Shining star Teraj looks to turn artistic passion into philanthropy, “Defy”ing all odds

Growing up in Miami with seven siblings and a single mother is what ultimately inspired Teraj as an artist.

Friday Teraj dropped his single “We Got Each Other” a track featured on his upcoming album “Defy” expected to release in September. The title of the album “represents everything,” Teraj says, “defying the odds, overcoming every obstacle.” Before Teraj became a songwriter, dancer or a model, he first learned how to overcome challenges in life and saw this through his mother.

Teraj’s father passed away early so it was up to his mother to take care of him along with his four sisters and three brothers. Even on a $14,000 salary his mother pulled off “a miracle” Teraj says, explaining she raised them well in the inner city of Miami; and still to this day Teraj is amazed knowing all she did with what little she had. This internal strength combined with support from family helped him go further when practicing the arts.

So when did Teraj know we wanted to become an artist?

Teraj (courtesy of Coleman Entertainment Group)
Teraj (courtesy of Coleman Entertainment Group)

Ever since Teraj was a little boy he would draw and allow his imagination to take him where his artistic eye took it. When it came to coloring books Teraj didn’t like those because he’d rather draw the images than color something already created by someone else.

Combine his early itch to create art with living in a city like Miami where he was immersed in an artistic culture, he was destined to become an artist.

“It evolved as I grew up. Acting, singing and dancing,” he said.

Singing was something he whipped out of the blue during a ceremony honoring Oliver Wells for his support with a performing arts program. While Teraj was into acting at the time, he realized singing created a special feeling.

“It was something that I never experienced before,” Teraj said. “I exposed everyone to this hidden talent that I had. From that moment forward, I knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Afterwards he performed as often as he could. When he enrolled into Cornell University studying architecture and minoring in dance, he also joined the university’s iconic a cappella group, The Class Notes. While he learned of the culture of New York and brushed up on his vocals, he began writing his own music and when studying abroad booked shows overseas in Dublin, Paris and Rome. In New York, he performed as a regular at the Iguana Lounge in midtown Manhattan.

As the first male to go off to college in his family he’s learned the importance of higher education and encourages others to seek higher learning as it has helped his career.

“That network was the most important part for me,” Teraj said. “Make sure college is one of your top priorities. It will definitely change your life.”

One connection that he didn’t see coming was his “in” in the modeling industry. While hanging out on a beach with his friends photos were taken that landed on social media. From those photos Seth London, professional fashion photographer, discovered Teraj. London reached out and not long after Teraj saw his credentials he took the bus to head to his first professional photo shoot.

Continuing to make a name for himself as a model he walked the runway during NY Fashion Week. After rocking top of the line brands such as Aeropostal, Calvin Kein, Hermès, YSL and Zara, Teraj later found himself getting booked for music videos back-to-back weeks. Music videos he appeared in include the following: “23” by Mike will Made It featuring Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, and “Stack It Up!” by Meek Mill and Alley Boy.

“Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Teraj said about the way he exploded on the modeling scene.

Last calendar year Teraj focused on creating music. With his debut album “Defy” set to drop September 8, Teraj says he’s feeling surreal as his single “We Got Each Other” dropped last Friday, July 7.

“I still have to pinch myself sometimes as it all feels so surreal,” Teraj posted on Instagram.

This album will include songs listeners can vibe and dance to, says the Pop and R&B music artist. With a sound familiar to Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson mixed with contemporary and 2017 dance music, is what this “uplifting album” will sound like says Teraj.

While Teraj is always looking to do more, there’s one ultimate goal he’s working toward as an artist.

“Get involved in philanthropy,” Teraj said. And “bring back the voice that used to reach out and touch people. I want a fusion of those two components.”

Like Hidden Valley Culture of Facebook.

By Gino Terrell

Celebrity fashion designer Marla Guloien carved out a career pursuing her passion in fashion, film and music by being prepared for the moment, read more.


Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026


Leave a Reply!

%d bloggers like this: