Calvin Richardson: Making Real Music

Calvin Richardson

Calvin Richardson's a strong believer in real music. In an industry that focuses on fifteen minutes of fame and selling the most albums in the shortest period, Calvin has been able to take a step back and maintain faith in music as a form of expression. In his three albums, Country Boy, 2:35PM and When Love Comes, Calvin has made sure to put his own stamp on every track and to enrich his songs with his feelings. In doing so, Calvin Richardson has become one of the strongest forces in the soul movement.

Having spoken with Calvin, it is clear to see that he stands as a glistening ray of light in an industry that has been taken over by darkness. His latest album, When Love Comes, highlights the plaguing deficits in the industry as he talks about the pressures of the industry in his lead single "Sang No More." Written and produced almost exclusively by Calvin, the album is part of Calvin's efforts to revive the industry.

In addition to his work on his own, Calvin has done a great amount of work with other artists. In the following interview, Calvin talks about his work in gospel with K-Ci & JoJo Hailey, and recent tracks they've recorded as a group called P.O.C. Having been in the industry for over fifteen years, Calvin's got a lot on his mind and the experience shines in his words. Check out the interview below or listen to the audio version! If you want to learn more about Calvin, check out Calvin Richardson's MySpace or his personal web site.

Interview with Calvin Richardson

This is Matt Fyffe, R&B Guru from Today with me is Calvin Richardson, the soulful singer behind the albums Country Boy, 2:35PM and most recently, When Love Comes, which hit stores earlier this year. Calvin's been in the game for a long time now, and he's worked with artists including Chico DeBarge, K-Ci Hailey, Angie Stone and many more.

Calvin, it's great to have you with us today.

It's good to be here Matt.

So I thought to start things off, we'd go over your latest album When Love Comes. It came out in May and it's been doing pretty good. Can you tell us a little more about it.

It's my latest cd after a five year hiatus. My last album came out in 2003, I was on Hollywood Records then. I took some time off after I left Hollywood Records in 2006. I bought a studio and just started recording stuff, getting my legs up where I wanted to be. I wanted to finally make an album when I didn't have a label breathing down my neck. When Love Comes is the product of that.

Calvin Richardson goes independent with his third album, When Love Comes, and embeds his album with more soul in the process.
How do you think working as an independent artist has influenced your music?

Basically, it's just me. I chose the direction. I wrote all the songs. I produced a majority of the songs. For the first time in my career, the world gets to hear Calvin Richardson and me being me.

Looking at it as just you being you, did any themes come out in the songs as you wrote and performed them?

I wanted to stay true to my soulful background. I used some inspiration. Things like a song from Curtis Mayfield. I listen to a lot of Curtis Mayfield to get in the right mindset. There was no real theme to the album, other than me staying true to soul music. I wanted to have a up-tempo contemporary feel as well, to keep my balance in place. Just talk about real things like I always do. But like a lot of times I've experienced in the past, certain songs I would write and want to record, the record label would want to have another producer take a stab at it.

How do you think the album compares to a lot of the music out there today?

To me, there's no real comparison. It's just totally different from what's out there. There's some artists out there contributing to real music, but as a whole, I think it's different from everything out there. I don't get caught up in trying to make records for the radio. I make records of what I feel and what's real. If the radios play it, that's all good. They don't, that's even better as long as the fans can connect to it and they get it, I'm cool.

What tracks do you like most on the album?

Man that's tough. I really love "Sang No More." "Sang No More" was my mind state after I left Hollywood Records. The industry is just so controlled and driven by mainstream. I really didn't wanna be in the industry anymore. It wasn't that I didn't wanna sang no more, I just didn't wanna be a part of the industry.

"Make Friends With Love" is another one of my favorites as well. Between those two, it's hard to pick. It's a toss up.

You've been in the industry for a long time. Has the industry changed while you've been in it?

From the label's standpoint, it's changed gradually. But as far as the industry's concerned, I don't see the change. As far as real music, it is what it is. It's real commercial. It's not about real music, it's about what sells at the time and about who's the one selling those records. If there's another artist out there selling records and he's got a certain sound, then they want you to make a product that sounds similar to that so they can capitalize on those sales.

I'm staying my course. My entry into the game was as such and I'll stay that way until I get out of the game. Hopefully by that time, there will be enough of us artists making a good enough example to show that you can sustain a career in this game even if you don't sell out.