Growing up in Brooklyn like I did, I’ve seen a lot of things that I wanted to write about, and music was always in the background.
As I got older I realized that I could hold a note. I had a really high voice. I would hum Michael Jackson songs on the way to school. In High School I was approached by another boy who asked me to sing in a group . That’s how I became a member of the Doo-Wop group “Charm”. What a wonderful experience singing in churches, schools, halls, colleges, and ultimately, Radio City – my dream!
My job with the group was musical director. I came up with the arrangements – often creating new material from the sounds and tracks around me. My favorite group was the Mills Brothers, whose harmonies many other groups would not even attempt to duplicate. I guided my team from not knowing how to stay on their own note, to winning awards and being asked to sing with Billy Joel (when we were only 19 or 20).
As our success and confidence grew, the other members’ egos got a little inflated. After learning all that I could teach them, we parted ways, and with the loss of our bass singer, the group just couldn’t go on.
One night I was home alone watching TV and tuned in “Showtime at the Apollo” – the only thing on in New York at 1:00am on Saturday. A guy was getting booed and it dawned on me, “I never got booed. I should give this a try.” The following Monday I called the Theater. Auditions were the next day. They asked me if I could be on the show the following night, and by the end of that Wednesday evening the audience was chanting my name. (All this was quite different from my fear of not being able to show my face in my neighborhood again if they did boo me!)
I sang a hard song, Earth Wind & Fire’s “Reasons”, one that I consider an ultimate classic. I appeared there so many times over the next seven years that my nickname became “Mr. Reasons”.
After my first appearance there I was approached by a representative of Rude Boy Records in New York. They asked me if I was interested in a contract (“Hell yeah!”). I had written a couple of songs for “Charm” but had never really focused on myself as a solo performer.
So I started writing songs. Ideas just start popping into my head, I jot them down, and try to get them onto tracks in the studio as quickly as possible. I hear the orchestrations and the rhythm, it’s just a matter of finding the right technical expertise in the studio to put down what I hear. I’ve worked with many engineers at several different studios, doing my own production with my own ideas. I’m like a one man band.
My confidence in my writing has grown steadily over the years. But it’s backed by a commitment to myself as a great singer first and foremost. I know I can sing anything, so I’m not afraid to try anything.
Rude Boy records went bust very suddenly and very surprisingly to me. I’m looking for a record company that can really support the ideas I have and that isn’t above taking a chance on a “dark horse” who may be coming to the game a little too late.
I think as long as we live, we each have a role to play with music. And when I think of the destructive forces alive in the world today, including in my own community, I’d like to leave a record for the future that speaks a little better for the times you and I live in today.