[ARCHIVE][FEATURE] ANDRE PITRE
We’re back with another exclusive, this time with famed Actor, Producer, and singer Mr. Andre Pitre. We take pride in the fact that we like to spotlight individuals who are making moves and doing positive things not only for themselves, but for others in their respective communities, and across the world. No one fits that bill more than Mr. Pitre. Obviously, he’s been doing his thing in the entertainment world. He’s starred in several films, including BET film “Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find”, Tyler Perry’s “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong”, and “Love in the Nick of Time”. He’s also blowing the music world apart with his music, more recently his single “Come On Baby”, which has been doing phenomenally on iTunes. Aside from that, he’s doing outstanding work with his production company, Triwen Productions, which has allowed him to do all types of mentoring within his community in Houston. With so much going on, it’s amazing he can keep everything in line, but that’s what makes him the genius he is in entertainment. In our feature, we talk about all of this and more!
Urban Grandstand Digital: Thanks so much for your time today. It's great to be able to talk about the many things you have going on. When I look at the things you've done thus far, it's like these are things that some of the biggest personalities want to do. Let's see, there's Tyler Perry’s “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong”, "Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find", and "Love in the Nick of Time". Tell me about how you stepped into acting.
Andre Pitre: I’ve been singing and acting all my life. Singing is my passion. I would always incorporate being dramatic when I sing, because if you’re not believing what you’re saying, then it’s not going to come out the way that it should. I don’t know anyone who sings that doesn’t do that. Naturally, the theatrics are going to come out. You have Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, it was in them. You see the natural acting ability. I’ve always wanted to do both because they go hand in hand. But singing, I’ve been doing that since I was 4 years old. I would hear a song one time, and pretty much have the melody. My dad would always play music. I came out with it in me. I have family members who sing on both sides of the family. No one is doing it professionally, but they can really sing. It’s just something that God blessed me with.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s a beautiful thing that you’re not complacent. Singing, acting, and having your production company are really awesome accomplishments. And I actually want to tap into your production company as well. It’s pretty cool that you’re working with Charnele Brown (of A Different World). How did you two come together?
Andre Pitre: We met in 1999. I was out here in Houston, and she had just brought her acting academy to the area. I went into the audition, and I see Kim from A Different world, and thought to myself that this was the real deal. So her business partner at the time held the audition, and I got the real world. One thing about me, if I see things I can jump out with [and help with], I gravitate to it, regardless of my status. If I got the lead role or whatever, I still want to make sure everything is fine. I want to know what’s going on behind the scenes. We were out on the road, and certain things were not going the way they should. It worked out that we would become business partners. We clicked very well. She’s like a sister I never had. We’re an extension of each other, and think so much alike. Where I’m weak, she’s strong. She’s helped me a lot to understand not to believe the hype, and to be prepared for things.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It goes to show, too, that we as a people can really work together.
Andre Pitre: We can…
Urban Grandstand Digital: People feel like we can’t, but we definitely can!
Andre Pitre: It’s up to us. It’s amazing how much power we have. It’s amazing what we can do. If you look at anything in entertainment, you see someone in color doing it. Producing, football, basketball, owning your own franchise, we can do whatever we put our minds to. We come into this world naturally hustling. We have to do ten times more than the average person born into wealth. The one thing as blacks we must do is save money, so our kids' kids' kids come into something. They don’t have to fight as much because we’ve left something aside for them to build and continue instead of starting from scratch. That’s another reason we started this production company. We wanted to show that you don’t have to go to LA and New York. Houston is just as big, and there’s an opportunity. It’s people like us coming together and showing you can do the same thing.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I can appreciate you saying that people don’t have to leave the city to achieve these things. That was our principle with our company. Cleveland is big enough that you don’t have to leave here.
Andre Pitre: You can make your city the next Hollywood. You just have to be willing to stay there and make it happen. The reason these other cities like LA are the way they are is because you have people born and bred, and they made it possible. They pushed it and made it drive. It’s like we get there to the edge and then say let me go over here to where everybody else is. I believe that once it comes through, I’m opening the doors for people, like what Tyler Perry is doing. He opened the doors for others like myself, and others who have dreams of doing it themselves. It’s possible. With God, anything is possible. That’s something we’ve been doing. The music is about to take off. I’m working on a major project right now, and I’m excited about that. I’m building an incredible team. This is something that’s like a life-long dream coming to fruition. I’ve been through ups and downs in this music game, but it has prepared me for what’s coming. I’ve always said “much is given, much is required”. I asked for big things at a young age, but now I understand that you ask for it but you ain’t just going to get it. You have to go through some things to truly appreciate owning your own company.
Urban Grandstand: I’ve seen people in this industry go through so much before they finally made it.
