Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Ra SHAWN-DA-PROFESSOR

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AN CONVERSATION WITH SOUL SINGER NOEL GOURDIN

While I was interviewing Soul singer/songwriter Noel Gourdin, this past winter, it felt as though we were cool brothers having a conversation, and it was his cool, spiritual, down to earth personality, that's making him one of the industries hottest singers to hit the scene along with his talented vocals and pen game. The Massacheuttes born singer has gained a following with her two releases, including "Fresh The Definition" which earned him a well-deserved Urban Music award, and is still doing well since it's release last year. I had the honor of speaking with Gourdin via telephone shortly before he boarding a plane to visit family about his career, seeking another deal, lack of support Soul Music is receiving, and his plans to be true to himself. 

DA-PROFESSOR: Thanks for the opportunity. How have 2012 been going for you?
NOEL: It's been going great. Just to be alive first and foremost. To be able to spend the holidays with my family is a tremendous blessing. Looking forward to newer and bigger things. Already started writing for the next project. My deal with my label is up the middle of the month, so we're out there entertaining new deals.

DA-PROFESSOR: How did you become involved in singing?
NOEL: At a young age, no one could keep me from my pops. No one could keep me from hanging with my pops, so whenever he was in the house, I was in his right pocket. So whenever he would get in the car, he was playing that old soul music, in which is the best music because of the authenticity you feel and hear with the voice and instruments. So pure. Marvin Gaye. Otis Redding. Al Green. Jerry Butler. All the great soul groups that came from that time. The Temptations. The Chi-Lites. Blue Magic. Real groups from that nature. Just that music that gave me that feeling when I was young, and I knew when it was my time, I wanted to make music on my own. I wanted people to feel the way that I felt.

 DA-PROFESSOR: Which singers inspired you?
 NOEL: I have to say Sam Cooke. Marvin Gaye. Otis Redding. I have to say from my own era, Prince. They can make all types of music, and have that authentic feel to it. It's not like they're stepping out their box. That's what I admire about those artists.

 DA-PROFESSOR: I noticed that your music has a Southern vibe. What inspired you to do that?
NOEL: Well that's just me. I was born in Boston, but my family's from Mississippi, so I spend a lot of time down there myself. My family (and) my cousins. It's in me When ever I went down south, I would love to sit on the porch and listen to stories to the way things were back in the day from the old folks. The difference between growing up in the south as opposed to being in the north. I've always had that southern thing. 

DA-PROFESSOR: You're current CD "Fresh The Definition" is great. What prompted you to title the CD that name?
 NOEL: Well that was my latest CD. My latest album was Fresh The Definition. My first album with Sony was "After My Time." After I did "After My Time" with Sony, it was a little bit of a struggle to get the album to come out and represent the music I wanted to be released. The music I wanted to be represented that the people wanted. Moving out of that we parted ways because of differences. I slipped into a deep depression for a little bit, and that was about 6 months. I wasn't in touch with my family, and if anybody that knows me Ra Shawn, is that my family is # 1 to me. I fell out of touch with God. Wasn't going to church, and praying like I usually was, but an intervention with my family changed. 'Get off your booty.' 'Start making music again.' My brother sat me in front of the computer and showed me the views my videos got. That's when I started writing, looking for deals, and I had it in my head that I wanted to be called fresh. Cause fresh is almost a throwback word, but it's coming back around. I looked at the definition, and I wanted to get out this funk I'm in and I felt jubilated as an artist and a man coming out of darkness. I was in the studio with Courtney Harrell, who sings on "Save Our Love" and written on the album said why don't you call the album 'Fresh The Definition. It just stuck.

 DA-PROFESSOR: I was gonna ask you about Courtney. You sound wonderful together. Do you plan on doing any more recordings together?
NOEL: Absolutely. She's on the low right now writing for other artists. I just got in touch with her on twitter the other day and told her it's about that time we start working on the next album. She said she's so looking forward to it. We have great chemistry in the studio. We actually recorded that at the same time. Like old school. It comes out real authentic and that throw back feel. That Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell vibe. 

