Because Bayje is more than just a color

Elyssa Goodman

The first thing I ever noticed about Bayje (pronounced “beige”), was a shiny, silver word hanging from her neck, “Barbie.” Though I thought it was cute at the time, reminding me of my own childhood playing with the famed plastic doll, I wonder now if it is the right necklace for the young singer.

I think of Barbie and I think generic mass production. This is what beauty looks like, this is what the public wants. But Bayje herself hopes not to cater to this sort of standard set in popular culture, hoping instead to present herself distinctively amongst the “types” that we as a culture are so constantly subjected to. She refers to her own music as “genre-free,” but I wonder if there just really isn’t a genre for what Bayje wants her music to be just yet. Her voice is powerful, inspired by the modern Pop vocals of Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, but set to a pulsing, yet smooth R&B beat. She states with pride and determination, “I was sent to break the mold.”

So far, Bayje has broken the mold for most girls at her age, 19. She has been in the studio working on material, recording, and marketing herself since she signed to Atlantic Records at the age of 16 after dropping out of high school. “I was thinking, I really need to do this singing thing. This is what I’m meant to do,” she says. Luckily, she has the drive to make sure she can make the most of her talents, because her life could have gone in a different direction completely.


Back in the day, Bayje was Brittany Dowdell, from Syracuse, New York. She came from an area where many girls get pregnant, drop out of high school, or both, and acknowledges frankly that, “It could have been me, too. Music and my family and my team saved my life.” Often cast out because of her mixed race, not black, not white, but somewhere in the middle, her mother used to say, “You’re beige,” and the name stuck, helping her sort through the teasing and bullying that came with her adolescence.


After signing with Atlantic, and turning down Diddy’s offer at Bad Boy Records because she didn’t want to be put in a metaphorical box, Bayje moved to New York City which was, she says, quite intimidating. “I was like, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” But Bayje is now more at ease with the music industry, touring, and the uncertain lifestyle that comes with being a recording artist. “I mean, I’m 19. I don’t really know how I handle it,” she laughs.


Bayje is still confident, however, when discussing her music. “Now that the album is pretty much a wrap,” she says, “I have no comparison.” Her debut album will be released approximately in February 2009, and now has singles circulating radio stations around the country. Her song “Impossible” was recently featured in Step Up 2: The Streets and has a video released for her song, “Find A Way.” Bayje is currently on a grassroots listening party and radio station tour of the U.S., and has plans to attend the Grammys and MTV’s Video Music Awards in the coming year.


I look at Bayje, a line of purple glitter making her eyes sparkle, and I only hope that this sparkle doesn’t fade. I hope that she can remain genre-free as she wants or even create her own genre, and that she stays Bayje, not becoming Barbie as so many singers do. In fact, why not make her own necklace? It will be the opposite of mass production, labels, and being put into a box. In a word, it will be Bayje.