Growing up in a strict household in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tedra Wilson could only wear dresses that fell below her knee. Never pants.
Secular music was limited to Disney soundtracks, at most. Nearly every day, she and her three siblings spent hours praying at the local Pentecostal church with their mother and father.
But Wilson couldn't be monitored every moment, and when she had one to herself, she sat by her radio, studying the music her church could never support: rap.
"I remember tape-recording one of Foxy Brown's songs, and I would write it word for word," Wilson, 31, said seated inside a Station North cafe recently. "I would memorize those raps. Eventually, when I got to high school, I started doing my own."
Years later, Wilson is known as TT the Artist, the Baltimore-based singer/rapper/producer meshing many genres and sounds — Baltimore club, Miami bass, electronic dance music and party-rap to name a few — with infectiously energetic results. Through collaborations local and international, she has gained admirers without a record label, and with the release of her debut album this month, Wilson hopes this is the year she breaks through to her widest audience yet.
"I got into this mode where now I'm just really focusing on my sound," said Wilson, who performs Saturday at Baltimore Soundstage. "You have to get to the point where you just develop who you are and let people buy into who you are."
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