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ANTHONY HAMILTON 2009 SOULMUSIC.COM INTERVIEW
HAMILTON HEIGHTS
In a brutal economy, North Carolina native Anthony Hamilton is still selling out shows as he takes his classic soul gumbo back on the road in support of his current album, “The Point Of It All”.

If ever there was an artist whose natural home should be found among the pages of soulmusic.com, Anthony Hamilton is that artist. In a fast food musical era, Anthony Hamilton is as old school as catfish and collard greens. A man who not only wears his musical influences on his sleeve but rather proudly emblazoned across his chest. With such lofty musical morals as his guiding force, needless to say success wasn’t an easy fit for Hamilton in such an ephemeral industry. Having endured the vagaries of the music biz for many years and many failed record deals, Hamilton was about to pack up his suitcase and head back to North Carolina for good when Jermaine Dupri scored him his deal with So So Def in 2003, then an Arista imprint, resulting in the breakthrough, moody soulful, “Comin’ From Where I’m From” which was followed up two years later by “Ain’t No Nobody Worryin’”. His latest collection, “The Point Of It All” is another strong collection of gritty soulful retro slanted songs, underpinned by contemporary drums and production. Personal highlights include the Hi Records revue feel of the pleading “Please Stay”, the dark, plaintive “Soul’s On Fire” and lament filled “She’s Gone”.

Having spent the last few months on the road in support of the album, Hamilton will hit the road again in June, headlining the “Playin’ It Cool” tour with Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michele.

Jeff Lorez: The last time I saw you on stage was when you were standing next to Bill Withers as part of a tribute to him in Philly. What struck me then is what a natural fit his songs were for you as an artist.

Anthony Hamilton: I tend to love me some Bill Withers. It was kind of like being a child and working with that one celebrity that you’ve always looked up to. He was really down to earth and we just had a good time.

JL: How, if at all, did the current album differ from recording the previous two?

AH: I just took my time and focused on uptempos and allow people to see another side of Anthony. A fun side. I love to boogie, have fun. I’m not just a heartbroken cat. A little romance, a little jive-talk.

JL: One of the songs on the album is called “Hard To Breathe”. If you were single and trapped in an elevator with a female, which female would make it hard for you to breathe?

AH: Haha! Pam Grier from the 1970’s.

JL: Another song is called “The News”. What’s the best and worst news you’ve ever had?

AH: The best news is being healthy. Getting my blood work done and the doctor saying I’m a ok. The worst news was finding out my best friend was dying on sickle cell anemia.

JL: Do you have health issues in your family?

AH: There can be – high blood pressure and hypertension. A few of the women have had kidney problems. I make sure I drink plenty of water, occasional I’ve have a flush of beer & wine but for the most part I eat a lot better than all of them. I’ve always loved vegetables and I just stopped eating salty food. It gave me heartburn. It came about naturally.

JL: What’s an average day for you when you’re not on the road?

AH: I get up, let the dogs out, take my son to school, ride around, listen to some music while the morning is still young and the people are still sleeping. Then I’ll go home, have breakfast, have a work out or get a message, call my mom and dad and relax. Then I have a lot of phone calls and conference calls. I’m in Charlotte North Carolina and it’s beautiful.

JL: Is your house the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

AH: Yeah, that’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought.

JL: How has the economy affected you?

AH: People don’t have a lot of money to waste on going out and entertaining. If they’re gonna listen to your music you have to give them something of value so they don’t go and purchase he bootleg or watch the show on You Tube. I can honestly say that I’m still selling out venues and that really means something – that what I’m giving them is more powerful than the pain of the economy. I love performing, singing, interacting with the crowd. It’s therapy.

JL: What’s your greatest fear?

AH: Not going to heaven. That would be my biggest one.

JL: There’s not much danger of that is there?

AH: Nah. But you don’t know all the rules. The little things could add up. I hope his calculator breaks!

JL: I don’t think you’ll get kicked out on a technicality.

AH: It’s not American Idol, huh? But I want to go in white fluffy room, too!

JL: Have you always been religious?

AH: It’s who I was. That’s who they taught me I was.

JL: Have you ever encountered any conflicts between your religious beliefs and being in the music business?

AH: There can be if you do the music that solicits sex and adultery and all that stuff. It contradicts the belief. You’re supposed to build up people and all that good stuff. I tell people all the time – yeah I’m a Christian, too but I’m not about to not do the music that I think God gave straight to me.

