*Sometimes it’s difficult to believe, but Calvin Richardson has been in the music business since 1999. Back then he was the soulful up and comer over at Universal.
Though his talent was apparent, his debut CD, “Country Boy,” only sold around 100,000 copies and he was subsequently let go. He later signed with Hollywood Records where he scored a minor hit with “More Than A Woman” featuring Angie Stone.
After releasing “Facts of Life: Soul of Bobby Womack,” Richardson recently released “America’s Most Wanted,” his fifth studio album in a 11 year career. He told our Lee Bailey about how much love he’s been getting.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Richardson. “The consensus from everybody that has heard the album is good. Everybody is pleased with it. Everybody is really feeling the album. That’s what I make music for.”
Richardson has worked with the likes of Raphael Saadiq, Angie Stone and Babyface. His lack of huge career success is a little baffling because his talent is obvious. At the end of October ‘America’s Most Wanted’ was already the third most added R&B song on urban radio and, according to Richardson, they weren’t slated for adds until a week later. Contrary to what some may remember of Calvin’s style, his CD’s title track is an uptempo offering.
“America’s Most Wanted, to me, is the soundtrack of my life and I think it will be the soundtrack to a lot of people’s life,” said Richardson. “We can’t drag our way through life, you know? You’ve got to pick it up a little bit, give it a little bit of tempo.”
Those that are familiar with Richardson’s sound can attest to his old school flavor. The North Carolina native tells EURweb.com it’s no accident.
“I grew up listening to Bobby Womack and when I started with ‘Country Boy’ (Universal) I did a cover of one of his songs called ‘I Wish You Didn’t Trust Me So Much’ and the reason why I did it was to try to give people a little of my background and who I was following. I’ve been growing up on that stuff from an early age and his style just sort of got into my system.
“It was my mother’s brothers that got me into it,” he explained. “My mother was a gospel singer, not professionally but if there was any music being played in my house it was gospel. When I got to go visit my cousins and hang out over there with my uncles, they were on the wild side. It was always going down over there. So, Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke and all that type of music is what they played.”
Listening to Richardson break down the list of people he feels influenced him is like an encyclopedia of the most soulful crooners of all time.
“I really don’t know why that music spoke to me,” Calvin told our Lee Bailey. “I think it was growing up and my background being in the church, singing gospel music all the time, hearing it and the way it made people feel. That soul music and the type of music that Sam, Marvin, Bobby and all of them guys were singing made people feel a similar way.”
Richardson’s talents as a singer and songwriter are all too apparent, and you know you’re the man when you can pen a hit for someone else. Charlie Wilson’s “There Goes My Baby” was originally written by Richardson and Babyface for Calvin’s second Hollywood Records release. But, as fate would have it, Wilson would be the one to make it famous in the United States.
“I think it is awesome at this point,” said Richardson of Wilson’s take on the song he helped craft. “I think everyone who was around me and Babyface when we wrote that song together knew it was a hit when we wrote it. But I was on Hollywood Records working on the second album at the time. A lot of things came into play that stopped the album from coming out. The record just got shelved. I knew in my heart of hearts that was a hit record. When Charlie got wind of it he took and did with it what I knew it would do.”
Charlie Wilson straight up put his mark on that song and one would be hard pressed to imagine anyone but Charlie singing. But that’s only if you live in the United States. It’s a differently story if you’re from Great Britain.
“It leaked over in the U.K. I put it up on a MySpace page years ago and the pirates over in London got it, then the BBC started playing it. That record became a hit over in the England for me. I went back and forth to the U.K. for a few years because of that song. We wrote that in 2005.”
But there is more than one way to skin a song title, or so it appears. We asked Richardson his thoughts on Usher’s “There Goes My Baby.”
“Obviously he heard it and thought that he could take it to another level,” said Richardson of Mr. Raymond’s hit song. “He understood that it was a great punchline and he took a spin off of it. There’s no doubt about it, that’s what happened. You know, it’s a great thing, man. I’m not mad at him. He introduced it to a much younger demographic and it’s done great for him as well. The hook is the only connection, and that’s what the song is. “There goes my baby” that’s what it is. You can go and take a deeper look and look at the lyrics, versus and what have you. But the hook is what gets you.”