DA-PROFESSOR: Another favorite song I like is "In Love". I love how the sound has the clock sound and the lyrics about grits and eggs. What was the inspiration for that song?
NOEL: The record right there I did that with Alvin Garrett from Birmingham. Mr. Alvin Cornbread Garrett is a songwriter and producer/ He brought it to the studio and was playing a record that he did with a female. Not exactly the same record with the same lyrics but the same music. I said i don't wanna be disrespectful, but we have to do something with this and the lyrics you wrote for her. We changed up the lyrics of course and the music is the same, bit it was something there Ra Shawn, when the music kicked up, it made me smile. It almost that chitling circuit soul feel on it. It's actually one of my favorite songs on the record.

 DA-PROFESSOR: Another song I like is "Not Around" which you co-wrote. What was the inspiration for that song?
NOEL: Well the track was done by The Heavyweights. That was produced by Reo. I wrote that with Cornbread from Birmingham, Alabama. The feel of the record is such a real throw back reel. That's what I was trying to accomplish with this album. The throwback feel is still being relevant this time. It's about appreciating what you have when she's around. Just that feeling of desperation and that's the reason it got responded to well on the radio. It's not given the light of day like alot of music is today and I think it should, but it's a testament that people want to hear something different.

 DA-PROFESSOR: The lead single "Beautiful" which talked about how guys are calling women degrading and street names. When the single dropped, did you get any flack from the males about showing women in a positive light?
NOEL: Well I mean I did. It's really wasn't thinking about things like that. It was really to see how music is today and how music is in the spotlight and on the radio. There's so much music out there that is condescending to woman; calling women out their names like you said Ra Shawn and it's so degrading. Ryan Toby which is a genius songwriter and former of City High and an actor as well. I thought it was time to give back that old-fashion respect to our women across the board; that's what the record was about, and to see it on top of the Billboard charts is like I said about "Not Around" people wanna see something different. Try to hustle to that classic music and the concepts. I feel like it was a great choice on our part to put that out as the lead single.

DA-PROFESSOR: My all time favorite song of yours is "Summertime" which is on your first album. What was your reaction when you first heard the track?
NOEL: It was such an organic record. It was so sexy (and) so sultry, and that's what I'm all about. I'm all about taking pride on making music, always trying to resemble love because there is so much violence and things of that nature. I think what's what we can stand; a little bit more of love. And it wasn't a lot to it. I remember recording that in Miami; it was incredible to be out in Miami for the first time in my life, and then getting into the studio to record a record like that. The whole label was going crazy over it. It was really good and I'll never forget that moment when we recorded it.

 DA-PROFESSOR: Noel, You brought up a good point about the music industry and how singers who are talented, but because they're not disrespecting women and using auto-tunes aren't getting the push or promotions unless it's (done) overseas. How does that make you feel as an artist who wants to make music that makes people feel good?
 NOEL: It's disheartening Ra Shawn. It seems like when you get to the point of making music that's respectful and you can listen to it from your 2-year old on to your 92-year old grandmother and great-grandmother and pappy. And you have all this music out there that's disrespectful, It's (almost) seems like you have to be dabbling into some bad things; drugs, or breaking up happy homes, infidelity or this or that to be in the limelight. It's sad. It's disheartening as an artist. I have a clean record. I've never been arrested. I've never done drugs. It's crazy that people will consider that non-interesting. It is the way it is. I will continue to make good music. Music that will be respectful. That will have great concepts and just respectful because I respect this music, and I have so much integrity. whatever I get in this life and the joy I get from making music and seeing people lip-synch while I'm onstage it's so much greater than money. I'm making the music that God blessed me to make. It's disheartening and they say Ra Shawn, things get worse before they get better, so let's just hope that in 2012 the music industry will get better.

