By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lake
Growing up on the south side of Houston in a community called Sunnyside was not easy for Roneshya Paul, whose stage name is Ronan Banks. As a child, she moved around a lot and was in and out of different schools. She did not always embrace the instability, but now as an adult she appreciates her experiences. “I think it was a good thing for me. I don’t have a problem meeting new people and adjusting to different environments.”
Her stage name Ronan came from the old cartoon “Ronin Warriors,” and since people already called her “Ro,” the name was a perfect fit. The name Banks comes from “prosperity and faith for wealth and longevity.”
Banks graduated from Hightower High School in 2009 and felt prepared for college as she took all AP/Honors courses. She then attended Sam Houston State University (SHSU) where she found her love for rapping. While at SHSU, Banks began hanging around people who would rap and freestyle. She started listening to the rhythm, started freestyling with them, and things took off from there.
Banks graduated from SHSU in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management with a minor in Business Communications. When she returned home from school, she still wanted to continue rapping and one of her goals was to release a song on Apple Music. While working for a school district, one of her colleagues connected her with different celebrities, which opened some doors for her to perform. “I started doing challenges and winning the challenges. It just happened so fast.” Through her music, she started expressing herself while building a brand for herself. When speaking about her music she stated, “If I wrote it and I feel good about it, and if people can viably understand it and relate to it, I feel like I’ve done my part as an artist.”
Music allows Banks to come alive. She referred to music being a “fresh canvas” to paint her picture. Banks furthered discussed her love for lyricism. “If you know how to put words together, my mind is blown.” With this love, she wanted to educate people through her music. “I want to use my educational background and incorporate it into my music.” She wants to give her audience material that will require them to look something up and learn something new. She also reflected on her love for English and how it taught her similes, metaphors, and other elements that helps her create the music she wants to share with others.
When discussing how Banks remains true to herself while pursuing her music, she mentioned how it is because of God. “I have a good relationship with God. He is my foundation for everything. I really care about how he uses me. When you spend time with him, you start finding out who you are. I already stand out, there’s no need for me to try harder to do that. Being rooted in who I am is what keeps me in the space of not trying to portray something I’m not.”
She further mentioned that when she spends a lot of time with God, it helps her to keep a good healthy relationship balance between social media and living her life. She stated, “I fast sometimes from social media just so I can stay mentally healthy.”
Banks also reflected on the current state of our Black culture. “We’re hurting as a culture. Love is not there anymore. I feel like that’s all Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to do. It was his mission to try and cultivate love. If he would have lived longer, we would be in a totally different atmosphere right now.”
Banks just released her first album titled The Samurai Warrior. She wanted a concept that everyone could relate to. “Everyone has wanted to be a ninja at one point in time and they liked Power Rangers. You have to go through mastery in order to get those skills. And I think that’s the same thing with life. You have to master certain things through trials and tribulations in order to become the right person. I put that on my heart to create that and put that out in my music.”
Banks currently works as a Compliance & Licensing Administrator for an energy solar company. When she’s not working, her goal is to continue to keep making music. “Everybody has their own story, and I just want to tell mine in a way that can help and inspire someone.”