How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
Road trip was conceived during a discussion with my management on what it’s like to be on the road. We use to call it “one tank trips”. Like most musicians, I love being in front of my fans, no matter where they are in the world. I recall someone telling me once “What You Are is Where You Were When”, which to me was the essence of this project, a reflection of the places I have been and people I have met. I wanted to do a project like this for years, with a lot of encouragement from my fans, friends, and family, I paused to put my experiences to music.
What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?
roove, Melody, and Personality.
Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments:
There're a few that really stands out. Cape Town South Africa would be at the top of the list. I was fortunate enough to share the stage with some of the best artisit out there, Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler, and my favorite saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Cape Town South Africa was a life changing experience. From the time my feet touched the ground, I felt a sense of belonging, the heritage is rich and the people are incredible. When we hit the stage, I felt a warm embrace from the people, the whole tour made me feel like I could give more of myself. Another tour that stands out was the Cotton Club in Tokyo, Japan. The emotional connection I felt with the fans proved to me that math and music is a universal language. As a songwriter and producer, you are always concerned that what you created won’t connect to the audience; it’s like a reality check. When you have an engaged audience, like those at the Cotton Club, it lets you know you’re on the right track. There are so many places and people I’ve encountered and who gave me great memories, so I had to tell it in a song called "My Story"
How would you finish this sentence?
I don't like to go a day without letting the people I love know it. I believe my music is another avenue to communicate that. That might be the reason I enjoy the creative process so much, it gives me a far reaching voice to communicate my feelings.
What would be the most important piece of advice you'd impart to a young musician just starting out in the jazz/smooth Jazz arena?
Creating rituals are essential to a healthy learning environment. I would tell them to start their journey by researching the history of jazz. The foundation and technical complexity of jazz goes much deeper than some of the more popular/programmed styles of music. I would also encourage them to listen to all forms of music. The lesson will be to find your own voice. When I was starting out, I wanted to be a top 40 style musician, I recall my father saying, if you can play jazz, you will be able to play any form of music. He also expressed to me the importance of learning to read and write music, that advice has served me well. When you combine your natural talents with your formal learning, you will find your niche. I would also address the importance of practicing your craft. If you are serious about being a good musician, or singer for that fact, you have to put in the time. Being a great musician shouldn’t feel like work, if you are doing something you love, it should be easy to dedicate the needed time to be proficient at your craft.
What are some of the most important goals you have for yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
In the next 5 to 10 years, I would like to have established my record label (GrapevineSquare), production company, and performing arts school. I hope to have toured the country with great musicians, playing great songs, hopefully those I have had a hand in the creative process. And most importantly, I would like to have established a mentoring program to give back to the aspiring young talent we have. I believe being in a position to give back to our community would be a significant accomplishment.