This April Will Downing held an exclusive listening party for press and bloggers and it was quite candid. He began by telling us the story of how he sat all day just listening to the radio o catch the Change recording. He wanted to know just who had that phenomenal voice in this group. Therefore it wasn’t until he attended a strange line up concert featuring Larry Graham, Tons of Fun and of course the group Change. It was his first time witnessing the great Luther Vandross who has influenced him greatly and we can attest to that by hearing how personal his songs are.
Downing’s style hasn’t changed that much over the past 25 years with his silky soul baritone jazz appeal. He categorizes himself as a mid-tempo singer/songwriter with quality music. Over the years he has captured the hearts of many and has quite a following throughout the world. He was with a major label for 23 years and admits how the label wanted him to follow the “trend” but this Brooklyn native just wasn’t quite feeling that. As a result he has gone independent and feels like the Janet Jackson song, has Control. However he is quick to make mention that he feels that the Majors have a further reach. He believes there is no easy way in maintaining a constant presence in this industry. While he does not knock them, shows such as American Idol and the Voice are not overall reality. “You have to pay your dues and learn your craft and do something first.” What a profound statement.
He goes on to tell us a story about a track date he and his group had at a club in Newark where people actually turned their backs and booed them because they were interrupting their party time. Therefore when people started to pay him money to perform as a solo artist was a blessed moment in his life. He can still recall the first time he heard himself on the radio and it was a dance tune. To this day he still gets excited when he hears himself on the radio and says that it is the kid in him.
In 2007 he suffered with a debilitating auto immune disease where he could not walk or sing and it was during this time that he reacquainted himself with GOD. Hence he became more in tune with his spiritual side and began listening to more Inspirational pieces. The CD Silver was born out of this life changing experience and written as a celebration of his 25 years of singing. His triumphant album After Tonight was actually recorded while he was still wheelchair bound and that in itself speaks volumes to say that I can continue to use the gifts that God has given me and live above my circumstances. Life is too short for excuses.
When Downing got back on his feet he knew that one of his purposes was to continue making quality music. Lord knows he has done just that with such memorable duets with Rachelle Ferrell, Anisha Parris and Chante Moore to name a few. Ladies that he would love to record with are Lalah Hathaway who he has done several live shows with as well as Anita Baker. Just putting that out there into the atmosphere. This project Euphoria is a tribute with covers and he reconnected with his longtime pal Gerald Albright on this. The two had experienced success in 2003 with the cover version of legend Aretha Franklin’s timeless classic piece Daydreaming which is still playing the airwaves. In fact I heard it just this morning.
Downing’s latest project Euphoria consists of covers by some of his favorite and credits Dyana Williams for its name. She is a celebrity strategist, veteran broadcaster, and music ambassador out of Philadelphia who has titled many of his projects. He let her listen to the project and asked her how did it make her feel and she responded that it put her in a euphoric state.
On this incredible CD you will hear Downing pushing the envelope by singing in Portuguese, doing his first blues piece, covering Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Stevie Wonder, Hall and Oates, Billy Strayhorn, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman’s Lush Life to name a few. He features keyboardist Chris ”Big Dog” Davis, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, brass ensemble Chops Horns and saxophonists Gerald Albright and Najee. This is a classic piece that music lovers must add to their collection. Will Downing is also an Author and Photographer of the art book Unveiled Series 1 which features emerging African American artists available on www.amazon.com The CD Euphoria is available at Best Buys stores and online at www.amazon.com and www.itunes.com For additional information on Will Downing and his various projects including his radio show explore his site. www.willdowning.com