Meet Cramer. Raised in PG County, Akeira Cramer started out in theater classes in high school and fell in love with singing and performance. Since then she's toured around America, released some original songs, and much more. Read about Cramer's creative journey below where she discusses dropping out of college to go on a Grammy-sponsored tour, tracking her guitar progress on Instagram, and what she has in store for this year.
CSDC: We talked about it earlier - you went to U Pitt, correct?
CSDC: But you're from Maryland. When did you start getting into music?
Cramer: I'm from Maryland, yeah. I started singing and performing in high school, in theater first.
CSDC: Oh, really? That's what always gets us.
Cramer: Yeah, I always think about that. I'm always like, I think it was such a blessing that I started with theater, because you get on the stage and they kind of just throw you out there. Put the lights on you and like, "Go!" If I had started, maybe in, like, a choir, then it might have not been the same thing.
CSDC: About when did you start doing open mics and stuff? That's like a big part of what you do, I feel.
Cramer: Yeah, it was like college.
CSDC: College? Awesome. That's when you were at U Pitt? Is that when you met [a mutual friend] and you did open mic with her?
Cramer: Well, we had a show together. We did a show. It was like a spirit fashion show. During the intermission, they needed some singers. So, some CMU people came to Pitt and got a few singers. That was really cool.
CSDC: That's awesome. So, I guess, a good question to ask you is, after you started doing theater in the high school, did that travel on with you to college when you went to U Pitt?
Cramer: Yeah, but not as much in the forefront really. In high school, I was really focused on science and technology, actually. I was like a total science geek. I was so for biology...
CSDC: Really? I would never have guessed.
Cramer: And it was great. But, I realized that everything I was doing, regardless of what I was doing, what subject I was doing, I was adding art to it. I was doing projects and I would put so much work into how it looked or how it was presented than anything else. When I went to college, it was the same way. I stayed with biology ...
CSDC: So, you were a biology major at U Pitt?
Cramer: I started ...
CSDC: Like we do.
Cramer: And I was like, I wanna be a doctor, you know. And I just did music on the side because I was so focused on keeping my scholarship, doing my work and stuff. It just seemed to be like the way to, I don't know, present things artistically. I eventually switched my major.
CSDC: To what?
Cramer: Film. I ended up in film.
CSDC: Wow, that's beautiful. It's definitely going to help you with whatever you're trying to do in music.
Cramer: Learning about visuals and the way, like, a narrative can play out.
CSDC: Right. The same thing as song writing almost.
CSDC: You track your guitar progression on Instagram almost daily; congratulations on recently reaching two years! What was the state of your life when you started? What made you want to document your progress?
Cramer: I was playing the guitar through college. I was content with it though, you know? It wasn't until 2015 that I went on tour, and I came back, and I realized, there's so many great people that know how to play onstage. You don't really think about it until you're actually standing in front of somebody on stage that's killin' it and you're like, Wait. I need to reevaluate everything. I needed to just sit in my basement by myself and just learn the things I need to learn, instead of like makin' excuses why I can't... So, I just sat down and I was like, I'm gonna teach myself. I'm gonna go to school for myself... This is actually after I dropped out of Pitt. I left it. And pursued music. And that's when I went on tour.
CSDC: You want to know what's so crazy to me, two things that you just said that. So basically you said you dropped out of school to learn guitar. What about your scholarship?!
Cramer: (laughter) My life is like a running joke. Like a full cliché.
CSDC: Like a marathon where you're going to win. That's what it is. But, the second is that, when you went on tour, that's when you were inspired to like ... OK, I'm picking up the guitar and that's when you started tracking your progression. Now, two years later, you're about to go on tour again, as a guitarist, no?
Cramer: Right. Yeah, I am.
CSDC: That's amazing. Can you talk about like, who you're going on tour with? No?
Cramer: No, I mean I can't give super details, but I can tell you who - Raveena.
Cramer: Well thank you.
CSDC: Can you tell me about your first time on tour?
Cramer: The first tour was sponsored by the Grammys. So, I won this contest - long story.
CSDC: I read that on Billboard.
Cramer: That's when I dropped out of school.
CSDC: OK, I'm dropping out of school for anything-Grammys, too.
Cramer: I left in order to pursue art. And that year I applied for this competition, Grammy Amplifier competition. Put my music in, a whole lot of people voted, it had judges Allen Stone, Ziggy Marley, who was the other ... There was another group. But they voted and they were like the panel of judges, and the winners ... one person got a music video, one person got like a recording. You know, a recorded song in the studio, and one person got a tour. I got the tour. And they just toured me all over the country. They put me as the headliner. No experience. Festival after festival after festival. Me and my band. It was the biggest blessing.
CSDC: And you killed it?
Cramer: I wouldn't say I killed it. Because after that, I like sat in my basement for like two years. didn't really feel like I killed it, but I felt like it was like ...
CSDC: An experience like no other.
Cramer: Right. It gave me a lot of wisdom, in order to do something ...
CSDC: I love it. Alright, so, next question for you. You mentioned the judges, Ziggy Marley, Allen Stone, whom I love so very much in my soul. Same as Matt Corby – that's when I was like, oh, this is my new musical soulmate. Because I saw you, not singing, but playing Matt Corby on the guitar. I love Trick of the Light.
Cramer: That and the Resolution.
CSDC: Oh my god. Honestly?
Cramer: Take me out.
CSDC: Take me out, OK?! So I want to talk about your influences. I feel like Matt Corby I can maybe say is one...
CSDC: If you want to elaborate a little on a few more…
Cramer: I'd say Matt Corby, Miguel ... Miguel is so huge ...
CSDC: Yes. He's so diverse and people don't like, people don't credit it to him.
Cramer: He has the feel.
CSDC: In the future, we're gonna look back when it matters.
Cramer: I dunno, it's like, this might not be a word, but he's provocative.
CSDC: Yeah. Exactly.
Cramer: Yeah, that's just super confidence. Like pure confidence. Gets on stage, you have no doubt in your mind that he loves himself, you know.
Cramer: So, I love that. Chaka Khan. You know, same with the confidence. Lianne La Havas is amazing.
CSDC: Rock stars, all of them. Alright, next question. What can we expect from the show on March 17th at Songbyrd with Soft Glas, Mr. Daywalker, Greenss, and yourself?
Cramer: Oh man. Energy? I think a lot of my songs have been very like slow, kinda. I'm pickin' up the tempo. So, a lot of fast stuff. A lot of... what's the word. Not ethereal. Spacey type of...
CSDC: Like ambient?
CSDC: I love that type of music. That’s why I love your song Wash it Away so much.
Cramer: I may or may not play that.
CSDC: Well, I'm going to have to get emotionally prepared before it happens. I'm not going to embarrass myself.
Cramer: No, it's cool.
CSDC: OK, so, last question. I read in your bio, we talked about it, you were supposed to release an album last year, but you did not. Are you planning on doing that any time soon? If not, are you planning on doing anything, like releasing music, videos, some kind of Cramer?
Cramer: Uh huh. A collection of works are coming out right before the show.
CSDC: So we have time to learn it right before the show.
Cramer: Right before the show, and I will perform a couple of songs from that.
CSDC: We're gonna be definitely looking out for that. Excited for the show!
Shot by Java