singing in and around Rock City.
One particular performance stands out to her during that time. She was at a CD release party for Rodney Block’s Outside the Box album. “I was so nervous, because I hadn’t sang for that many people in a long time … and it was in a really intimate setting and I got on the stage and sang my song and after the show people were losing it. I thought, ‘Ok, maybe I did some good,’” she said.
Since then, she’s only practiced and performed more. For Pighee, singing is often about connecting to the audience in some way. She said, “I want people to feel things. … It’s part of the reason I like doing covers because covers are memories, you remember where you were in your life when you loved a particular song.”
And while she’s planning to continue singing locally, she harbors goals of touring with someone one day as a backup vocalist – something she loves doing.
Pighee has become entrenched in the local scene, and she has a lot of good things to say about the stages she’s played and the people she’s met here.
“I think our music scene is amazing from both ends. I’ve lived in Dallas before, I gig in Memphis a little bit, and the musicians here work. It doesn’t matter what genre you play – bluegrass, rock, soul, contemporary, whatever – people out here work … and in a lot of places that’s not possible,” she explained.
As far as improving upon what we have, she wants people to remember that support is more than seeing a show. Long gone are the days of big labels like Motown and Sony discovering and developing stars.
“If you’re not buying CDs and T-shirts, sharing statuses and YouTube’s – your local artist that you think is so amazing is only going to ever be local. People who like me do that, they do share and support me – so I’m not asking for me. But if you think another local artist is amazing, the people who are going to market on a big level want to see followers behind that,” she said.
Speaking of social media, Pighee thinks we sometimes forget that at the end of the day, music is one thing – an artistic form of expression. And with the controversy surrounding Beyoncé’s Lemonade, it’s as if people forgot to take music as art in this particular case.
She said, “People immediately went speculating about what she was talking about and speculating over whether Jay-Z cheated. … I don’t think people appreciate art in more than one way. This is just a song about something real. That’s how women feel when they get cheated on, they have to leave their man. That’s it and that’s all.”
During the day, Pighee mentors high school students and helps young parents with teen pregnancy. By night, she takes the stage as often as she can.
“I love it. I feel like I don’t work … People pay me to do things I love to do. It feels great, and I’m grateful for it,” she said.
In her free time, she makes it a priority to workout, something that gives her great peace. Think weight-lifting, as she said, “My passion is picking up heavy things.”
It’s obvious that she means that in more ways than one – from music to mentoring and beyond.
These days, she enjoys listening to John Willis and is a huge fan of Joshua Asante. Plus, she has a soft spot for Big Piph. “Bib Piph is one of my favorite rappers in life. You know how everybody has that rapper who they base their life on, for me, it’s Bib Piph,” she laughed.
Pighee isn’t leaving Rock City any time soon, as she said, ““People down here love live music and I’m glad and I thank God for it everyday.”
Catch her next show at South on Main on May 13 at 10 p.m.