Music has always been an important part of Noelle Scaggs' life. As a child she grew up listening to her parents play artists such as Marvin Gaye and The Temptations during house parties. Now, Scaggs rocks out with the band Fitz and the Tantrums in which she is the only female and the only African-American member.
"It's funny when people mention me as ‘the Black chick' in the band. On one hand it's beautiful to represent my culture, but on the other hand I have other cultures and there is already so much separation in the world," said Scaggs, adding that, though she enjoyed singing, she never wanted to have a band until after graduating high school and that her career as a singer "fell into her pocket."
Throughout elementary school, Scaggs practiced singing every day and signed herself up for every talent show she had the opportunity to be a part of.
"I was one of those kids who had friends but got picked on a lot. It was just one of those situations where I felt like I needed an outlet. For me, that outlet was music. It wasn't something I was really looking to pursue as a career," Scaggs explained.
However, a career did follow, first as a songwriter and then as a soul singer.
Scaggs toured with a band titled The Rebirth for 10 years. After that, she spent a few years away from music focusing on her own goals. Three years ago, she starting working with Fitz and the Tantrums.
"I got this random phone call from Fitz, the lead of the band, asking if I could do backup for a show. That wasn't something I would normally do. However, I don't regret it one bit," Scaggs said. "I just stuck with them. It's amazing being on stage with these guys. I was at the Sasquatch Music Festival in Seattle a little while ago and kept thinking ‘we are an independent band. I can't believe all of these people know exactly who we are and are singing along with our music.'"
The sound of Fitz and the Tantrums is very unique. Scaggs describes her band as a "Motown meets the ‘80s soul band."
"I pick up harmony and offer a female perspective because it's a male and female duo type of things," she said. "I think with technology now, people can listen to every type of music. I'm one of those chicks who listens to Radiohead and the Bird and the Bee. That type of music inspires me creatively because the style of writing is cleaver and poetic."
Scaggs says her main goal as an artist is for listeners to connect with other people the way she has connected with music since she was a child. She also wants listeners to enjoy themselves. If you come to a Fitz and the Tantrums show, you should come expecting a good time.
Scaggs gives potential attendees a warning. "Expect to sweat! Girls, come in sneakers instead of trying to be cute. We are very electric on stage. Come ready to dance and let loose."