Interview With Amerie: Grammy-Nominated Singer-Songwriter, and Author of Children’s Book, You Will Do Great Things

Happy Women’s History Month Hustle and Soul Magazine readers, we’re thrilled to highlight Amerie who is making history with the release of her children’s book, You Will Do Great Things.

Beloved and celebrated Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Amerie’s You Will Do Great Things book is a lyrical, magical picture book about the great possibilities that lie ahead for our little ones, featuring illustrations by Raissa Figueroa.

A young boy’s imagination takes off as he gazes at family photos, whisking him off on a fantastical journey. Along the way, the boy tries exciting and bold new things, ventures into unexplored worlds, and forms deep connections with his multicultural heritage and the ancestors who imbue him with the strength and courage to make a difference.

Inspired by her own family, Amerie has written a moving, sweeping, and deeply loving story that is a celebration of everything our little ones have yet to do: the great, the amazing, the strange, and the new. It’s also a lasting reminder that the loved ones in our lives will always be right there beside us — and in our hearts — cheering us on.

The 40 Page book is set to release on March 28th and to be distributed by Roaring Brook Press.

Hustle and Soul Magazine obtained an exclusive interview with Amerie.

Congratulations, on your debut picture book, You Will Do Great Things. As a mother and writer, what message do you want to express throughout this 40-page book?

Amerie: I knew what I wanted to say, and I knew what I wanted to write with this book for black sons in particular. In writing this, I was thinking about my son, his future, and what I hope for. Also, I was thinking about my fears in the context of having a black son. I wanted him to know that whatever is going on in the world, he is capable, he has infinite potential, and he is already great.

Everything he needs is inside of him, and he is full of amazing things. It is very important for me for him to know that. Also, for me to tell him those things and for him to just see that for himself early on. It’s so much that happens in life so as parents, the best thing we can do is equip our children with self-esteem, knowledge of self, and with joy. We have to allow them to be children and allow them to know that we’ll be there no matter what. So I wanted him to also be prepared for this journey of life and to know that things are going to be amazing, but there will there might be times when he feels lost. There will be great times too and whatever he needs to get through life he has that inside of him. Mostly it was important for him to see himself reflected in the pages.

How was the creative process between you as a writer and the illustrator?

Amerie: While working with my editor and we were trying to figure out what was the vision for the book. It was very important to me that things were very magical, fantastical, abstract, and symbolic. I knew that the most difficult thing would be capturing the beauty and the magic within the book, but Raissa nailed it. She’s an artist in her own right.

Do you have any plans on doing book signings and having the books displayed in daycares or schools?

Amerie: That’s a really good idea to have the books in daycares. We’ve been working with school libraries and I am going to have a book signing with Brave and Kind Books in Atlanta. Brave is a beautiful black woman-owned bookstore. When you walk in you feel so cozy, and it’s very bright. It’s all about making sure that there are kids really represented in those books. So when your child walks into the bookstore they’re seeing themselves reflected.

We would love to hear about Amerie’s Book Club, and how it got started.

Amerie: Amerie’s Book Club was founded because I just love to talk about books. We focus on highlighting diverse perspectives, and unique voices. It doesn’t have to be any one particular kind of thing, it’s just across the board. We’ve done some nonfiction but also fiction as well. I just love to boost books that I feel people should read and that will make a difference in their life. That also could be great conversation starters. Whenever we talk about the books at the end of the month, I really love to ask those really big questions that the authors may not always get.

What are some last words that you will say directly to parents as to why it’s important for them to have the You Will Do Great Things book?

Amerie: I think I wouldn’t say that it’s important that they have this book, but I sure would love it if they do because it would be a great benefit. Hopefully, it will find a special place in your reading time, your family reading time, and I think it really speaks to so many of the things that we feel about our children.

The things that it’s important for them to know such as life is grand life, and it’s going to be an awesome adventure. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy all the time. Whatever you need to get through, you will have it inside. You’re still enough so listen to whatever that voice is inside, it will rarely lead you astray. It’s important for the kids to know that we’re there for them and that we are their biggest fans cheering them on. And, of course, if your child is black or brown, they see themselves reflected there. I’ve already had conversations with multiracial families and they were happy to see the multiracial representation because it’s not what the book is about. But you just see it.

You see my mom in there, you see the Korean family, and you will see the black family. Multiracial families feel like that’s important to see too so that kids know that families look all different kinds of ways.

Sometimes seeing yourself or not seeing yourself is the unspoken thing that’s enough to let a child know that they’re included or they’re excluded. So just seeing that can make it so people just understand on a very subconscious level that the world is full of variety and all different people in all different cultures. And that’s not all that we are. It’s just part of who we are. We live life and we want the same things for our kids.

About the Author

Amerie is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, and writer. The daughter of a Korean artist and an African-American military officer, Amerie was born in Massachusetts, raised all over the world, and graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s in English. She is the editor of New York Times bestseller Because You Love to Hate Me (a Junior Library Guild Selection), and recently founded Amerie’s Book Club, a book club that highlights diverse and unique perspectives and voices. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

About the Illustrator

Raissa Figueroa is a children’s book illustrator and overall art lover based out of San Diego, California. She loves taking in the early morning light while out on walks with her dog, Ghost, and letting her mind meander off to fantastical new places. Raissa is the illustrator of We Wait for the Sun, written by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe — which earned her a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor — as well as You Will Do Great Things written by Amerie, Oona written by Kelly DiPucchio, and The More the Merrier written by David Martin.

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With evocative, lush art and an affirming message for children of color, You Will Do Great Things is bound to be a perennial favorite, perfect for feel-good read-alouds at bedtime, in the classroom, and everywhere in between.

PREORDER Amerie’s debut picture book #YouWillDoGreatThings

Tammy Reese

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