Soul Pepper Spices Up Detroit’s Music Scene

An interview with Tara Corrado and Markita MooreSoul_Pepper

If you’re a long-time Detroiter, at some point you may have been lucky enough to have witnessed Tara Corrado or Markita Moore channeling their musical energies on stage. The duo recently performed for Critical Moment supporters at our summer hootenanny fundraiser at Food Field’s urban farm. Although they’ve earned their chops separately after many years of playing the local scene, the two are currently teaming up as members of the all-female soul/rock/jazz fusion band Soul Pepper.

Corrado sings and plays guitar for the group, while Moore keeps things moving with her lively trumpet playing. The band is rounded out by Nisha Stylez on keys and Charisse Hatton on drums. Soul Pepper is a high energy group that mixes rich lyrics with experimental but catchy instrumentals. If you’d like to get a taste of their sound, they’re currently hatching up a three-song EP that’s scheduled to drop this winter.

We recently reached out to Moore and Corrado to find out more about Soul Pepper and their thoughts on living and working as musicians in the Motor City.

CM: How would you describe your style?

Tara Corrado: Rhythm and blues funky rock, a giant pulsating hybrid of all of our influences, feelings, and skill levels.

CM: What role does improvisation play in your work?

TC: We make the melody and words a true backbone and building ground, and build from there. Markita seems to pull from every influence shes ever bumped into! I’m talking jazz, classical, mariachi, soundtracks… everything. Me, myself, I tend to lead into a Ennio Morricone fit, classical or jazz guitar, or trying to squeeze in something King Crimson or early metal sounds. We get it in by leaving elbow room in our music. You can’t fill up every line on the sheet when you compose, you gotta allow for happy interference, accidents, beautiful spills.

CM: How did Soul Pepper come together?

TC: Mutual friends,emails, musical meetings, persistence, [and] attending each others shows.

Markita Moore: A mutual friend of ours, Jon Kiner, had been telling me to meet with Tara for years. I finally decided to ask her if she needed a bass player for her all-female band project. I originally auditioned on bass, but it turned out, trumpet was the best fit for me in her band.

CM: What can you tell us about your musical backgrounds?

TC: I’ve been playing and performing music since 2005, all around downtown Detroit. This is my first true band! Prior to that I was a professional dancer.

MM: I am a multi-instrumentalist and music educator from Detroit.  I started playing trumpet at the age of ten and majored in it through college. I also play trumpet with the Detroit Party Marching Band. Two band projects I am working on include: an experimental-indie band called “Elemental Meaning” and a Police cover-band called “the5oh’s”.  I have been teaching music in Detroit-area schools for the last three years. I am currently teaching at UPrep Science & Math High School.  [I’m] also the conductor for Merry Tuba Christmas, a “tuba-palooza” celebration that takes place in Detroit.

CM: What’s your favorite song and why?

MM: “Borrow Your Friends” because it’s uptempo an exciting. The horn parts are a lot of fun.

CM: What is your current project?

MM:The current project of Soul Pepper is to create a network of women musicians who support each other in our various musical endeavors.  Currently, Soul Pepper and Galexsea 6^ are collaborating.  Galexsea 6^ has an [October] record release where Soul Pepper musicians will be Galexia’s backing band.

TC: The new project with  Galexsea 6^ is dark and sexy! Truly! So get ready.

CM: Where does your music come from?

TC: Social justice, oppression, eureka moments, joy, poverty, LOVE, anger, even death! It’s all the stuff that makes up life and shifts social structures. The moments that give you celebrations, the cries, raising hell, praising your creator! People forget to express EVERY ounce and to use music as a platform for true conversations to their listener

CM: What kind of role does Detroit’s environment play in your art?

MM: We’re all from Detroit and the surrounding areas so we have this city running through our veins fueling everything we do. I love the “Detroit Hustles Harder” motto.  It’s true no matter who you are examining in this city.  Life ain’t easy, but we continue to make it work in spite of less-than-favorable conditions.

TC: Changes are always happening here, some positive, and some devastating. We are guerillas here. Being in such an industrial setting calls for us to be the fragrant flowers and the major protests we aren’t seeing enough of here! I think our music reflects the needs of the human soul here. Sometimes our songs are saying: “Enough is enough,” “I need more.” “Don’t worry,” [and] “This is the time to be worried and take action.” Detroits ups and downs pump through our veins.

CM: What’s your favorite venue to play in Detroit and why?

MM: My favorite venue so far is the Tangent Gallery.  The trumpet resonates so well within its walls.

TC: Harbor House and the music hall. But my favorite sound guy practically lives at the Comet Bar.

CM: What keeps you making music?

MM: Music is my passion and release.  I love and need to make as much music as I possibly can in this lifetime.  I tried to live life without music, and didn’t get very far.

TC: The need is there! We mind the gap! We love creation.

Photo by Mark Tucker.