 DA-PROFESSOR: I feel you. You had also performed at Stevie Wonder's benefit concert. What was that like performing with him?
 NOEL: Man I gotta tell you, it was incredible. First of all, performing for his radio station earlier. In the years, he had come out to check me out. He invited me over to his table with his wife, and getting a chance to meet him and him saying that he respects my music and the way it's written and the arrangements and Ra Shawn I gotta tell you I nearly fainted. I was like 'wow!' This is the legendary Stevie Wonder giving me his props and I gotta tell you this is a man who got a lot of hit records that I can't even remember. It was incredible to be invited to his annual House Filled of Toys annual toy drive, which I couldn't have been happier. Seeing Michael Mc Donald, Uncle Charlie. Charlie Wilson. Faith Evans who is one of my favorites. Justin Beiber. Angela Winbush. It was incredible. I can't say with words how great it was. I'm looking forward to this new year.

 DA-PROFESSOR: You said you're looking for a new deal. Did you have an falling out with your label? NOEL: Naw. It's not like that. I probably shouldn't be saying this, but I think that a lot of things that should have been done as far as marketing wise. Things happen. It's all good and I feel that the music I put together should have gotten more respect then it got. I'm a little bit disappointed, but life is full of disappointments and it's all in the way you pick yourself up and start over. It's all about faith. that's what the last sermon by Pastor Ford. That's what he said. Keep the faith.

 DA-PROFESSOR: If you had the opportunity to work with any legendary performer, who would it be? NOEL: Wow. I have to say Marvin Cooke, and I've said that a few times (laughs). I have to put Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke together and it's because of their voices, their styles and the way they went about making music. It didn't seem like it was being forced at all. It wasn't about them making up a hot ring tone. It was just making music from their heart and soul. That music is still around today. People are going crazy of buying special editions today. When I leave the industry or can't sing, I want people to remember me by the quality that I made.

 DA-PROFESSOR: You included a bit of the lyrics from Marvin Gaye's classic Sexual Healing. From your perspective why is that song a classic and still relevant?
 NOEL: Because it wasn't dirty. It was very sexy. It was very sultry, but anybody could listen to it. Even children could listen to it That was the testament of the times the way music was made back them. Think of the title 'Sexual Healing' I don't think that you want your daughter, God daughter, niece or nephew to be sitting near the radio without you monitoring the box. It's sultry and the respect that music was made with. It's hard to explain what Soul is but the music in the past is so special and I'm (so) trying to recreate that every time I create an album.

 DA-PROFESSOR: How you feel you're making an impact on the music industry?
 NOEL: I figure I'm making an impact, first of all making music that is respectful and music with concepts. Another reason is I have a spiritual undertone. That I mind. Anything I make is not crap and is not disrespectful towards women. I try to make music that is maintaining that legacy. That was put back years and years ago. That's what I take pride in; making music for everybody all ages from 2 to 92. That's what I pride myself in and I will not jeopardized my integrity of music to make a dollar. I was raised a certain way, and there is a lot of artists who have lost themselves even in success or somebody else. It's sad to see that, but I'm gonna be myself.

DA-PROFESSOR: Good point. I was coming home on the train one night and I happened to pull out your CD and these guys were like that CD is hot.
 NOEL: Are you serious?

DA-PROFESSOR: Yes, and they had to be between 21 and 24, and they were like that CD is hot!! NOEL: You see what I'm saying? That's what I'm talking about. That's what it's about man. That's the reason why I make music that I'm making. It's so important to me. There's some people who be in the studio for a month and a half and just make an album. The length of time is not so important but I wanna make sure I got the right records to put on an album; it has to be cohesive flow to the whole album it makes sure people feel when people listen to it for the first, second and third time, so that means a lot. I appreciate you letting me know that.
 DA-PROFESSOR: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
 NOEL: I love to be making records and giving back to the community because before I really got deep into this music thing, I was working in group homes, and making a difference in people's lives, so I wanna continue doing that and I've always looking to get into some acting. I believe I can do that. And writing for other artists is another passion of mine. I like to write.

