Few people can say they kicked off their music careers with a duet with Stevie Wonder. Porscha Parker, a pop-rock artist born in South Central, Los Angeles, sang “That’s What Friends are For” with the R&B icon at a Harper’s Bazaar Gala when she was only six years old.
But Parker began singing far before her early star-studded opening act. “My mom used to joke that I was born screaming in F-sharp,” Parker said in an email.
Throughout her youth, Parker performed in talent shows across Europe. “I began by listening to the radio and singing in the car with the windows up — that way I didn’t really worry about what people thought of me. As I grew older, I left the windows down and didn’t care who was listening. I sang out loud to every genre I heard, then collected every album cover insert, just to see how every album was made,” said Parker. “You gotta start somewhere.”
As a teenager, Parker became the first African-American figure skater in the Disney on Ice production. Since then, she has performed alongside acts like the Temptations, Freda Payne and the B-52′s, honing her singing and stage skills.
In 2002, Parker — who speaks Spanish, Chinese and German — put her linguistic skills to use in her work as a translator for the Special Olympics. That same year, she also received the NAACP “American Dream Scholarship” to study acting at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Most recently, Parker finished her debut album P.E.A.C.E with Grammy award-winning producer Jim Wirt.
In her spare time, Parker keeps it low key. “My idea of fun is making a good playlist on my iPod, hitting the road, and wherever I end up is where I’m going,” says Parker. “While I’m there, I like to read, draw in my sketchpad, write a song and just spend genuine time getting to know myself.”
You should get to know Parker too! Check out some of her songs and photos below.
I Miss You
Waiting for My Life to Start
Where are you from and what was it like growing up there?
Parker: "I was a military kid and grew up in the United States and Europe. Originally I was born in South Central, Los Angeles and later my family was stationed on a military base in Germany.
For the majority of my life I grew up in different cities alongside several cultures at an early age. Our field trips were awesome. Camping trips in Italy, visiting Lennon's tomb in Moscow, and biking in Spain. It was like the ultimate European history class."
When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician and how did you get started?
Parker: "My mom used to joke that I was born screaming in F sharp, so I guess you could say since birth! I began by listening to the radio and singing in the car with the windows up, that way I didn't really worry about what people thought of me.
As I grew older I left the windows down and didn't care who was listening. I sang out loud to every genre I heard then collected every album cover insert just to see how every album was made. You gotta start somewhere."
If you could tour with any two musicians or bands in the world, which ones would you choose?
Parker: "Wow. That's a hard question to answer. Prince and My Morning Jacket."
Do you have any special pre-performance rituals?
Parker: "Most of performing is highly psychological so on any given day you can feel any range of emotions. My pre-performance ritual is a simple mantra to myself, 'It doesn't matter what you choose, your choice to be great is enough.'"
What's your favorite candy?
Parker: "My favorite candy is a European chocolate egg called 'Kinder Surprise.' They're like Europe's version of the Crackerjack box.Chocolate and toys? Good deal."
What do you do for fun?
Parker: "My idea of fun is making a good play list on my iPod, hitting the road, and wherever I end up is where I'm going. While I'm there I like to read, draw in my sketchpad, write a song and just spend genuine time getting to know myself."
What's next for you?
Parker: "Everything that I have ever done has led to something unexpected but great and it's always taken me by surprise so I guess we'll see what happens."