Andre Pitre: Right…
Urban Grandstand Digital: Now we're especially talking today because of your music. “Come On Baby” has been doing pretty well so far. I know it hit iTunes earlier this year. Tell everyone about this single, the process of putting it together, and the direction you’re heading now?
Andre Pitre: Well, two summers ago I was in Miami. A friend of mine and I were working on this project. My projects are never-ending. Once I do the major release, people see each songs come together to make a masterpiece. A friend of mine was helping me, and some people he knew introduced me to a guy who produced “Come On Baby”. His name is Terrence Rogue. When you hear this guy, he’s incredible. He’s a 26-year old protégé. He sings and plays every instrument. He produced and co-wrote it. It was just one of those moments where you’re doing something and it clicks.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Had you two ever worked together at all?
Andre Pitre: No. The day I met him, we recorded two of the best songs I’ve ever done. That’s “I Need You” and “Come On Baby”. We did those from scratch. Like you and I are talking, we did it. As I’m talking, he’s playing.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s evident; though, that it was a good connection seeing as how you came together and immediately knocked those tracks out.
Andre Pitre: Just like that. When I say it’s one of those things, it’s almost like Janet Jackson with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, or Snoop & Dr. Dre. Whenever they don’t work together, you know the difference. It’s that magic. They were made for each other. That’s what I feel like I have with him [Terrence]. We clicked.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Now is he working on the remainder of your project?
Andre Pitre: Yes, and as a matter of fact, in a couple weeks I’ll do some more with him. I have another guy I’m working with in Los Angeles, but with him it’s magic. It’s like that missing piece.
Urban Grandstand Digital: You’ll work with a multitude of different people, but you have to have that one person who really knows you and gives you the best stuff. It’s the same too with people like Missy Elliott. Regardless of whom she is working with, everyone knows Timbaland gives her the absolute best.
Andre Pitre: Right…
Urban Grandstand Digital: So when are you expecting the project to be out there?
Andre Pitre: Our goal is the first of the year. I’m putting together a Christmas project we’ll drop in the holiday season. It’s just a little EP with a few Christmas songs, one original and one cover. The album and single, we’re pushing for “Come On Baby” will be the first single. The feedback has been great. I’m working to secure a major situation so the masses can hear it. I grew up listening to that feel good, real old school flavor. When you listen to music it tells a story. That’s what I want my music to do is take you to a place, and make you feel good, cry, make you happy, you know. That’s what I want to project. That’s what I want my album to do. When you put it in and push play, it goes all the way through non-stop. I want my music to be like a movie. You don’t skip ahead.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Sort of like D’Angelo’s first album. Play it straight through.
Andre Pitre: That album was incredible.
Urban Grandstand Digital: That actually answers my next question too, which basically was what you felt you offered that was missing in music these days…..
Andre Pitre: We’ve gotten away from talking about love. I have respect for all genres of music, but when you listen to the radio, there’s not enough love anymore, and that’s why we’re having a lot of issues with relationships because music is what we go to for our answers. If you want to get in the mood, and get closer to God, you listen o that certain Gospel song, but when you want to hear that love song, it’s not too many of us newcomers, or even the R&B generation now, you have them but they don’t get the airplay they need. Somebody I really admire, and I think he’s incredible, is Tank.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Man. It’s crazy you mention that. I was saying the same thing, and I’ve been following him since the Aaliyah days. He’s done so much in his career. You would think at this point people would recognize. Then I covered the BET awards this summer, and he was there wit TGT. The show was absolutely awesome. He puts so much work into it that I don’t see why some people just aren’t getting it.
Andre Pitre: Man, he has one of those albums with “Sex Love & Pain”. It’s one of those albums where you press play and the album is like wow. I met him a few times, and we’re always playing basketball and softball with whom I call the fraternity members of the industry. He’s just an all around good guy. That’s the kind of music that’s missing. The Anthony Hamiltons and Tyreses. This is the essence of R&B. This generation and what they think is R&B is different. To me, R&B is when you feel good listening, It’s not just the production, but it’s the story behind it. What are you telling this woman? It’s straight to let me hit that. It’s none of this let me take you out. When you listen to them old school songs, Lenny Williams is a good friend of mine and like a mentor. We did a production together. It’s just amazing that the song he did, people still sing it like it just came out. “Because I Love You”. That’s a legendary song. I just admire him. He still has that energy. This man is almost 70 years old and he has a tone that stands the test of time. Watching Frankie Beverly & Maze. I opened for him a few times, and it’s just amazing to see those guys. They haven’t put out a song since I’ve been living, and they still sell out. I really had a chance to appreciate them more this summer. I did a show with them new years eve, but this summer I did a show with my band. Just to watch these guys, and they gave us some great feedback. To have them give us that kind of feedback meant a lot. Every night, they give that same energy. That’s what I look forward to. 50 years from now, I want people still singing Come On Baby.
