Anthony David: Georgia Pride

When singer Anthony David packed up and moved from the small town of Savannah, Georgia to Atlanta’s then budding metropolis, a collegiate career was on his mind. Despite being the cousin of Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman, music found him rather than the other way around.  After hitting Atlanta’s many club scenes, he was […]

When singer Anthony David packed up and moved from the small town of Savannah, Georgia to Atlanta’s then budding metropolis, a collegiate career was on his mind. Despite being the cousin of Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman, music found him rather than the other way around.  After hitting Atlanta’s many club scenes, he was given a taste of the music that the city had to offer and was quickly bitten by the bug. Along the way, he made friends with a share of musicians, among them a then unknown India.Arie. Their talents and influence rubbed off on one another resulting in working together on her 2002 debut Acoustic Soul in which David wrote the song “Part of Your Life.” Now 12 years later, music is his main focus. For David, being a singer/songwriter is at the forefront of his talents. Unafraid to be put in one genre, he doesn’t just check the R&B box to categorize his music. Instead, he lets the listener decide. After a well buzzed about response to his debut album, David hit the ground running with the 2006 sophomore release of The Red Clay Chronicles. The album straddles the line between classic R&B topics infused with enough soul to make it stand out. Like an athlete, David is more than prepared for the grueling hours put in by an independent artist and can be found perfecting his craft on tour from New York to Japan. Among the many stages that he will be seen on will be at Detroit’s 6th Annual Soul Urban Organic Festival this month. Anthony spoke with us from a hotel room during his busy performance schedule to re-introduce himself and to show that Atlanta puts out more than crunk music. Alternatives: How would you describe your music?Anthony David: R&B and soul. The whole thing is like going from Mary J. Blige to Lionel Richie.AAH: Even though those are two genres, they have similar components. What do you think are the components of soul and R&B music?Anthony David: In soul music, I think most of the time the guy [artist] is a writer. It usually comes from really personal experiences. You can tell that most of the lyrics came directly from that artist. In R&B, that may not necessarily be so. It could be somebody that just gets songs written for them and they’re more of a performer.AHHA: So if you’re in the middle, I’m guessing that you write your own songs? Anthony David: Pretty much, yeah. Except for one cover, “Something about You” on my second album.AHHA: The Atlanta Journal Constitution called your latest album the best thing to come out of Atlanta since Usher. What was your reaction to such an accolade?  Anthony David: Usher being as popular as he is, I took it automatically as a compliment.  I like some of his songs, so I was flattered. I knew at the end of the day that it was a compliment. We’re in different genres – well we’re not really in different genres, but I guess you could say we’re different in a lot of ways. I think that what [the writer] was making a point about was overall.AHHA: Do you think that being compared to him in any way will put you in a box?Anthony David: That’s a good box to be in! [laughs] Those things are just like initial points for people to pay attention. There are a lot of people that like Usher’s music that like my music. That’s actually opposite of the box. If they were to say the same thing like, “He Sounds just like Shania Twain,” then at least somebody that listens to Shania Twain might check it out and they might like it. I like Shania Twain, and I like Usher. AHHA: You’re eclectic in what you listen to, but who does Anthony David the artist look up to?Anthony David: I’ve been on tour with Eric Robeson, and we’re pretty much working with the same set of tools. Him as an independent artist, I definitely like the way he gets his grind on.  India [Arie], people like Prince…I’m a big fan of [Prince] and how he works. There’s so many honestly, but I guess it mostly starts from people I know.AHHA: What is it about them – their work ethic?Anthony David: Yeah, work ethic. Discipline…they pull it in. Train when they need to, go to sleep when they need to…all that kind of stuff. That’s why it’s even better when you know them because you can actually see their growth.AHHA: You and India.Arie have been friends for years. What is it about her spirit that you vibe with?Anthony David: Just her determination really. She’s clever so that was something that I gravitated to right off. Mostly it’s her dedication to her mission. She has a specific goal to her music, which is basically a ministry.AHHA: What’s the goal with your music?Anthony David: It’s pretty general. It’s pretty much the feeling that I got from Anita Baker or even Lionel Richie. It’s not necessarily on a “change