To check out events where Gordon Chambers will be performing, please go to his website http://www.gordonchambers.com/, scroll down the Upcoming Events and signup to his Announcement List to receive tour info and other news in the future. Fans can also find songs and further information on his MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/gordonchambers , including ticket info for forthcoming shows in Chicago and New York City.
Please come out to Gordon's performances in Chicago and NYC to hear this talented musician and his wonderful songwriting skills. Until then, settle in and get to know Gordon Chambers.
TP: You are one of the most successful songwriters of the last 15 years. How did your songwriting career get started? What was your first big break?
GC: I began writing with producer Dave Hall for Brownstone and Phyllis Hyman, who introduced me to Barry Eastmond, who month's later gave me a skeletal track of "I Apologize." I finished the lyrics, Anita Baker cut the leads and the song won a Grammy then the album went platinum in a week's time. I was 23 and still employed as Essence's entertainment editor. An exciting time of my life!
TP: If you did not become a successful songwriter/producer/artist, what profession do you think you would have wanted to succeed in?
GC: Well, I really loved journalism. I worked at ESSENCE from 1990 to 1997 as an editor. I also freelance wrote articles for the New York Times, Emerge, Rolling Stone, The Source, Vibe and up-and-coming music publications. I'm also dramatic, so I think I could have (and maybe one day will still) become a great actor. I'm also fascinated with psychology, and would love to work in that field.
TP: Your 2005 release, Introducing Gordon Chambers, and its 2007 follow-up, Love Stories, has been a huge success for an artists' first two releases. When did you know you wanted to become an artist in the forefront compared to being the hit songwriter behind the scenes?
GC: I always knew I loved to perform and did it when asked. Around 2002, I found myself getting bored with the mainstream R&B music industry and all its focus on youth, trends and hip-hop. I felt that I had a collection of great songs ready to present that could touch the hearts of adult soul lovers, so I began making the record. I also felt it was time to get back to being in front of audiences on a regular basis. That was my entire childhood: performing. I also did it in college all the time. I became "behind the scenes" went I began writing and producing, but it was time for me to get from behind the booth and sing. Whitney Houston gave me great encouragement in one recording session when I was showing her a bridge to a Christmas song we were cutting.
TP: With all the songs you've placed over the years, does songwriting always feel like a labor of love to you?
GC: I love to write songs, it's always a joy. But sometimes, like all writers, I get writer's block. But when it flows, it's very satisfying putting words and melodies together.
GC: Writing is organic. Production is more like marketing. They require different heads and producing takes longer. I love vocal producing, however. It's a joy getting a great performance out of a singer on tape.
TP: How difficult is it to tailor a song for a specific artist? What steps do you take in advance when writing for a specific artist?
GC: It's hard getting a song to match an artist's style and sensibility at that time, because people's interests in what they want to sing change from project to project. It's easier if you get a personal relationship with the artist.
TP: You have received several awards for your songwriting and performance, which awards hold the most importance to you as a musician?
GC: All of them! I never take any award or moment of validation as a musician for granted. There are so many folks trying to get their music heard, and God has given me so many opportunities. I have no choice but to continue to be grateful and humble.
TP: Are you currently working on any special projects that you can talk about?
GC: My third album, tentatively called "In My Room." I also produced five songs on Aretha's forthcoming independent studio album for her own label.
TP: What studio did you record Love Stories in?
GC: Lots of basement and home studios for vocals; but I mixed at the late, great Sony Studios in New York, right before they closed! My first album was recorded at the long-gone and great room, RPM, where Lauryn cut "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." So many studios with amazing history are closing due to changing technology and, of course, the economy.
TP: From a technical standpoint, do you engineer your own projects or co-produce/engineer?
GC: I work with Prince Charles Alexander, a Grammy-winning engineer who's worked with Puffy, Mary J., Biggie, Donny McClurkin, Luther Vandross and tons of artists. I trust him implicitly and we've become close friends.
TP: How many instruments do you play? What instrument do you prefer to write your songs on?
GC: I play the piano, and I'm rather rusty on trumpet. I love writing to great tracks from producers and at the keyboard for serious ballads. I also love writing with guitar players!
TP: Do you prefer using a specific music software in the recording process? What vocal microphone makes your voice sound like butter?
GC: I love Neiman microphones. They warm my voice up on the low frequencies. I love ProTools for vocals. But, in general, I'm not the major studio â€˜techie' type. I leave that to my collaborators and try to keep my mind on vocals and lyrics.
TP: What indie soul artists have made an impression on you?
GC: Ledisi, Eric Roberson and Kem have all been role models. And Led and Eric and I are personal friends. I don't know Kem as well, personally.
TP: Who are your influences in life as well as in music?
GC: Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Susan Taylor (former boss at ESSENCE), Marvin Gaye, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Abbey Lincoln, Pat Metheny, Prince, Patti Labelle and Labelle, Aretha Frankin, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, and most of all, Byron and Valerie Chambers, my parents and all of my grandparents (RIP).
TP: Name some artists that you'd like to work with in the future.
GC: Rihanna, Keyshia Cole, Seal, Mary J (again), Beyonce (again), Usher (again), Neyo and Celine Dion.
TP: Name the last three artists whose music you purchased or downloaded.
GC: Jazmine Sullivan, Rafael Saddiq and Abbey Lincoln (a live dvd).
By Tom Paul