Urban Grandstand: What would you say the biggest thing was you’ve learned from the likes of Frankie Beverly& Maze, and Lenny Williams?
Andre Pitre: Humility. If I can sum it up in one word, Humility. Professionalism. These guys are legends for a reason, and they didn’t become legends overnight. They stood the test of time. Not too many artists can stand the test of time. They come out a month or two and you never hear from them again. They depend on the machine to keep it going. If you have it, it’s no denying it. It can’t be taken away. R. Kelly is another one. This dude is a genius. You can’t deny it. Beyoncé. People that are still here, it’s a reason why every time they drop an album, it’s no miss. They keep raising the bar.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Before we end, I also want you to touch on some of the community work you've done in terms of camps, programs for kids, and so on
Andre Pitre: I started doing that on my journey to pursue my dreams. I always enjoyed working with kids. I’ve coached basketball, baseball, football, and I’ve mentored. I work with the kids, and Charnele works with adults. My dad used to coach baseball, so I got it from him. At four, I sang and played baseball (laughing). I watched my dad go to different places. These kids he helped couldn’t do nothing. They would probably be locked up. But I saw how he made an impact. It rolled over to me. One thing about kids is they are honest. They’ll let you know how it is. As adults, what happened to just being straight up. If you don’t like somebody or something, just say it. For some reason, we feel like we’ve got to like and sugarcoat. What happened to the innocence? It’s days when I’m frustrated by my own career, not booking a certain commercial or a movie, trying to get something right music wise, and these kids are happy just to have someone spend time with them.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It says a lot that you take the time to do this. We’ve all been there, but you get some people who don’t go back and help.
Andre Pitre: I never wanted to wait until a certain stage of my career and say it was time to give back. You should do it because you want to do it. Not because of PR. It’s a lot of stuff I do that I won’t put on social media. You’ll see what I do by how productive these kids become. They may not even be into art, but it helps them by me talking to them and showing them with discipline. I tell them what goes on, and keep it straight up. I tell them they’ll go through ups and downs. They have to put in the work.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What you see on TV is not always reality.
Andre Pitre: Right, but the joy I get working with these kids, i look forward to it. It gives me just as much joy as singing and acting. It’s so innocent. They don’t realize they’re learning until later on. Those interested in acting, it helps them with memorization too.
Urban Grandstand Digital: And even if they are not interested in entertainment, it helps them figure out their path.
Andre Pitre: Right, and it helps them get out of their shell. A lot of them have been bullied, and are dealing with family issues. They’re the adults and they have to feed their brothers and sisters because mom and dad may not be home. It’s just stuff like that. I can’t save everybody but if I can save one, I’ve done my job. These young men need it more than anything. They are killing us and locking us up like animals. These boys have so much anger because their daddies aren’t around. The daddies don’t take the time. I don’t shy away from that. I’d rather have a challenge than go to a kid that has everything. These kids that don’t have it, you shouldn’t run away from it. They are crying out for help and want attention.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Right, and the more people that ignore them, the more violent they become.
Andre Pitre: Right. They build and build and build until they explode. They do it in front of the wrong people and the cops get involved. They’re just expressing how they feel. A lot of things going on, people aren’t thinking rationally. They have built up rage and then take the law into their own hands. Everybody has a story and it’s a reason why some people are the way they are. It starts from home.
Are there any other projects you’re working on, or anything you want to get out there?
Andre Pitre: The main focus is the album. I did an independent film with Slim Thug called “Red All Over”. It’s a local producer here in Houston that shot it. As well as the projects that Charnele and I have coming. I’d rather show you. I don’t like to put the cart before the horse. Nowadays, with social media, everybody shows you everything. It’s like baking a cake. By the time it’s ready, you have them everything and it’s nothing to see. You have to be discreet. I like the element of surprise. I’m very excited about my music project. I want people to see the music side totally. When I shoot my videos, you’ll see the acting side. My songs tell a story. It’s a message. I want my music to be heard by everybody. It’s more than just sound and words. When I hear a song, it takes me back to what I was doing at that time. That’s what I want my music to do. I’ve had guys say they play my song because they couldn’t figure out the words to say and that the song spoke for them.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s really a blessing when your music can hit home for listeners. Are there any kind of final comments at all? Anything I missed?
Andre Pitre: Just want to thank everyone for the support. Thank you for even having me. I’m looking forward to doing great things. I’m really excited about what God is doing in my life and career. It’s so many people out there like me, putting in the work. They just want to give up. You get out of life what you put in. Put in the work and you’ve been obedient, you season will come. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. Just because you started a family and had ups an downs, you’re still God’s child. That’s the motto of our production company. Triwen Productions. It means try until you win. You only live once.