met, we just jammed. I was playing some of my songs on the guitar and he would play along and we would just jam and listen to music. I came into it as a singer/songwriter. Since I was part of the band, I almost feel it was inevitable for our paths to cross whether we were working on a song together or singing a duet. I guess it evolved into, “Okay, cool. We’ve been writing some songs. Let’s get together and make this album.”
EBONY: Your first album as an independent artist was in 2009?
AA: Yes. I had my own band and they played on the album UnFresh.
EBONY: How long have you played the guitar?
AA: I’ve been playing the guitar for about four and a half years... I was self taught. I started learning by ear, and I’ve had a few lessons along the way. But I didn’t go to school for it or anything like that.
EBONY: You’ve only played for four years, yet you’re with NPG. Your learning curve must be out of this world! You’re performing with Prince and he doesn’t play when it comes to music. You better always be on top of your game.
AA: Yes, absolutely. The level of musicianship is top notch. I’ve said this before but it was really a crash course in music and in funk. I think the biggest thing that I learned, and it hit me when I joined the band, was this is serious. If you really want to do it, if you really love music and it’s a passion of yours, then you’ve got to take it seriously. And I think how I got to where I am is practice, practice, practice.
EBONY: You started as a singer/songwriter. What made you take an interest in guitar? Were you inspired by someone or is it something you always wanted to do?
AA: I wanted to put music to the words that I had been writing and the melody that I was singing. I’d say something that really pushed me to do it was my sister, because she had picked up the guitar and I have a slight competitive streak. Just a little. Just a tiny one. [She laughs.] I wanted to do what she was doing and I did. Here I am.
EBONY: You were doing your own thing before connecting with Prince. How did you guys cross paths?
AA: I put up an ad around town. I was living in Los Angeles. I had posters I put up and I said, “Local guitarist and singer/songwriter looking for work.” I had a little caricature picture of my face with an Afro and my phone number. It was really crazy. I got a phone call saying, “You have a very interesting look. We looked you up and we want to see what you can do.”
EBONY: Now everybody is going to read this and do the same thing, because most people probably dream of playing with him.
AA: You know what? You are so great, because none of that is true. [She chuckles.] That was a joke.
EBONY: I know you’re part of his camp. He loves jokes, too. But I’m thinking, “That story really sounded cool.”
AA: Didn’t it? I know.
EBONY: Seriously, how did you come to his attention? I mean, he sees aspiring artists all the time.
AA: Right. I will say I do strongly believe that when you put something out in the universe like things really come together. Someone pointed out to me that I had done an interview where they asked, “Who would you love to perform with?" And I said, “Prince.” Then I’d forgotten about it and a year later I’m on tour. But I do credit the Africa Channel, which is such a great, great channel. They are a network and they air programs that focus on Africa. They’re huge supporters of my music and they had done a special where they featured my first record. They were also covering his Los Angeles shows. So, they actually connected us.
EBONY: I don’t know if you watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” but the first season winner [Bebe Zahara Benet] was from Cameroon. Now you come along and you’re repping for Cameroon as well. When did you come over to the States?
AA: Cameroonians are taking over. [She laughs]. I came over here in 2001. So, I’ve been here about eleven years.
EBONY: Is “Andy Allo” your birth name?
AA: Why do you ask?
EBONY: People in the industry use stage names all the time, and I’m just curious if your first name is a derivative of something else.
AA: I’m very blessed. My real name is Andy. I’m actually named after my father whose name is Andrew.
EBONY: How do you plan to penetrate the industry? What will make you stand out?
AA: I would say having amazing musicians. And I think letting the music