A Lil’ Bit of Time with a Chicago Idol

LiL'BiT with funk/soul legend George Clinton in Atlanta. Photo by Adam "DJ BLAK" Horne.

Gary, Indiana native and Indiana University grad LiL’BiT describes her sound as Soul-Pop-R&B-Blues. “My inspiration comes from any and everywhere. I like to write about stuff that nobody else is singing about, songs that talk about the things that the everyday Jane or Joe is living through, songs about love and relationships, hard times, stuff in the news, etc.”

LiL’BiT lists Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Minnie Riperton, Norah Jones, Laura Lee, Tevin Campbell, and Shanice among her many influences. She got her start as a playground rapper at age 10, where the name LiL’BiT first stuck. When she started singing at 22, she kept the tag but otherwise never looked back.

She recently graduated with her Bachelors in Communication, but LiL’BiT has been balancing school and music for years. Her first lyrical inspiration came in the 7th grade, when she wrote a poem about autumn for her teacher. “That was my very first poem, and she got so excited about it, she showed [it] to all the other teachers in her department.”

Her formal training is in theater and dance, but she says that the speeches and analytical writings she produced as a Communication major at Indiana University helped boost her songwriting abilities. “I also love to buy books and read online articles on songwriting and singing to improve my skills.”

Keeping up with school has been a challenge. It certainly had an effect on her practice schedule. “College hindered me musically because I put my education first. That choice made life extremely difficult. I was working plan A and plan B simultaneously.”

But did college help LiL’BiT get her music heard? “I kept my school life and music career separate,” she says. “Time will definitely tell [if] that has helped me or hurt me. I took many dance, theater, and music classes in college, but few knew I was a singer . . . not my teachers, not my classmates, not even my parents!” Yet she does believe that the classes she took, even those not directly related to music, helped her develop skills in time management and self-discipline.

LiL’BiT typically works solo but is open to collaboration – it’s a lot of work to craft and record songs, then promote them on Myspace and Facebook, all by herself. “Most of my songs were written solo.  However, [sometimes] the subject matter or title came from a friend, and I’ll just make a song out of it.  Of course, I share half of the creative rights with those friends. Working alone has been out of necessity.  I would love to work with others . . . I think.” She recently took the first step in this direction, recording several tracks with a member of the “awesome Chicago band” called Animate Objects (http://www.myspace.com/AnimateObjects), and she’s proud of the results.

As she browses law school catalogues for the fall 2010 semester, it is unclear what the future holds for LiL’BiT and her music career. Law students are notoriously busy, and LiL’BiT is a dedicated student who puts her education first at all times. But she hopes to continue singing for as long as she can. “I met a really cool attorney who formed a band while in law school.  He was able to work both sides while in school and continues to do so now, even as a new lawyer.” As of late, LiL’BiT has been balancing law school applications with practice at CPE Sound Studios, located in the West Loop (345 N. Loomis St.), or in the free eighth-floor rehearsal rooms at the Harold Washington Library (400 S. State St.).

What has been the high point of her career so far? “Meeting the one and only Michael Jackson.” When the King of Pop visited their shared hometown of Gary in the summer of 2003, Lil’BiT shared a special moment with her idol. She was discouraged by her lack of success in audition after audition and had focused on her new day job instead. So, in order to raise money for a friend, she planned to wear a jacket decorated with over 200 vintage MJ pins and sell them to fans at the appearance.

She didn’t expect to get even a glimpse of the legendary performer, but journalists swarmed her as soon as she arrived. “That jacket garnered so much attention that, within just 3 hours of devising our plan, we were being introduced to Mr. Jackson himself, who let out a very mild-mannered, ‘Wow!’” It was a life-changing moment. Just days after that encounter, she placed in the top 15 finalists in the Chicago Idol competition and was inspired to fully recommit to her music.

So what’s next? After recently moving back to the Chicago area from Atlanta, LiL’BiT is looking ahead and considering suggestions that a possible name change might better reflect her development as an artist. While she hasn’t had a chance to play live recently, she hopes to “change that in 2010 . . . It would be a dream to tour.” In her song “The Possibilities,” she emphasizes the importance of making the most out of life and following dreams.

So far, it looks like she’s off to a pretty good start.

Kayla Zimmerman

You can find LiL’BiT’s music at http://www.myspace.com/mslilbit and  http://www.soundcloud.com/LiLBiT. Check out her Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/msLiLBiT.2010.

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2 responses to “A Lil’ Bit of Time with a Chicago Idol

  1. what an amazingly well-written article!

  2. George Clinton! I love that guy. Sad to hear about his son… Interesting article as well.

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