She has worked with a who’s who of modern soul and R&B—Angie Stone, Alicia Keys, Solange and on and on. How many singers and songwriters can say they’ve collaborated with Michael Jackson and Prince? Marsha Ambrosius can.
On co-writing and singing on MJ’s gorgeous 2002 track “Butterflies,” Ambrosius says, “I had written and composed part of the [song] when I was 16 or 17, about a boy working at a McDonald’s who swept the floor every day and was cute. I stood outside on the bus stop and saw him and never even learned his name, but it sparked that feeling.”
Ambrosius, who broke through as a member of Floetry and is now touring with Eric Benét, says her process changes when she’s writing for another artist, rather than for herself, but the objective stays the same: “My only goal is to get the best out of them.”
She has a new album on the way—Nyla, titled after her 5-month-old daughter, who’s also along for the ride on the current tour—and she describes the record as a milestone. Ambrosius plans to add one more track inspired by her recent travels, which included a stop in Minnesota at the headquarters of her legendary friend and collaborator.
“I just left Prince’s house, and I’m pretty inspired,” she says. “I just stood outside First Avenue with my daughter trying to explain to a 5-month-old that this is the reason we’re here right now, because I saw this as a kid and this is what I wanted to do. Prince became more than a musician, someone I looked up to and also a friend who looked down to me. He’s the reason.” Marshia Ambrosius at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, May 25.