Excitement doesn't nearly express the feelings evoked when given the opportunity of speaking with Calvin Richardson. To say I've love his music would be an understatement. I've literally followed his music and craft since mid-nineties. He first was a part of the group Undacova. But eventually landed solo with Universal Records. His style is like no other. He safely blends multiple genres, including gospel, R&B & soul, It's no wonder though, as he had many influences ranging from Bobby Womack and Donny Hathaway to Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Listening to his music, you'll here a lot of undertone from the rhythmic styles of the 60s and 70s eras.
In my mind, R&B has long gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to promotion, recognition, air play, and so on. I've always wondered why GOOD R&B music just doesn't seem to live units. You have good artists who just don't push the units. I've always felt that way of Richardson. He'd be making some of the best music ever, but it just wasn't hitting where I felt it should be, given the crowd, and people behind it.
With this new album, things are making quite a shift! New label, thanks to #EricBenet, two chart-topping singles out now, and so much more going. His music has been featured in both Empire and LHHNY! He's recently performed at the Trumpet Awards, honoring musical legends The Isley Brothers. The train is definitely moving at full speed! Calvin slows down, just for a moment, to talk to us about his journey!
Urban Grandstand Digital: Thank you so much for your time today. As someone who has followed your music for so long, it’s a blessing to be able to talk. I appreciate you becoming a part of our movement with Urban Grandstand Digital and us being able to showcase good music and talent.
Calvin Richardson: Most definitely. It's my pleasure.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So your current album, I realize it’s been out for just over 6 months now, but prior to that, you were away for 4 years. What has happened in that time? And what takes one away from something that is their passion, and what they love to do?
Calvin Richardson: Honestly, I wouldn’t say that I was truly way from it. I just wasn’t working with a label at the time, but I was still out there, recording music and doing shows. That was actually how Eric and I connected. We had a show somewhere, and he ended up reaching out. Just because of the fact I was still active to let people know I was still able.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m glad we’re talking about that. A lot of times, you hear of artists signing to another artist, and things don’t go as planned in terms of promotion, and getting the material out there. Was there any concern, or fear, of you signing to another artist? I’ve always said in my mind that one artist should not sign to another, based on the things I’ve seen in certain cases.
Calvin Richardson: I don’t know that I had any fear, but I thought the same way. I had concerns, but once Eric and I met and talked about me signing to Jordan House Records, I saw how much he was into keeping real good music alive, and just looking at his history, we connected on a musical level. He put my concerns to rest. I was totally comfortable when it came time to put pen to paper.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So again, it’s been a little over six month with this album out, and obviously, you want things to progressively get better with each album. It seems with IAmCalvin that things are getting more playback, more feedback, and so forth. You have two chart-topping singles. What’s different this time around?
Calvin Richardson: Like you said, you want the last effort to outdo the past, and you don’t want to get to that point where things are declining. With each project, I focus on my delivery and growth. Obviously coming together with Eric, and him being such a quality artist, writer, and singer, it makes people pay closer attention. Aside from that, I’m proud of the work we came up with.
Urban Grandstand Digital: People are really taking notice now. You’re being featured everywhere now, with things like Empire, and Love & Hip-Hop. How does that feel?
Calvin Richardson: It feels good man. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. When you’re working in any field and you get recognized, it’s a good feeling. You put it out there for people to gravitate to it and receive it. When you see those things happen, and get opportunities like having songs featured in big productions, and performing at award shows, it’s great. I performed at the Trumpet Awards back in January too.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Not only was it good for you to perform there in general, but to give tribute to someone that’s been doing this for as long as the Isley Brothers. That had to be a good feeling.
Calvin Richardson: Most definitely, and It’s true. To pay tribute to someone of that caliber. I have great respect for them. I was definitely honored to even have that opportunity.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So What was the response from the Isley brothers, or did you even have an opportunity to get any feedback from them?
Calvin Richardson: I had a chance to speak to them a little back stage, and they definitely enjoyed it. They said they were proud of what we did.
Urban Grandstand Digital: That’s really good. Surely, you did good, but you always wonder how the artist really feels. Here and there, you see some tributes, and the artist is no pleased.
Calvin Richardson: Right.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize you co-wrote “There Goes My Baby” for Charlie Wilson. How did that opportunity come about?
