The Saga Of A Modern Day Soul Man
It ain’t been easy for Calvin Richardson, the North Carolinian who stepped boldly onto the music scene in 1999 with “Country Boy,” his critically-acclaimed debut album for Universal that including a faithful cover of the Bobby Womack classic “I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much.” His second album for the label wasn’t issued although a duet with Angie Stone (“More Than A Woman”) brought enough attention that Calvin got a deal with Disney-owned Hollywood Records. There he made another good album (2003’s “2:35PM,” named after the time of birth of one of his children), got some nice sales and was all ready for a follow up (working with Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds) when the politics of the music biz resulted in the end of his deal. In no hurry to sign with another major label, Calvin took his time to find a new home for his music and in 2008, Shanachie Records (via Calvin’s own NuMo label) released Calvin’s latest project, “When Love Comes”…
DN: After you left Hollywood Records, what happened?
CR: I decided to take off for a while and spend time with my kids, live my life without music. A year or so later, I was checking my MySpace page and I saw people were requesting me to come back and they wanted me to do what I wanted to do with music. At the time, I was frustrated with the industry…although one of the songs on the MySpace page, “There Goes My Baby” got very popular in the UK. I developed a real following there…must have been there seven times in the last few years…
DN: When did you start working on “When Love Comes”?
CR: In 2007. I didn’t have a concept: I just wanted to do ‘me,’ give the world ‘me.’ I think that listeners got some of ‘me’ on each of the previous albums but this time, I wanted everybody to get to know who I was as a producer and songwriter. I went in the studio by myself and tried to get some of that Betty Wright, Curtis, Aretha kinda vibe from those records they did. I tried to go back there, to get certain grooves going and establish a direction for the sound.
DN: How did you hook up with Shanachie Records?
CR: Honestly, I wasn’t looking for a record label. I was not chasing a record company because I didn’t want to be let down again. I felt that if my [musical] vision was not going to be embraced, I’d leave it alone. I had put some new songs on MySpace and some guy hit me up there and told me about this guy Randall Grass at Shanachie, that the company was looking for me. He called me up, I got a feel for him and he told me he felt really good about what I had done, that he had been following my career. I told him I still had a base out there, waiting for me, waiting for some new music. I couldn’t say I had a million selling record but I did have a whole lot of people who love what I do and appreciate what I do.
DN: What was the biggest difference between working with Shanachie and the labels you had been with before?
CR: It was the first time I had a sort of freedom. This is the first record that is completely ‘me’. I recorded it in Charlotte, North Carolina which is home for me. There was a good vibe. I my atmosphere and space: I wasn’t on the clock, I was free to do what I wanted to do. I felt like I was turning the page, turning a corner. I wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing, I was doing something that’s different.
DN: What has been the reaction to the album?
CR: There are those out there who ‘get it’ and appreciate it. With the internet, you can go through a lot of doors now that you couldn’t before. It’s a lot of work but now I see things happening with all that I’m doing and all that Shanachie has been doing. I’m seeing the results and that’s great. I did the album on my own label, NuMo Records and the name comes from the idea of ‘a new Motown.’ I’ve got the same work ethic as those Motown folks and I’m just trying to keep that soulful sound alive!
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.