It’s been almost two months since New Orleans born singer/songwriter Acantha Lang has released her first-ever original single “Know Your Name,” inspired by a homeless young man in London, reflecting her thoughts on watching the daily struggle of this poor soul representing a large number of homeless people all over the world.
In her ongoing effort to promote this beautiful bluesy and heartfelt song, Acantha Lang teamed up with the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) and the New York-based music video blog NYCROPHONE to release and distribute “Know Your Name” on a global scale. The song, for which Acantha also self-produced the music video, is available on iTunes for only $0.99 and all proceeds will be donated to INSP, whose goal it is to fight homelessness and help change lives for the better.
Born in New Orleans, Acantha Lang has being told she has “one of the best voices I’ve ever heard” and received a standing ovation from one of the world’s most successful and hard to impress music moguls: Simon Cowell — a well-deserved testament to the many years of hard work she has dedicated to honing her craft. Having grown up in the rich musical landscape of New Orleans, one would think her musical journey had begun there, but it wasn’t until she moved to New York City that she found her voice.
The first few years, she was unsure about what career path she wanted to take; but all that changed when she bought her first Blues CD at a local store in Harlem and immediately felt a connection. She says, “it felt like home,” She immersed herself in the Blues. She studied the history, the music, and watched countless documentaries about Blues greats Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and others. She put together a Blues band and landed a residency every Monday night (Monday Night Blues) at the well-known supper club Harlem Grill. ‘Monday Night Blues’ quickly became one of the ‘must see’ events in the city. Acantha’s unleashed energy on stage was an amalgamation of the raw Bluesy tone of Tina Turner, the Rock Soul of Janis Joplin, and James Brown, and the night was chronicled on BET, UPN 9, New York 1 News, Time Out New York, and the prestigious Crain’s Business Journal.
After her stint in Harlem, Acantha would find herself performing at one of the hottest clubs in the country, The Box in New York and London. She recently took over the highly respected position as MC of The Box show and is currently hosting The Box London (featured in the September issue Vogue UK). The experience of being able to perform 5 nights a week in front of an audience, which includes an array of A-listers, has fine-tuned her already considerable skills.
Acantha has performed in Africa, France, Dubai, French Guiana, China, Russia, and throughout Europe and has been heralded as a force to be reckoned with by luminaries such as Sting, Axl Rose, Jude Law and Billionaire George Soros to name a few.
Although Blues music has had a major impact on Acantha’s sound, she credits everything she listens as having had an affect on her musical development in some way. Pointing out Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger as some of her biggest influences, Acantha Lang is currently working on her first EP.
Below is an interview with her about her first original song and self-produced video, “Know Your Name.”
What inspired you to write Know Your Name?
The song “Know Your Name” was written about a young homeless man, addicted to drugs, who caught my attention near my apartment the first month I moved to London. I literally saw him everyday on different streets and at different times of the day. So much that I felt it wasn’t a coincidence. I began to wonder what his story was, where he was from, how did he get to where he is today, etc. The phrase “know your name” kept popping up in my head. Little did I know, I would soon be in a songwriting session with the very gifted singer/songwriter Mayaeni from Detroit, who I met the week prior at an event in London. She had also been inspired recently after she read a book about a homeless guy and his cat “A Street Cat named Bob.” A few chords and a few hours later, “Know Your Name” was written.
Why did you choose London as the location of the video?
I fell in love with this song. Every time I perform it, I get very emotional. When I made the decision to shoot a video for this song, I knew it HAD to be shot in London since it was inspired here.
Who filmed the video? How did you find the actor for the lead role? Did you have castings for the other actors?
The video was filmed by a friend of mine, an up-and-coming cinematographer/artist Adam Rogers who then suggested his friend, a talented local actor named Xavier Jones Barnett to play the main character. He agreed to play the part when he heard the song and the message. When I met Xavier for the first time, I knew instantly he would be perfect for the role. The other roles were played by random people walking by who we asked to play the part needed.
Did it cost a lot of money to produce the video?
Adam and Xavier agreed to do the video for free. I spent money on Xavier’s wardrobe and a few dinners after filming wrapped. I didn’t have to spend money on an editor because I did it myself and my good friend Roberto Serrini in NYC did the color correction for free. I also did my own hair/makeup and styling. So the answer is no. :)
Did the events in the video really take place?
We recreated as many scenes as possible as close to how they occurred.
In what way do you hope this song can affect/help homeless people?
I’d like people to be a little more conscious and aware of their surroundings, questioning who these homeless people are or used to be in their past. I’d love to encourage listeners to take a second to provide a friendly word, a smile, a small donation for those in need.
How can I purchase and share this song to support the cause?
Download “Know Your Name” now for only $0.99 and help get half of all proceeds donated to the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), helping homeless people all over the world to get back on their feet. Tell your friends about this important cause and send them to www.knowyourname.org to find out more and to purchase the song. Let’s get this viral!
Acantha wrote this song and produced the video for it to raise awareness and encourage people to care for on another more and help each other. You can be part of this movement. Change lives through music… Find it in your heart.