Calvin Richardson: That song, I actually recorded it for myself. It wasn’t originally going to be for Charlie Wilson. It was co-written with Babyface and Mike Phelps. I was still signed to Hollywood records, and it was going to go on my next album. As fate would have it, that record never came out, and we didn’t do anything with that music. Greg, the producer, was signed under Babyface productions. When Charlie was working on his album, he was looking for material, and Greg was able to present that to him. The rest is history.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So you’ve released two singles already. Will you release more?
Calvin Richardson: That’s something I would love to answer, but I don’t know just yet. I feel there’s more good singles, but there’s also business involved as well. We just have to stay tuned and see. What I do know is there’s a lot of good things in the works around IAmCalvin, and it’s good to be Calvin (laughing)
Urban Grandstand Digital: I’ve always said that I would love to hear an album with you, Angie Stone, and Raphael Saadiq. I think you guys just have this really strong chemistry together, which was evidenced by the song “Excuse Me” from Raphael’s debut, Instant Vintage. I’ve always loved that song, and hell, that was 13 years ago. It probably sounds crazy, but has that thought ever come up with any of you?
Calvin Richardson: You know what it is. It definitely is a really good chemistry. Angie Stone is just one of the realest soul singers you’re ever going to get out there. Raphael Saadiq is so true to this thing, and he understands it so well. It’s a part of his DNA, and he gets it. I live and breathe it. I was raised up on it, from the dirt on up. So, our chemistry had to work. it was automatic. It wasn’t forced, or contrived. I remember us being in the studio, and being able to meet him for the first time with Angie Stone was amazing. He played me the song, and I remember we were going back and forth. He wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with it, and asked me if I had anything. I just started to sing “Hey excuse me please, you sure look good to me”, and he loved it. Right then, we realized there was chemistry and magic. As far as an entire album, I don’t believe the three of us ever sat down collectively and talked about a full album and capitalizing from it. Now Angie and I on the other hand, we’ve actually recorded a full album of material together. Things just got off track, but we still have it.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I think it’s something you still could capitalize on. Even with you two, but to also have Raphael, because of the chemistry, it would be great. That song alone was awesome, so I can only imagine what a full album would do.
Calvin Richardson: I think it would definitely be something to be talked about.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What else is new for you in general? Is anything else coming? Have you even thought of recording more now?
Calvin Richardson: Now that, I don’t have to think much about. I’m always making new music. I have a studio in my house where I write and record my ideas. There will definitely be more music in my future. I deal with things as they come. I’m out here performing and doing more touring. Trying to stay focused, but the music is automatic. I don’t even have to be in the studio to make music. I live it.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What are you most proud of with your new album, and also with your career?
Calvin Richardson: I’m really proud, as far as this album is concerned, that I’ve gotten with a team who embraced my vision and believed in my destination. That goes from Eric, to every person at Primary Wave and BMG. They really are supporting the music, and it has already paid off. I’m proud because it hasn’t always been a part of my situations in the past. To have that real support that’s needed to get the recognition that is required for you to become a force to be reckoned with. As far as my career, it’s been so many different things I’m proud of. I keep getting in situations, and always get drafted, so to speak. I’m never sidelined to be sidelined for good. There’s always another situation, or something out there for Calvin. I’ve stayed consistent enough to show people that and prove that I should also be taken seriously in this business.
Urban Grandstand Digital: That also comes from the level of professionalism that you exhibit in what you do. When you’re professional, even if you leave a situation, if you do it the right way, people are more willing to work with you.
Calvin Richardson: Absolutely...
Urban Grandstand Digital: Before I hit final comments, You’ve been connected with so many other artists throughout the years, including K-Ci and JoJo. How was that for you to see them reunite with Jodeci, and get this new album out there?
Calvin Richardson: I’m proud of them. We’ve remained close through the years. I talk to them almost on a weekly basis. They are very talented guys. People have obstacles, but at the end of the day, no one can take away the talent or the contributions they’ve made to the industry. I like how the album sounds, and I love the success they’re having. There was a void that no one could fill except them.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I think they are a testament that regardless of what goes on you still can follow your dreams and do what you want to do.
Calvin Richardson: That’s right...
Urban Grandstand Digital: Any final comments at all?
Calvin Richardson: I think we covered everything. We know the album is out. If people don’t have it, they should not be the last ones to hear it. Continue to look for more things from Calvin Richardson, and I want people to know I am very appreciative for the support I’m receiving now, as well the support that I have had for the years that kept me in the game to get to this point.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I think it goes vice versa. People are appreciative for your professionalism and good music. Truth is, we don’t always get that with everyone. So with that, I say thank you again for the opportunity to talk today.