the world” type vibe. It’s just that good feeling that you get when you have some music that you like. AHHA: When you were writing the songs on your album where did you get your ideas from? Is it all personal experience?Anthony David: A good portion of what I do is based on my own experience.AHHA: Where have you been on your tour?Anthony David: We just did Japan and Europe. I’m always on tour in this country, so I’m just getting back.AHHA: A lot of people tour in Japan, because they’re very accepting of American music, what the biggest difference between touring here and there?Anthony David: Their culture of being an audience is different. I wouldn’t say all of Japan, just like I wouldn’t say all of the States. What I noticed is that because of the way their culture is, when you perform for them, they don’t participate.AHHA:  I’ve heard about that, they’re quiet right?Anthony David: Yeah, and then they clap when you’re done. You can get them in involved though after a while you figure out how to really do it. You’re not going to be able to do it by talking to them, because they don’t understand English. You can’t tell the same jokes; you have to do it in the music. A big part of what I do, if I have to play an acoustic set, is a lot of talking too. It doesn’t work as well because you can’t use your same tools.AHHA: Is that uncomfortable?Anthony David: In the beginning, it just takes a minute. It’s like a deejay that’s playing for people, and he doesn’t know what they want to hear. You just have to rely on the music, which is fine. It is something where you wish you could kind of talk some more. You wish you could communicate fully but it actually brings more out of you.A lot of people say that in Europe or Japan they’re more accepting. I just think of it as a global community, where there are pockets all over the place. A lot of them are in the United States. I can’t go everywhere in the United States – l can’t go to Idaho. Well, I could, but they’re not big on soul music. That’s why a lot of people don’t tour in certain places. There are a lot of cities that are accepting throughout the world of certain types of music. So all you’re doing when you go to certain cities in Europe and Japan and certain countries is connecting with that. London would be the same as New York and so would Paris; but you can’t go to Southern Europe right off. There are a lot of people in Italy that aren’t into R&B. AHHA: What have you learned traveling across the globe, has it made you a better artist?Anthony David: Oh yeah. My main thing with music is sharing the better part of what I know about my culture with other cultures. I love going to places that I haven’t been.AHHA: What about the food, is it good?Anthony David: Depends on where you are. For me, if I get in certain areas, I start relying on chicken and rice. [laughs] Everybody has that!AHHA: Do you do a lot of performing in Atlanta?Anthony David: Yes. It’s my hometown, and we have a really good thing there. That’s where my whole thing was nurtured. I can’t tell the difference between a fan and a friend there!AHHA: When did you get involved in music?Anthony David: When I moved to Atlanta, about 12 years ago. I got involved in the scene and went to stuff everyday. I learned how to play guitar by listening to one band called The Chronicle. They’ve backed up everybody in the world. I used to go watch them every week. AHHA: You’re originally from Savannah why did you move to Atlanta? Did you go there wanting to be an artist?Anthony David: I think subconsciously. There was a lot of stuff that was really inspirational to me. I went there going to the Art Institute learning sound and stuff like that.AHHA: Who is Savannah though? Is it country? Can I say that? [laughs]Anthony David: It’s a small town. There’s a different to me between country and southern, but I guess it is a little country. It’s really just a southern town. But if you live in upstate New York that people may say is country, because you don’t live in the city. Certain people that live in the Bronx, they never leave they’re block, they’re really country. It’s a very small city.AHHA: Do you go back to Savannah?Anthony David: All the time.AHHA: With the tour, where are you now, and where are you going?Anthony David: I’m in Oakland right now. We just played last night. I guess we’ll consider that the end of this tour. Right now I’m taking about a month off. Just sitting at home fore a month. Whenever I’m home I’m just recording.AHHA: How was the reception in Oakland?Anthony David: It was nice. I’m always in the Bay [Area] anyway. I’m usually in San Jose, believe it or not. This is the second time I’ve played in Oakland. [Oakland] is another one of those little pockets.AHHA: How long have you been on tour now?Anthony David: Damn near two months. We went to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and then Japan.AHHA: You’ve been working hard to push the album The Red Clay Chronicles. It came out last in 2006 right?Anthony David: Yes. When you have an indie record, your album comes out everyday!