By Dominique Carson
TERAJ is a recording artist who is truly on the rise! At the age of 32, he is a remarkable singer, songwriter, model, and dancer. His creative journey in the arts began when he was a child and it molded into an incredible artist. Despite his rough living conditions in Miami, TERAJ was determined to have a career in the artists.
TERAJ took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to him, including earning a degree from Ivy League institution Cornell University and modeling. Even though singing and performing was just around the corner, he partakes in modeling for more notoriety. After a test photo shoot, TERAJ became the “go-to” model for music videos. He was cast in numerous music videos such as “23” by Mike Will Made It featuring Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, and Juicy J, and “Stack It Up!” by Meek Mill and Alley Boy.
TERAJ established a successful modeling career, but music called his name. In 2016, he returned to music by recording a single “We Got Each Other” and worked on an EP. This man accomplished a great deal, but for TERAJ, this is just the beginning!
Singersroom.com conversed with TERAJ about his dedication to music, modeling, and his new single.
Check it out!
A Career in the Arts: I was always surrounded by art, music, and dance. I was like that kid that was singing behind closed doors. I knew how to draw and paint, in addition to singing. My mother told me that my father was interested in the arts and it was transferred over to me. She said he was an artist in his own right.
Attending College: I knew it was important for me to get an education and make something of myself. I went to Cornell University and earned my Bachelors degree in Architecture and a Minor in Dance. Going to college was important especially because of my surroundings in Miami — it was not great. I networked with people from all walks of life. They inspired me when I heard their stories. I discovered how to navigate in the world and learned more about myself in the process. While I was at Cornell, I joined the school a cappella group called The Class Notes during my sophomore year. It was a great way for me to sing on a regular basis. I was surrounded by other people who enjoyed singing and wanted to perfect their craft. It was a huge group on campus.
Hello Modeling: After I graduated from college, I was applying for architecture jobs. I was applying for jobs for about a year and no luck. There weren’t any opportunities available because of the field’s budget. Then one day, Seth London, a fashion photographer, approached me about modeling. I started doing photo shoots in NYC. I hopped on the bus and did shots with him. I produce great and solid work. And that’s how my modeling career got started. I started modeling for Aeropostale, Calvin Kein, Hermès, YSL and Zara.
Pros & Cons of Modeling: Pros: I started feeling more comfortable in my skin. I did struggle with body image at some point in my life. I didn’t find myself appealing, but modeling boosted my self-confidence. It was a great platform for me to express myself through modeling. I met so many wonderful people in different cities and countries. Cons: People have this perception that you finally made it in the industry. They don’t know that you have to work hard. Black models are often on the back burner. There’s a lot of racism going on during casting. They would want the models with the prison bodies: big muscles and stocky. White men models are praised more while Black models are criticized more. Some agencies pay attention more to color and look than overall talent.
The Transition from Modeling to Singing: It was not an easy transition, but it made my open my eyes to the modeling world. I wasn’t fulfilled in modeling; I didn’t enjoy it anymore. Singing was my way out of the industry. I started looking at a site called Indiegogo.com where I can promote my music and introduce myself to the industry. Indiegogo.com allowed me to do something with my music. I was ready to get the ball rolling. Performing was always my dream. Since 2016, I have been dedicated to my music. It was a long journey because the doors weren’t opening, but I couldn’t do this by myself. I started opening up to people and asking questions, and the process became life-changing. I learned so much more by collaborating with others and presenting my body of work.
Family Support on Music: My mom was very supportive, but I didn’t reveal my singing voice for years. But once they heard my singing voice, most of my family jumped on board. It took my grandfather a while to get on board because he thought I was going to be an architect. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be an architect and I was not forcing myself. I am just blessed and humble to have my family support in presenting my God-given gift to the world.
Single” We Got Each Other”: This record is my baby! It was a way for me to let my Day 1s know we got each other back. It was my love letter to them. I wanted the song to be my first single because of the message behind the song. It’s a song to remind people we need to have each other’s back and stop being so competitive. It was such a humbling experience when I wrote the record. I am thankful for the people who were with me through this journey.
Debut Album: My debut album Defy is based on my personal experiences, my highs and lows, and triumphs. From the time I was growing up, I worshiped the principle of working hard. It was important for me to make that valuable. Some would tell me I wouldn’t amount to anything based on my surroundings in Miami. We grew up in the projects, and by the grace of God, I defeated those odds. And so while I was recording the album, I wanted those concepts to be reflected on this album.
Upcoming Projects: I will be traveling across the country for more modeling opportunities. I am wrapping up the album and would like to get into acting.