Hartford, CT - June Archer has been one of Hartford’s major influencers on the music scene since 1995, when he was in the R&B group Room Service. Their hit song, “Ain’t Nothing Wrong” appeared on television and radio outlets throughout the country. The group disbanded shortly after but the knowledge that June gained in the process he decided he would use to uplift and create change in his city.
June fell in love with the business of music. Over the last 15 years he has been able to work with and/or produce platinum artists like Luther Vandross, Beyonce, Tyrese, 50 Cent, and Omarion. Since he understood the struggle that Connecticut artists faced getting themselves recognized, he decided to use his knowledge and connections to help other CT artists achieve success.
His vision was to bring a “Showcase at the Apollo” like event to Connecticut’s capital city thus; Hot Chocolate Soul (HCS) was born. HCS is a live production showcasing Music, Comedy and Poetry backed by the Karl Browne and Smooth Improvisation Band. The event highlights Hartford and surrounding area’s most talented rising stars.
Hot Chocolate Soul is an intimate, grown and sexy affair that anyone with a passion for the arts will enjoy. June along with featured artists and co-hosts, have guests jumping out of their seats dancing and singing along with the music. The crowed creates an interactive, warm and inviting atmosphere that enhances the performances and encourages the performers to deliver their best.
This month HCS celebrated an impressive 10 years running with a season finale filled with standing ovations, tickled laughter, symphonic sounds and unexpected surprises. Closing with an announcement that HCS will be returning next season and it will be televised!
The show being televised will bring national attention to the countless emerging talented artists in the state. June’s selflessness and commitment to the community has opened a window of opportunity that this city has never seen before. He is on a mission to achieve and create greatness and there ain’t no stopping him now…he says, “No goal is ever out of reach, once you’ve realized your dream, that doesn’t mean you stop. It just means you dream bigger.”
What inspired the idea of Hot Chocolate Soul?
I was inspired to create a platform for unsigned and independent artists after being on tour with my group Room Service. I found that everywhere we traveled there was a venue for artists to showcase their talent. Our only opportunity to get discovered was to travel to New York and perform at the Apollo Theater. We did all the talent shows possible but outgrew them as we realized there was a world outside of Hartford, CT.
What made you choose the Bushnell Theater for the venue?
The Bushnell Theater was a dream as people kept telling me that The Bushnell Theater would never allow me to do anything there, much less bring people of color there. Since 2001 HCS has been the longest running event of its kind and responsible for pushing the envelope and opening the door for events that cater to an African American and Hispanic demographic. HCS was growing every other month. We started at The Equator from 40 people to, The Hartford Club, 88 Pratt St, The Collonade Ballroom, The Bond Ballroom and then The Bushnell.
How many local artists have you been able to showcase through the event over the last 10 years?
Over the past 10 years we've showcased the most artists in New England including NYC. HCS showcases 12-15 artists a month for 10 years. Not many can say they've accomplished that and we're proud to know we have given these artists such a great platform to share their gifts.
How many celebrities have you been able to bring to Hartford through the event?
Because of HCS and my relationships in the music business we've had the opportunity to have artists such as Musiq Soulchild, Joe, CJ Hilton, Marc Dorsey, Silk, Cheryl "Pepsi" Riley, Melonie Daniels and Ryan Shaw grace the stage at the Bushnell.
Have any artists that have performed at HCS gone on to have a record deal or obtain so type of “celebrity” status?
There have been a few artists that have went on to write songs that went Gold and Platinum for artists Omarion and Mario. These artists have also been a part of the HCS family.
There has been talk of televising Hot Chocolate Soul, can you give any details on that?
We are going to shoot a pilot episode and see what happens from there. I am very excited as we are hoping to set a new trend in television by getting back to the music and live performances.
How will the next 10 years be different for HCS?
I pray the next 10 years become so exciting that we will be the ones to break in new artists and help bring music back to the forefront with real music and real artists.