Marsha Ambrosius is a take-charge type of performer – and apparently for some that’s a no-no.
Despite being one of the rising chanteuses of the contemporary R&B scene, the British-born Ambrosius says her knack for being sexually aggressive in both her music and her live performances seems to make her something of an odd woman out in today’s music industry.
“I guess when you get in the industry and you are a female, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re so outspoken,’ ” says Ambrosius, 36, calling en route to Baltimore. “Well, doesn’t everyone speak like this? Doesn’t everyone speak their mind, or is everyone closed off and everything has to be so generic and substandard?”
For most of her career as a recording artist, Ambrosius has gone for it, letting listeners know she’s not afraid to disclose what she wants in a man – a romance or just a plain ol’ fling. Her 2011 solo debut “Late Nights and Early Mornings” covered all that and then some, as her silky, enticing vocals were laid out on ballads that could be erotic one minute and heartbreaking the next. She also didn’t mind getting a bit petty and vindictive, as evidenced by her popular single “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player).”
Ambrosius says she always saw being blunt as the way to go. “For me, it was never a decision,” she says. “It just wasn’t something I was supposed to think I was supposed to be, or realize I was being or acknowledging that I was being … So if I was gonna decide to make music a career, I was gonna be as outspoken and point-blank-period as I was so in life. So I’ve just continued to kind of just be who I am just through the music.”
This goes all the way back over a decade ago, when Ambrosius was one-half of the U.K. neo-soul duo Floetry. As “the Songstress,” she and spoken-word vocalist Natalie Stewart (aka “the Floacist”) released the 2002 debut “Floetic,” perhaps the baby-makingest R&B album of the last decade. It was during that time that a song Ambrosius wrote, “Butterflies,” caught the attention of Michael Jackson. The song would become one of his few 21st-century hits.
Ambrosius and Stewart split up in 2007 to pursue solo careers. (Stewart’s latest album, “Rise of the Phoenix Mermaid,” came out last week.) For those hoping that the pair will get back together, Ambrosius insists you may have to wait a few more years.
“Floetry’s still very brand-new,” she says. “You don’t just come back because 10 people want you to do it. I want 10 million to want us to do it, you know.”
Ambrosius is dispensing a lot of love on her current tour, which will make a stop at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh on Thursday. She’ll be previewing new songs from her upcoming sophomore release, “Friends & Lovers,” which is scheduled for release sometime in May.
Of course, being the dominant performer that she is, Marsha Ambrosius wants her live shows to be both sensual and sensuous for audiences. “I want you to see and feel and hear everything that you’re going to be getting,” she says.