Born and raised in New York City, Cécile Doo-Kingué is a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and recording engineer, who won the Fondation SPACQ Edith Butler Award for Excellence for her song “Home.” Written from personal experience, Doo-Kingué took her journey of being a first-generation Cameroonian living in Montreal and forged her own path in the music industry. With four studio albums under her belt, this international touring artist is inspired by the world around her and uses life’s experiences to connect people and music.
Tell us a little bit about your musical background. How old were you when you started playing guitar, and what inspired your passion for music?
I was roughly 12 when I started playing guitar, but my passion for music was developed long before I was born. I come from a multicultural background. I am the last of eight kids, and my family loved music, so I was always exposed to so many different styles and artists. As I started playing, this opened me up to shredding to a wide variety of music from jazz, makossa, soul, rock, and everything else in between.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by music that yielded a well-rounded musician. Recorder, piano, guitar, percussion, and drums; there’s no extracting music from my existence. It lives in me.
What inspires you to wake up every day and continue pursuing your dreams?
I’m alive and blessed with a talent that brings joy. Fostering and maintaining a beginner’s mind helps keep things fresh for me. Learning something new and combining curiosity with love, passion, compassion, and determination make every day worth living. You gotta keep growing!
I’m blessed to be surrounded by people who inspire and empower me every day. I try to do the same for them, so we mutually uplift each other. The company you keep makes all the difference in the world.
Take us through your songwriting process. What types of environments do you feel you need in order to be your most creative?
I don’t really have a process, per se. Some lyrics, melodies, or chord progressions haunt me for a long time before becoming a tune, while some songs come out in two minutes. Most of the time, ideas come in a block where lyrics, melody, and composition all dance in my head. At first, my writing used to start off with chords or a riff, but as I get older, I’ve been starting with lyrics or melodies and progressing from there.
When it comes to the environment, I prefer peaceful spaces to work out ideas, but when inspiration hits, I’ll take it—however, whenever, and wherever it comes.
What guitars are you playing right now? Name your top two or three.
I am currently playing my Gibson ES-335, my Telecaster, and my Gibson L-00.
Finish this sentence: I believe music…
Music is life. Music heals. Music unites. Music saves. And, music does not discriminate.