Gaze into Salena Dabbs’ beautiful dark brown eyes, and take a slow, deep breath. Sure, she’s easy on the eyes – she’s got an exotic look and that “it” factor needed to make it in music, but can she sing? Savor that moment, and enjoy the mounting anticipation as you reach for the play button on “Heartache,” her first single.
That wicked guitar riff sneaks up on you, the tribal drum beat kicks in, and then wow… It hits you like a beautiful epiphany. That voice – it’s liberating and free, sexy and funky, soulful and honest and as real as it comes. By the time “Heartache” comes to an end, it’s a resounding “Hell Yeah she can sing!”
Salena’s modern alternative pop sound is aggressive yet vulnerable, dramatic girly-punk with a hint of pop flare. “I call my style ‘Pinkalicious Pop Rock,” Salena says, describing her sound and her stage presence.
Not too long ago, before she morphed into the exotic femme-fatale singer/songwriter she is now, Salena Dabbs was an East Coast Navy brat with a talent and musical destiny that had to be nurtured and discovered by family and by the young star-in-the-making. Salena was blessed with a musical family – her uncles were songwriters/producers, and her grandmother won ‘Amateur Night’ at the famed Apollo Theater and once sang on stage with Jackie Wilson. As a kid, Salena stumbled upon her grandmother’s record collection and was blown away by James Brown’s “Sex Machine” and the music of Teena Marie and Rick James.
It was a third grade music test that really sowed the seeds of her musical journey – she aced the test, and made a weird discovery about herself: “Even when I write or record today, I see music notes in color. To me harmony and layering notes really is like painting, and each of the colors represent a minor detail in the overall piece.”
Salena’s ‘color’ discovery is known as Synesthesia, an interesting neurological quirk that can trigger colors or even tastes and smells when hearing music. Salena considers it a blessing; one that combines well with the other musical talents she had to practice and work to perfection.
“From the age of 10, I prayed every day bartering with God to give me the gift to sing,” Salena confesses. “When I was 14, my voice went from sounding like a screeching dying dog to the beautiful texture it is today. It took a lot of hard work, practice and patience to get my voice to the way it sounds now. A lot of people didn’t believe I could sing when I first began.”
Salena practiced alone at home, slowly gaining confidence in her voice and leaving that stigma behind her for good. She mimicked Mariah and Whitney but is grateful now that she has her own sound. The discipline paid off – when she walked into her first voice lesson, she had stretched her vocal range to 3.5 octaves. Her first paying gig was at a New Year’s church event. From there, Salena landed a manager, recorded a demo and wrote songs and performed background vocals with Divine, a Billboard #1 R&B group. Salena then hooked up musically with producer/writer Toby Gad (Beyonce, Fergie).
Her next big break came working on a song titled “If You Believe” featured in the Lifetime Channel movie Against The Odds, and then recording the theme song for Alize beverages. Recently she’s also contributed vocals for a number of Hip Hop recording acts.
With her debut single “Heartache” completed, Salena –a consummate perfectionist and true DIY artist – is executive producing her debut album Salvaged Doll and will release it this summer on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.
If her first single “Heartache” seems like a playful musical tease to grab your attention, get you hooked and lusting for more, then just wait ‘til Salvaged Doll comes roaring out of your speakers! Better yet, catch her on tour this summer – Salena’s aggressive alternative pop and sexy burlesque-style live show will blow your mind in person.