GIVING THE BEST OF ME
More than 20 years ago, music was merely just entertainment for me. Having grown up in the era of the 90’s sound, I found comfort, joy, and the need to move whenever any of my favorite artists or songs came on the radio. I always had my cassette player ready to record the latest releases. I made mix tapes with my cousin. I acted as a DJ sometimes. My family and I formed a small dance group called Fifth World. From there my passion for creative expression began. Others shied away. I pushed through and began to develop myself in ways I hadn’t imagined. I won talent shows. I attracted an audience, and then my thirst really hit.
20 years ago after making a simple demo in a Texas studio, I collaborated with a good friend of mine, Cornelius Caldwell and created what became my very first single in 2002 – “Flame.” We had both sang in the church choir and he had great skill at playing piano so one day we went for it and put down the melody and chords for “Flame.” I then teamed up with St. Louis producer, da’ Myksta where we completed the song by adding in guest guitarist, Michael “Mann” Rainer and rapper, Lord O.Z. who delivered one of the smoothest rap vocals known.
Over the course of the next few years I studied everything I could about music business. I studied my favorite artists, Michael and Janet Jackson, Prince, and countless others. I was awe struck by the magic and the power and the freedom of expression. I was shy growing up so expressing myself lyrically was my power and I still use it today. I wanted to own my own so I continued studying. Eventually I started a publishing company and independent record label. Although names and logos changed along the way, I still own both.
Today, my professional music career is 20 years old. So because of that, I celebrate. I celebrate the fact that I had a vision, nurtured it, and produced something I’m very proud of – a 4-album catalogue of music that has enriched my soul and provided entertainment and comfort to others the way it did for me back then. I set goals and achieved most of them. I’m still working to master the rest. I’m grateful for the success and the support I’ve gained over two decades. Those who believed in me strengthened me. Those who doubted me and still do today strengthen me. I know my true power source is from above and deep within my heart. I’m an artist and always will be. So, again I celebrate.
IN THIS MOMENT, my first album was released eight years after I started. I fused music and spoken word together to create a soundtrack that expressed my excitement of having an actual album – something I dreamt of. With the help of some cool producers and my now long-time recording engineer, Preston Jones, I was able to accomplish that. It featured the song, “Crash & Burn” I did with my younger late brother, Brian “B-Dub” Westfall and the soul track, “Our Love” I did with Surreal. From that album spawned some award nominations and ultimately, the Songwriter of the Year title from the Traffic Music Awards.
Some years passed and I lived a little. I published some books of poetry and continued writing song lyrics. That led to my sophomore album, NO APOLOGIES. I wasn’t worried about the so-called jinx that sometimes happens, and unapologetically I created what was in my heart. With my cousin, D1NE, we released “All Night (With You),” the first single from the album. We had started in music together, so it was only fitting to do it on a bigger scale. That song makes me feel good even today. Also included on that album was one of my favorite songs, “Love Me All Day,” which helped balance out some of the heavier subject matters I expressed at the time.
My creativity never failed me as I found myself a few years later writing yet another song. I had missed being in the studio creating so I wrote what I was feeling at the time. In the early fall of 2018 I was in the studio with Preston writing and recording “Feeling You Feeling Me” which was produced by Beat Masta Wes whose work appears on all my albums. This song grabs me even today. It gives me life as it takes me back to the moments that birthed its creation. From there I slowly wrote more songs all the while going through a secret bout of depression that even I didn’t know about until I did. I kept writing and getting more personal with my feelings. Then tragedy struck as I was healing from my own demons. My loving younger brother, B-Dub passed away after sharing with me just months earlier that he desired to record more music with me. Needless to say, I was devastated and left empty. That void still has not been filled and will always be reserved for him. “Sunset In July” was my final plea in asking for his forgiveness. I’ve heard that from death, new life forms. My third album, LOVE… LIFE was my expression of joy. It was me expressing how I love life and how I live to love. It’s all about love. I know that now more than ever.
That love brings me to today and the reason why I’m addressing you. “We’re celebrating some good times. This is where you should be.” These are words taken from my new single, “Vibez.” I’m celebrating all those who have helped me get here. Every producer, engineer, video director, photographer, make-up artist, stylist, model, songwriter, rapper, singer, assistant, executive, and you. Even greater than, I thank God and I thank myself for pursuing my passion and my dreams and doing it all from a place of love and sincerity.
My new album, BEST OF ME features some of my best work determined by you, the listener. My number one song, “#luv” created with my good friend, D.R.E. is thanks to all of you. It is my pleasure that I now present to you the BEST OF ME as both upcoming album, video album, and single. I hope you enjoy and continue to celebrate with me on this 20 Year Anniversary.
December 9th will now be historic for me as I release this new work just one day shy of my birthday. I thank God for it all. And once again I truly thank you.