Before being selected as one of the New York City-based artists to appear on the soundtrack for the Netflix remake of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It”, Brooklyn singer Freelamour was struggling to find the confidence to share her intimate music publicly.
Clarissa Ramos, who goes by Freelamour when recording, is one of seven previously undiscovered musicians who landed credits on a Spike Lee production after the filmmaker posted a call for new tracks on Instagram in January.
“I was a little taken back. I didn’t believe it,” she said of the call she’d received from Lee’s lawyers in the spring. “I’m now inspired to keep doing music that’s true to my heart because I was real and authentic and Spike Lee noticed it.”
The 32-year-old Williamsburg native submitted her track “Little Girl” via SoundCloud and received $5,000 for the use of her single. Lee, who said he “always tries to incorporate the community” in his projects, hand-selected “Little Girl” out of thousands of submissions.
Her four-minute song plays over a touching scene in the fifth episode, “All Words Matter,” which sees lead Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) and several other characters struggling with their self-worth and racial identity.
Though Ramos didn’t know it at the time, her track was a nearly perfect fit for the vibe Lee was aiming for in a scene in which Nola tells a young girl at an underprivileged school that her art has the power to spark a change in society.
“There are so many girls out there and so much going on in the world, so much confusion, so many different energies, so a lot of girls don’t understand their worth,” Ramos said, explaining that her own insecurities served as the inspiration behind her song, written in 2013.
Ramos, who attended high school at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, said her struggles with confidence kept her from being able to identify as a singer for years.
“Nola’s very secure, independent and confident in her beliefs,” Ramos said. “My song is about letting go of those beliefs and the things we learn we need to be when we’re younger. I look up to Nola because she doesn’t follow the status quo. She follows what she feels and what’s true to her.”
“Little Girl,” described as a “spiritual, love-based folk” song, is in stark contrast to the rap and hip-hop tracks that play during scenes starring strong-willed Nola. The Roots’ “The Seed (2.0),” Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty” and Solange’s “Mad” are just a few of the well-known songs on the series’ soundtrack list.
Inspired by Nola, Ramos uploaded to Spotify last month her very first “amateur,” five-track album, “Broken Open,” in hopes of inspiring a change in other young women who may have endured the same self-identity struggles.
Will the placement of her “She’s Gotta Have It” help get her to the stage to perform live at an NYC venue? “I’m so afraid, but that’s my next thing.”
“She’s Gotta Have It” is streaming now on Netflix.