Producer/Songwriter/Musician/Music Lover/African American/Outgoing/Charismatic/Funny/Christian/ Student/Survivor/Dreamer/Analytical/Creator
There are two people close to my heart, who helped mold me into the person I am today; my mother and great grandma. My mother raised me for most of my life on her own and I admire her strength and the sacrifices she made for me. All the dreams and aspirations she deferred to insure my well-being. Her faith, commitment, and belief in Jesus Christ is highly inspiring and has influenced my entire family.
My Great Grandma was born in 1909, in North Carolina. She lived through so many major time periods in history, such as the Great Depression (with 5 Children). She was also involved in the March on Washington and was in attendance for the “I have A Dream Speech”. Having her around when I grew up was huge for me. She instilled discipline, the importance of a routine, and strong faith.
Not only have I been inspired by people I am personally close to, but I have also greatly been influenced by other great musical phenomenons and their impact on the industry. Berry Gordy’s sense of creating within his community and creating a whole genre (Motown) sound. Stevie Wonder’s ability to make you visualize what he sings and plays. Nat King Cole’s strength to break through barriers for African-American artists and the fact that the Capitol Record building in Hollywood was built off of the strength of his record sales and impact. Lastly but not least, Sam Cook’s business acumen to know the power in owning your name, songs, and lyrics has propelled me to stake more of a claim on the business side of my artistry.
I was always raised around music. My mother is a classically trained vocalist and my father is a music teacher who has his master’s degree in music. But I did not recognize my own power until I was in high school and we had an assembly where I performed in front of the entire student body. It was then at that moment that I recognized that I might possess something special.
When I fully committed to the idea of creating and producing, I received the opportunity of a lifetime to be mentored by one of the most successful and accomplished musicians in the world, Rickey Minor. I got the opportunity to go to the Jay Leno Show and watch him first hand flourish and operate in excellence at the highest level. After that groundbreaking performance, he charged me to not become stagnant and comfortable at the level I was at by continuing to grow and learn. I was amazed to discover that he still took lessons even though he was at the top. So I committed to working 10,000 hours on my craft to strive for greatness. My intense dedication prepared me for the great opportunities that have come since that time, such as performing at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles numerous times.
Although the world of music is passionate, I quickly learned that I cannot solely view this work through rose colored glasses. Often times in music production and music in general there is a lack of integrity.When I first started to make some noise in the industry on a production level, I was approached by a producer (who I won’t name) that told me they wanted to mentor and help me succeed as a person of color in the industry.
Unfortunately, he took credit for ideas and tracks that I created but since I was lacking in music business experience, and naive to the nature of the beast, I was not credited. This experience drove me to stop making music because of a lack of trust with the industry. But like any other tough experience I had 2 options either 1) quit and back down, or 2) rise up, inform and learn so that would not happen again. I decided upon the latter. At the time, working with that producer looked like the best opportunity I would see, but God has opened doors that I’m not even qualified for because of faith and drive.
This initial ill-fated event, developed into a beautiful outcome. It has invigorated one of the missions I feel I have been charged with, which is bringing integrity back to music. I would like to think that my legacy will be of a young African American male that showed persistence and integrity in the music industry in a time where a lot of people will sell their art, name, sound, for a quick pay day. Hereafter, I will be someone who was a resource to other musicians and producers and as an inspiration to continue and thrive like so many have influenced me.
I plan on doing that by positioning myself to share my experiences and truly mentor the next generation of creators by keeping this in mind, “Above all be true to thine own self”. I want creatives to never give up their character and or integrity for a quick, temporary win. Keep the same drive and consistency through all seasons life has to offer whether it’s harvest or a drought, atop the mountain or in the valley.
In 2018, I am being very intentional about sharing any experiences and lessons that I have learned with peers and the next generation. Some of the ways I am able to do that is by working with the Grammy Museum in their educational programs. I work with the Grammy Camp every summer to help instill the next generation of talent with what they need. If something I say or show them helps them avoid a similar pitfall I went through, then I am closer to fulfilling my legacy. Whether that is about the business of music (which unfortunately many are unaware of), or on how to own live your art.
By being a mentor and inspiration, I also need to practice what I preach by holding myself to high bar of drive and consistency. Therefore, I have some music that I am currently pitching to some major artist for placement on their albums and am very much looking forward to increasing the reach of my music.
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