The fact that Calvin Richardson chose not to go into litigation in an industry were litigation is the norm would appear to be a noble move, but it was also the smart move.
“I should have, but I didn’t,” smiled Richardson. “I’m not mad, but I am a business man. They’re lucky I didn’t come after them for that, you know what I’m saying? I’m sure there’s the question of the copyright infringement in there somewhere. At the end of the day he did a great job with his, but I’m not sure where else they could have said they pulled that from. But, you know, come on now. I’m just so focused on doing what I’m doing, and I didn’t want to stop what I’m doing and go chasing something over there. Also, Usher is a much bigger artist than myself so I didn’t want to necessarily take on that fight.”
Richardson says he’s trying to do him right about now. He’s really focused on expanding his own thing. Part of doing his own thing was a recent appearance on Tom Joyner’s In Studio Jams.
“I was on the Tom Joyner In Studio Jams and I had to be up 3 o’clock in the morning and in the studio by 4:30 and performing by 5:30. I know that Tom Joyner is syndicated and people listen to (and watch) him all over the world (via the Internet). So, that was obviously a great plug for me. That’s the main thing for me, focusing on branding Calvin Richardson. Everything that I think can be of benefit to me I just try to get on to it and ride it into the ground.”
In addition to that grind, Richardson told our Lee Bailey of another grind he jumped on recently.
“The Capital Jazz Cruise has maybe 30 artists on it, including Teena Marie, Will Downing. Man, they’re going to be doing 3 or 4 shows per day. The ship is pretty big and so it will be in different rooms so it will be my first time out on the Capital Jazz Cruise and I look forward to being a part of it. I look forward to being a part of it.”
Sometimes the listening public isn’t aware of how difficult it is to get a song into heavy rotation. That goes doubly so for independent artists. In retrospect we feel Richardson’s prior label homes’ refusal to properly market him is what has hurt him in the past. With his new radio gig Richardson might be able to alleviate some of his, and other talented and over looked artists, lack of rotation.
“That is true. It (started) November 3rd. It’s called the Soul Safe Session,” Richardson explained. “It’s on CBS V101.9 in Charlotte, North Carolina WBAV. Somebody was looking for me to do a show at a smaller station down here, and I contacted (WBAV’s Program Director) Terry Avery to see whether it was going to be in conflict with her because she does really well with my records when they come out and she’s been supporting me. So she told me to come on down so we could discuss some things. Basically I’ll be playing songs from the Top 20. It will be a live show, but I’m only going to be doing one a week.”
We have been around covering Calvin Richardson’s career since way back and we wish him all the best. Most music fans already know, unfortunately, it’s not always the most talented amongst us that succeeds. Richardson appears to be all about his grind and things appear to be in line for a successful album.
For more on Calvin Richardson log on to www.iamcalvinrichardson.com. While you’re there you can find out about ‘An Intimiate Affair with Calvin Richardson’. *One lucky winner will win a chance to gain all access to Richardson for a whole weekend. The event will be held Nov. 19 and 20. For those who would rather not try their luck in the contest, a limited number of tickets are available for purchase by calling Nit-2-Winit Promotions at 980-225-5285. Weekend and Single Day pricing is available.
“I rented this house up on the lake,” said Richardson. “Lake Norman in Charlotte and I’m doing two nights and I’m going to have a band there. It’s a real big house so we’re going to open the doors, allow them to come in. So, basically it’ll be a few of my friends of mine and the fans. It’s a home setting; we’ll have a DJ, maybe some people doing poetry. We got a hot tub out there and a boat backed up to the water. It’ll be November 19th and 20th so I don’t know about messing with that water, it might be cold. We get a chance to sit and mingle and have conversation, get to know me a little better. That Saturday I’m going to do a cookout during the day starting around 3 o’clock. We’re going to allow a couple of people to stay the night, but they just gonna to have to pay extra for that.”
*Perhaps we should clarify. Not all access to Richardson, per se, but to the house, etc. 🙂 And for more on Calvin’s getaway weekend, go here.