Q: When did you decide to become a singer?
A: I actually started singing at 12-years-old and have loved singing ever since.
Q: Was jazz always your primary music of choice?
A: R&B was my first love. Then I was encouraged by my vocal coaches in my 20s to listen to Nat King Cole
, Johnny Mathis
, Frank Sinatra
, Jack Jones
, and Andy Williams
. These were some of the great vocal crooners who had great style and vocal excellence. I started to emulate them all.
Q: Growing up, what vocalists influenced you the most?
A: All the kids in South L.A. wanted to be like their idols in the '60s, and I was no different. I wanted to be David Ruffin
of The Temptations
, or Smokey Robinson
. I really took singing for granted until I was in my 20s and got serious about being a trained vocalist.
Q: What made you decide to choose the covers on your latest record, Classic Songs for the Love of My Life
A: I chose these songs because they represented the things I felt in my heart. These songs would be the ones I know would hold up the best if I never got another chance to record. They would give the world a taste of my style and leave a good legacy of who I was. Maybe that sounds morbid, but you just never know if you will be around tomorrow.
Q: Where were you born, and where did you grow up? Were your parents supportive of your musical career?
A: I was born and raised, like I said before, in South Central Los Angeles, right near Florence Avenue near Hooper for my first 19 years. My folks had emotional and substance abuse issues so they were not really as supportive, but my Aunt Julia encouraged me.
Q: Did you receive any formal training to become a singer? How did you learn?
A: I received vocal coaching at Los Angeles City College back in the '70s with the late Robert Althueiser and privately with the late Harry Martin.
Q: In addition to jazz standards, you have makeovers of pop tunes from The Beach Boys
and Stephen Bishop
. Have you always been this versatile as a singer?
A: All my coaches demanded that I not get stuck in one genre of music, but that I do it all. So I’ve embraced R&B, jazz, pop, Gospel, and even dabbled in light opera. I just grew to love singing jazz and pop the most.
Q: You experienced a number of family tragedies. Where did you find the strength to continue?
A: Through all of life’s ups and downs, I knew God loved me and had a plan for my life. I had a wonderful Uncle Richard and Aunt Mellie Washington who always made sure I go to church so It was providential that any success I would ever have musically would be for God’s glory, be it church music or popular music. God has never forsaken me.