Marshall Titus - S.A.L.L. (Send a Little Love)

Marshall Titus
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Marshall Titus has done it all, and much of what this Chicago-based blues rocker accomplished was done while he was hidden in plain sight. Titus’s vocals earned him a finalist in the male vocal category on Star Search, which was the late 80s and 90s version of American Idol, with Ed McMahon serving in the role that made Ryan Seacrest famous.

Titus didn’t become a star, but his gifts as a vocalist and actor did not go unnoticed. He worked on stage – playing the role of James “Thunder” Early in a production of  Dreamgirls – and he also sang jingles on numerous commercials for name brand products such as Coca Cola. Titus acted on the small and big screens, most notably landing role as Customer Joe in the film Barbershop.

Marshall Titus has done it all, and much of what this Chicago-based blues rocker accomplished was done while he was hidden in plain sight. Titus’s vocals earned him a finalist in the male vocal category on Star Search, which was the late 80s and 90s version of American Idol, with Ed McMahon serving in the role that made Ryan Seacrest famous.

Titus didn’t become a star, but his gifts as a vocalist and actor did not go unnoticed. He worked on stage – playing the role of James “Thunder” Early in a production of  Dreamgirls – and he also sang jingles on numerous commercials for name brand products such as Coca Cola. Titus acted on the small and big screens, most notably landing role as Customer Joe in the film Barbershop.

By the time Barbershop reached the multiplex in 2002, it became clear that tastes were moving away from Titus’s church influenced gravely baritone and his preferred style of music that blended blues with genres ranging from rock, funk and pop. In fact, Titus was already working overseas – mainly in Europe – by the late 1990s.

Titus currently resides in Germany, and in an environment that is far more welcoming of what he brings to the table, he released S.A.L.L. - a project that will find a ready audience of blues/rock and southern soul music fans both in America and around the world.

SoulTracks treated fans to a sample of S.A.L.L. with a First Listen of the very good classic soul/pop ballad “Even If” late last month. This cut serves as showcase of the tenderness and honesty that Titus can bring to a lyric and listeners will understand why he reached the Star Search finals back in the day.

As life and the road has put a little bit of leather and whiskey into Titus’s voice, it becomes clear that blues and southern soul will be an ideal vehicle, and the singer gives fans plenty to choose from. Titus possesses more than a little Johnny Taylor with the gravel in the voice that loses none of its power and emotion when the vocalist moves from the gravel road to the tree tops, as he does on “Beezthatwaysometime.” This track combines a funk infused bass line with gospel inspired electric organ work and lyrics about a man confronting the struggles of life. 

Titus slides into the countrified blues on “The Zone,” a track that tells a story of a man looking to escape from the grid. “The Zone” merges honking saxophones, a funky blues walking bass line with country guitar riffs, while Titus’s raspy and ragged baritone endows the lyrics with the life weariness that gives them their heft.

Marshall Titus is a soul survivor who continued to work rather than lament his fate when his run on Star Search did not result in him being found by fame. He acted, performed commercials and continued to make music. The result of all that hard work is S.A.L.L., a polished and well-crafted classic soul record that will have many wondering where Titus has been all these years. The answer, right before your eyes. Solidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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