It Took a ‘Four Year Pitch’ for O.N.E. the Duo to Become a Mother-Daughter Band
In a certain sense, O.N.E. the Duo's launch into the country genre is a homecoming, generations in the making. The "mother" half of the mother-daughter duo, Tekitha Washington, grew up in California, but traveling to her parents' hometowns in Arkansas and Texas, she explains in a new episode of Southern Living's "Biscuits & Jam" podcast.
"Traveling by train to Texas and visiting our cousins in Texas is something that we did routinely. Temple, Texas, to be in fact," she says. "Part of my childhood, and a part of my life, is actually built and bred in Southern culture, even though I was born in California."
Washington's musical career started in the mid-'90s, and she has worked closely with the hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clang, serving as the in-house singer for the group's 1997 album Wu-Tang Forever.
Her daughter Prana Supreme Diggs — now her O.N.E. the Duo partner — is the child of Washington and Wu-Tang frontman RZA, and music has been at the forefront of Diggs' life since her conception. Washington remembers having her daughter when she had already been a touring artist for several years, and making the decision to have a child with RZA as part of their mutual vision for the future.
"RZA and I were always very good friends. That was kind of the nature of our relationship, is friendship, okay?" she says. "And we started talking about what it would be like to have a child, who that human would be and what kind of contribution we could make to society if we created a being together. It's a true story.
"...When she was conceived and born, I had such a vision for her that I knew that her vision was not going to be too different from my own," Washington continues. "Because I'm not gonna stop being Tekitha." Six months after Diggs was born, she was joining her mom in the studio and starting to soak up the experience of life in the music business.
But even though Washington knew that her daughter was likely to share her passion for music, the pair were still a long way away from working together — much less forming a country duo. That was Diggs' idea, and it took some time to successfully pitch her mom on the plan.
"I pitched it, and then she said no. And then I threw a temper tantrum. And after the temper tantrum, she was like, 'Okay, let's hear what you have to say,'" Diggs recalls. "And then I explained to my mom...how my parents have taught me so much about the industry that I knew that I would be so protected if she was right beside me doing this. And my mom would not need to live vicariously through her child, because this is the job she does and has been doing my whole life.
"And then also, my mom is my best friend, and I've been calling her that since I was 10 years old. And I don't feel like anyone knows her better than I know her, and I don't feel like anyone knows me better than she knows me," Diggs adds.
It took about a year to bring her mom on board, but she'd been laying the groundwork for much longer, proving her work ethic in every aspect of the music business, from understanding contracts to providing creative direction on her dad's clothing line.
"So it was a four-year pitch," she jokes.
So they tested out what it felt like to sing together — their first venture was a cover of ZZ Ward's "Put the Gun Down" — and slowly started developing a sound which led them to Nashville. They moved permanently to Music City in 2016, attracted first to the openness of the songwriting community and the ability to pursue their project without preconceived notions attaching them to hip-hop or Wu-Tang Clan.
"I'm very serious about connection, and something very unique to Nashville that I haven't experienced in New York, Chicago or L.A. was this open-armness that really didn't have a limit," Washington describes. "It reminds me of the Black community, I gotta be honest. It reminds me of that energy. And those are the kinds of friends that I've made over my lifetime, but I wasn't expecting it out here.
"...We're not even talking about music now, or making music, or finding the best partners in our company. It's not even about that," she adds. "It has to start with the human beings first."
O.N.E. the Duo released their debut album, Blood Harmony, in August.