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mali music’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.

You remember Mali Music, right? He was the tall, chocolate brotha who captivated the BET audience in 2011 with his electrifying performance at “Music Matters.” Courtney, his 9-5 name, lives and breathes the experiences that go into creating Mali’s Music. With that three minute performance, the southern boy was able to merit the attention of industry heavy weights like Akon and get a record deal just a few months later. Sweet!

Mali stopped by our HelloBeautiful offices to chat for a bit. Unlike other artists, Mali hopes to use his musical influence to give listeners another option, offer them something new, change up their musical diet a bit. And with his keen story telling abilities coupled with his wide music knowledge, we’re definitely hungry for what Mali has cooking.

Name: Kortney Pollard

Age: 25

Hometown: Savannah, GA

Who are your musical inspirations? Bilal. Cee-Lo and OutKast. They gave me freedom. The first thing I appreciated about creativity was anyone who was free enough to be themselves. I was inspired by that and new immediately that was what I wanted. Especially watching concerts of Michael Jackson, him just expressing himself and people just eating that I up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

When did you know music was your passion? It’s confirmed and affirmed to me everyday, but there was a moment when I was sitting in front of the T.V. with my sisters and my cousins and we were watching Michael Jackson “Budapest” and I was seeing everything that he was emitting and the fact that, that many people who may not have known him personally still understood it, that’s when I said ‘that’s it!’

What Has Been Your Biggest Break Thus Far? I think one of the best opportunities I had was to sing at the BET awards 2011. I sung “Job Experience” at the BET Music Matters stage and my career changed after that. The next morning I was sitting across the table from Akon having a meeting and the next couple of months I signed with RCA.

If you were the love child of any two artists-dead or alive-who would they be and why? Bob Marley would be my father and Regina Specktor would be my mother. That’s why I am what I am. I love the story. I’m a story teller and its eventually going to get back to that point. I love the story telling of folk music, creativity and classical piano feel, but the soul and passion. It’s a very weird and eclectic blend, but that is me.

Watch his new video “Beautiful”

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BASE LEVEL: Mali Music Brings The Art Of Storytelling Back To Music  was originally published on