I’ve released three albums to date. (Today is the day after Mother’s Day, 2008, I’m sitting in the Houston airport after a surprise visit home.) Between “One of the Ones’, “The Gospel According To Levi”, and “Bygones”, I think I’m right to say that fans consider “One of the Ones” their favorite collection of songs. It certainly has the best back-story.
I was living in Hoboken, NJ, working for three catering companies and grabbing every shift I could, and still it wasn’t enough to keep groceries, let alone pay rent. My pride was pummeled having spent the previous 6 months on Atlantic records only to see nothing but frustration and disappointment result from it. However, just as I was re-entering the life of the struggling artist, I had snagged this little appearance on a network TV show called “The Apprentice”. XM Radio was involved in the episode and would provide a bit of exposure to the artist of the winning team. I didn’t get paid for being on the episode, and a confidentiality agreement kept me from saying anything about the experience for nearly six months, when the episode aired.
With six months to brainstorm, and a resolve to wait no more for some suit to make my career happen, I realized that people being introduced to my talent through the episode might look for me on the internet. If I had a website and a product ready to sell, I could stand to make a little money, and gain my first national fan base.
I thumbed through songs left untouched by the Atlantic runaround. Mostly ballads. I had no means to hire a band. I had $400 left to my name, and talked this guy into giving me one time through each song at the piano. He was gracious enough to oblige, and 2 hours later I hopped on the E train with eight, very personal piano/vocal recordings.
Still I was heartbroken over the last deal going sour. With so much label interest in the past, but no successes to speak of, it finally occurred to me why that may be. How could the music industry know who I am as an artist if I’m too afraid to tell them? I had spent most of my professional pursuits pretending to be straight. Everyone always told me that I would commit career suicide if anyone knew who I really was. Regardless, I was now desperate to offer something substantial to the world, however few or many people decided to listen. I chose to reveal on the insert of the CD that each love song was written about another man, save one very special girl. This was my professional coming out, and a remarkable freeing of my creative self.
The episode aired. My team and I won the challenge, and XM radio debuted “One of the Ones” to the world. I was invited to share the XM stage with legends like Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, etc. Songs were used on “Days of Our Lives”, “Young and the Restless”, and a compilation CD for Columbia Records. “I Should Go” garnered radio attention and live national performances. All in all, $400 dollars and a lot of stubbornness started what I just keep trying to build on everyday. Come to think of it, maybe this is my favorite CD as well.