Someone Famous Came to Our School and You Didn’t Even Know It, Part Two

Learn more about Kamilah Marshall, Broadway actress, Vocalist, and Taylor Swift’s background singer


Before Christmas Break, I had the privilege to sit down with Kamilah Marshall and ask her a few questions about her life and career. This is a continuation of that feature, so be sure to read Part One if you haven’t already.

On top of her musical influences, where the previous installment ended, I asked about some of the famous people she’s worked with as well. Her response? Bette Midler (in Hocus Pocus), Matthew Morrison (from Glee), Taylor Swift, Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake, and many more. She also just opened for the Rolling Stones with her band, Ghost Hounds, and that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Kamilah’s band

For my next question, I asked her if the direction of her life ever surprises her. “Ever-y-day,” she answered. “Everyday. I… I am a spiritual person and I believe that the plan has already been laid out for me before I even got here… I do believe it’s funny that what I set out to do was Broadway and somehow it’s like I touched Broadway and just kept going into this thing. At some point, I didn’t have any real designator and I never said, ‘Oh, I wanna be a popstar’ or ‘I wanna make records’ or ‘I wanna…’ I just wanted to go to Broadway and be successful at what I loved doing and so it’s taken a lot of twists and turns and it’s surprising every single day. I never thought I would be doing what I’m doing now EVER. I thought I would be on SNL, but I thought I would be one of the comedians, you know? It’s surprising in a great way and I kinda just let God do it and I’m here for the ride… you can’t plan it, it’s probably not gonna go that way… take it as it comes.”
She also had some advice for highschoolers wanting to pursue a career in music. “Follow your heart and try not to judge yourself along the way, because making music is something that can really only be from your heart, you know? If it’s authentic and true and coming from you, it’s just gotta be from your heart. She told me that artists”tend to get so caught up in what other people think and [say to themselves] ‘is it good enough?’ and ‘I can do better.’” When this happens, “you get stunted and you’re not putting music out because you’re insecure and this person’s better and this person can sing like this and I can’t sing like… that’s just all a distraction. It’s just about mak[ing] what you make and put[ting] it out and then [you] keep going and keep creating and it will just gradually get better and better and better and better just from you continuing to create.”

Follow your heart and try not to judge yourself along the way”

— Kamilah

She then elaborated on this feeling. “I made a record a hundred and three years ago and it was the first time that I was ever writing music. I didn’t know how to write songs and I just did the project… When I listen to it now, I’m 10 times a better singer than that and 10 times a better songwriter than that. There was so much about it for a little while that was making me itch, like ‘oh god really? and that’s on the internet?’ but there’s something special about listening to it now and going… that was authentically who I was and what I had to say at that time and I’m better now and it has to live there and I had to do that to get to here… Don’t judge it and don’t let anybody tell you you can’t. That’s for everybody, that’s not [just] for artists.”

Kamilah’s First Album

Kamilah also said that she has been trying to make another record for a very long time. She stopped writing music after her first record because she “couldn’t decide if [she] wrote music for a record or if [she] was now a songwriter.” She started writing again with “no expectation” about five years after the record which helped her and now, she says, she has “like 82 songs just waiting to be recorded.” The timing for her, however, has been a struggle. “I’m too busy. I’m on tour. Now I don’t have enough money to make a record. Now I have the money, but I don’t have the time. But now, Corona’s happening… I’m gonna get there eventually.” She threw out the idea of recording them one at a time and releasing them individually, too, so that may be coming in the future. “I’ve been writing a lot and it’s awesome. Music is my life… how cliche is that? That’s like a T-shirt. That’s so corny and if somebody was wearing that, I’d be like ’you are corny.’ “Please be sure to mention that I said that, but that it was corny… Corniest thing I’ve ever said… sweet.”

Music is my life… how cliche is that?”

— Kamilah

Apart from writing and vocals, she also plays some guitar and called herself a “mediocre” guitarist. Additionally, she started learning piano during the pandemic and has been playing for about a year and a half now. “I love playing piano and I’m not great yet, but it’s more fun than guitar to me. It’s easier than guitar to me in some weird way and I’ve been playing for like ever.” She picked up my phone, which was recording, and added, “Not very well, but don’t tell anybody!” while laughing.

Kamilah (left) at “All Too Well” short film premiere. As Part One said, she was in the film.

Switching back to Taylor Swift, I had a list of questions that had been given to me by various people to include in the interview. However, Kamilah politely declined to answer for privacy reasons and we continued the conversation.

Last but not least, we talked about SNL. At the time of the interview, Kamilah had just performed live on the show with Taylor Swift a few weeks prior. This was not her first time, however. She was also on the show back in 2017 for the Reputation promo. Taylor performed “…Ready for it?” and we pulled up the video so I could watch. As it played, she commented on what she was thinking and sang along. “I really like this song… so I take my tiiiiime… here I come out of the shadows… ooooooh!… Oh my god, I love this song!… aaaaahI know I’m gonna be with you…”

Kamilah (far right) as part of Taylor Swift’s SNL performance

According to Kamilah, the SNL stage is “really small, smaller than you think. It’s nerve racking because it’s live. Even though I’m a touring musician and we do live, there’s something about live on TV where there’s millions and millions of people watching that makes you nervous, but it’s really fun… It’s a bucket list dream. As an artist when you’re performing like that, the top thing you get is like an SNL and it’s a really big deal, so when I got it the first time it was really, really exciting and then to get it again a second time was like, ‘Come on!’”

Kamilah on SNL stage at rehersal

“SNL is really a dream come true and, just to add to that, any time there’s like an SNL or if you’re on a job and you travel to another country or whatever, I always treat every moment… like ‘This is it! You may never get to perform at The Grammys again. This may be the one time,’ which I’m super grateful for, because I’ve gotten to do things twice over, three times over, and it’s really special.”

Finally, I’d like to thank Kamilah for agreeing to this interview. I loved our conversation and I hope that y’all enjoy learning more about her just like I did!