Hellobeautiful Featured Video

Singing and songwriting were her hobbies since the age of seven, but she got her big break in 2006 while working with her dream producer, Rodney Jerkins. He told her he saw something special in her and the songs they worked on together ended up on Beyoncé’s album.  Makeba has written or co-written for everyone from Rihanna to Mariah Carey, Michelle Williams, Jessica Simpson, Fantasia, The Black Eyed Peas, Danity Kane, Avant and Solange Knowles. Most recently, she co-wrote “Ave Maria” on Beyoncé’s latest “I am… Sasha Fierce.”

HelloBeautiful recently had the opportunity to speak to Makeba and here is what she had to say:

HB: Growing up, what musicians were you influenced by?

I was heavily influenced by Super Producer/Writer/Arranger DeVante Swing of 90’s R&B group Jodeci. Reading the credits in all the Jodeci albums seeing that Devante wrote and produced this music that I Loved, inspired me to want to write songs that affected people in such a deep emotional way, the way I was affected.

Heavily influenced by Andre Harrell and the artists and Movement of the Uptown era. I was very inspired by the story, the ascent and the music of Sean Puffy Combs and his newly birthed Bad Boy Records Movement.

I was greatly moved and inspired by the music and lyrics of Sade growing up too. Not only was she a singer but an incredible songwriter. The sincerity in her lyrics showed me that songwriting is nothing more than your personal letter of feelings and emotions that you allow the world to see.

Also LOVED the music of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They made timeless classics that are still around today. Janet Jacksons “Come Back To Me” and New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain” are two of my all time favorite songs.

HB: Out of all the people you’ve worked with, who was your favorite?

I have fun with all the artists I work with.

Working with Beyonce is like writing songs at a slumber party with your cousin or at a family reunion while making up dance routines and having girl talk for hours. (Beyond Fun) working with Rihanna is like working with your “bad azz” little big sister who’s younger than you but teaches you new things all the time.

(Beyond Wild and Fun)

HB: Who do you listen to? Who’s on your ipod?

Love listening to Sade, John Mayer, Prince, Beyonce, currently Nikki Minaj and Souljah Boy

HB: As a songwriter, you are behind the scenes, what made you decide to come to the forefront?

In the legendary words of Jay-Z “Its All about Progression” We must continue to push ourselves to new levels and higher heights.

HB: Obviously you have a hectic schedule, how do you find time to take care of yourself and your looks?

I believe in balance of the mind, body and soul. Each part of YOU requires equal attention. It is in Praise and Worship of God that I Thank him in this way of not making work my TOTAL focus. So I follow a healthy diet, read lots of books on health and wellness and make the gym my priority. Beauty comes from the inside out so I take time to keep my thoughts on the Beautiful, Blissfull things in life. I make it a priority to pray, meditate and do things that make me happy. Everything is in Gratitude and praise of Gods continued goodness.

Makeba is putting the finishing touches on her own Darkchild produced song which will be the lead single from a new compilation called The Writers.

We’re sure there’s a lot more to come from this talented young lady!!

Beyonce opens cosmetology center in Brooklyn

GALLERY: Rihanna armed with spikes in Berlin

More From HelloBeautiful