JL: Has there been anything specific that you’ve flat out refused to do because of your religious convictions?

AH: To sing curse words in a hook. Real, raw curse words. I just felt it was unnecessary. It was back in the ‘90’s. It was a track the Trackmasters, Tone & Poke were working on and they laughed because they knew I wasn’t going to do it.

JL: If you were in a hot air balloon with George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and you were losing altitude and you needed to kick two of them out, who would you throw out?

AH: I think the three of them would have to go and I’d just stay in there myself!

JL: What’s your most treasured possession?

AH: Family. My kids, friends, people I love.

JL: How is your relationship with your kids?

AH: They love me. We get along really well. They respect the hard work. They see that dad is a man that not only do I pay the bills but I spend time with them and nurture their minds and their hearts. I have fun and laugh with them.

JL: What’s the hardest part of being a parent?

AH: Allowing them to be who they are. You always want to make those little changes when you see potential in them but you have to allow them to be who they are 100% and just tweak it a little bit.

JL: What potential have you seen in them and how have you encouraged it?

AH: With Anthony he’s very talented and creative but just a little lazy and I wanted to bring out that fire in him.

JL: How did you do that?

AH: I allowed him to see that not having that fire makes you miserable. Not addressing those things that you’re good at makes you stagnant in life.

JL: How old is he?

AH: He’s 20 now. He’s doing some animation and graphics and he’s designing some T-Shirts for me.

JL: What personality traits did you inherit from your parents?

AH: I got the musicianship from my father. My mom is real silly. She’s a jokester.

JL: To whom would you most like to say sorry and why?

AH: To my wife because it took me so long to not be knucklehead. You’re kind of stuck when you’re used to being a certain way. I was stuck in my ways for 30 something years. She wanted to see the better half of me at a more rapid pace.

JL: If I was talking to your wife what would she complain to me about you?

AH: Not letting things that bother me build up for too long. I don’t want to upset nobody.

JL: Can you separate your career and home life?

AH: I made sure that I can let that go. You have to learn…there’s not much that she has to complain about.

JL I always said that about my wife but then when I asked her she had a laundry list of things she wanted me to improve on!

AH: Haha. Well I do a lot of cooking. I love cooking. Honey grilled salmon, grouper, any fish. Curried lamb, potato leak chicken. All the vegetables, okra, kale.

JL: All the healthy stuff

AH: I probably only ever eat fried chicken once a year in the house. We might eat it outside at the soul food restaurant.

JL: If you had 10 minutes with President Obama what would you talk to him about?

AH: I would tell him to take his time and enjoy his family. That would allow him to make better decisions because it brings a certain peace to you. I’d ask him if I could I could have a job at the White House.

JL: Really, what would you want to do?

AH: I’d be in charge of the Friday night get down! The jukebox.

JL: If you had a super-power what would it be?

AH: To heal people in a physical way. To take away pain

JL: Have you ever had any serious illnesses or injuries?

AH: I broke my leg playing football when I was at high school. I was making a tackle. I’ve never had anything life threatening though.

JL: “Please Stay” is my favorite song on the album.

AH: That’s mine, too!

JL: Really, why?

AH: There’s a lot of raw emotion on there. The begging. You know how relationships are. Your wife is so loving and caring. You tend to take things for granted. It can mess up things. It’s my way of saying I know what I have, I apologize and before I let you go, I’ll beg you.

JL: How is your wife (Tarsha McMillan)’s career going?

AH: It’s going really well. She may be signing a distribution deal with a high powered company soon. It’s really looking good.

JL: How are you involved in her career?

AH: I help write and arrange stuff. She helps by picking and choosing the songs she likes the best

JL: What are the songs that you insisted to the label that They absolutely must be on the album?

AH: “Soul’s On Fire”, “The Point Of It All”, “Please Stay”

JL: What’s the inspiration behind “Soul’s On Fire”?

AH: Soul’s of Fire – people need that. Because there’s always a scream or a yell in people. They want to express. They want the world to hear them so they can heal them. People get pushed to suicide when they are in pain and no one hears them

About the Writer
Jeff Lorez has enjoyed a long and varied career in the music business. As a journalist he has written for a slew of publications and web sites including, Blues & Soul, Billboard, Yahoo.com and the Daily Telegraph and as a music publisher he has been involved in recent chart topping hits by Alexis Jordan and Cher Lloyd.
  
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