O'Bryan Burnette was one of the more popular pop/soul singers of the mid-80s and landed a handful of hits under the moniker "O'Bryan" during his short recording career.
A North Carolina native, O'Bryan moved to California as a young man and sang in Santa Ana's Second Baptist Church choir. It was there that he was introduced to Philadelphia International musician and producer Ron "Have Mercy" Kersey. While the O'Bryan's work with a group Kersey was putting together never materialized, the connection did result in an introduction to Soul Train host Don Cornelius, who in turn connected O'Bryan with Capitol Records, where he was signed.
O'Bryan first hit the charts with the popular, controversial 1982 song "Gigolo," which hit the R&B top 10, and the accompanying debut album, Doin' Alright, was also a hit.
In 1983 O'Bryan returned with an excellent midtempo remake of Stevie Wonder's "You and I," arguably topping the master's original version. It hit the Soul Top 20 and continued the young singer's ascent. The album of the same name hit the top 20 and also included the singer's "Soul Train's A Comin'," the popular music show's theme song for the next four years. Momentum carried his next album, Be My Lover, to the top five, and the lead single, "Lovelite," topped the charts. He received some notoriety for the accompanying videos for some of his songs which were made for the Playboy Channel and were too racy for nearly any other venue.
By the time of 1986's Surrender, O'Bryan's creative output had slowed, though he managed a minor hit with the dance cut "Tenderoni." Unfortunately, it became the coda for his 80s recording career.
In 2007, two decades after his last hit, O'Bryan independently released a new album called F1RST (click below to see review). While it was a hit-or-miss project, there were enough bright spots to make it a minor hit on the indie charts and to signal a welcome return of a talented singer.
By Chris Rizik