 DA-PROFESSOR: You're from Massachusetts, the state that produced legends Donna Summer and New Edition are also from. How do you feel that you're gonna add to the legacy that Donna and New Edition left. NOEL: It was always proving something that Massachusetts has a lot of talent. It gets overshadowed by New York. New York is the mecca; you can make it big. You can make it anywhere, but there is a tremendous amount of talent in Massachusetts. Hopefully in the years to come, we can build something there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

JIGGA SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE WHILE HIS WIFE SAYS NOTHING

Rapper Jay-Z is really getting respect from his fans. When he was asked during an interview his views on gay-marriage, he reply was "I always thought it's something that is still holding the country back. It's no different then discriminating against Blacks. It's still discrimination." It makes feel great that an Iconic male figure in Hip-Hop is taking a stand for same sex couples to marry and talking about how it's wrong for people to discriminate just because two people of the same sex are naturally attracted to each other. Since the early 1990's many Gay clubs began to spin records by many Hip-Hop, R&B, New Jack Swing and Dance hall artists, and Jigga's music gets lots of spins that has many gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgenders on the floor, bopping their heads and dancing with their drinks in their hands to his joints. It's also a good move due to the homophobia that's in the Hip-Hop industry with several rappers like DMX and Eminem who are known for their homophobic lyrics as well as other artists including 50 Cent who have publicly stated how they don't like gays, while others including rapper Trick Trick have publicly stated how they don't want gays buying their music. This should hopefully show the gays who to support, and while Jay-Z has spoke out against discrimination, his wife Beyonce Knowels hasn't said anything or lend any support, and I'm not surprised that the former lead singer of Destiny's Child is keeping her mouth shut on this issue like she did when many others was speaking against bullying in 2010. Beyonce was forced to embrace and respect the community. In 2003, during an interview with The Sun she was quoted saying that God says that a woman is not supposed to kiss a woman when asked about the performance where Madonna kissed Soul singer Christina Aguleria and Pop singer Britney Spears. Knowels, who married Jigga in 2008 did post a statement on her website saying that her comment was taken out of context and that she loves her gay fans. Well regardless she has many gays who worship the ground she walks on and idolize her like's she's a God, but in 2010 when many Gay teens and young adults were committing suicide, she did not offer any support from what I know to give hope and comfort while others including Janet Jackson, Lala Anthony and Ciara did PSA's to let their fans know that they don't have to end their lives due to other people's ignorance, issues and isms. If she's donates money privately to charities it's fine, but if Beyonce really and truly cares about her gay fans, then it would have been nice for her to given a statement during the gay's time of need.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SINGER'S NEW SINGLE TAKES CHEATING TO A NEW LEVEL

GEPETTO JACKSON FEATURING B HOWARD TAKE YOUR RING OFF 4.2 For the past couple of decades, many artist have recorded songs about cheating, and having affairs. From Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones, to Guy's "Piece of My Love" to Remedy's "Trippen," many listeners have gotten excited over songs about infidelitey, and Florida-based singer/songwriter/designer Gepetto Jackson's latest single "Take Your Ring Off" takes the cheating to another level. The song begins with a nice synsersized strings, keyboards and Jackson singing in a raspy, yet smooth tenor, which gives the song a romantic and sexy feel, while singer Howard B who's vocals towards the middle could have been out more adds the emotional and sexy climax with his soulful pop vocals. Jackson's rap performance is good, but the vocals at the beginning needs to be out more, but it improves towards the end, while the spoken segment compensates for the loss as the song's lyrics and catchy hook. A great song that will be a hit with folks who wanna get their groove on with a married person, and I would love to hear a female version of this song. Warning: For those who wanna creep make sure you use protection to avoid any complications.