Friday, May 31, 2013


"Proverbs 18:16 - A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men." 

Oftentimes musicians and artists get asked who their influences are. Well I'd like to take sometime and talk about one of the biggest influences in my life. Most times this question is answered with the names of legends in their field, and I do have some legends that have had an impact on me as a musician, but today I want to focus on the man that had an impact on me not only as a musician, but as a man also, Mr. Willie J. McAllister, or as his students called him, Mr. Mac. 

As some may know I grew up in Detroit, in a single parent home with my mom and sister. Now, this isn't some woe is me sob story. I'm just sharing some background on my story. As a matter of fact, though my dad wasn't there, I was blessed growing up to have many men step into my life, and play that father figure role for me, and Mr. Mac was one of the first such father figures in my life.

Mr. Mac was my band director growing up from elementary to middle school, my last two years of high school, and as part of my church orchestra, and he was the one that introduced me to music as more than just something that you listen to. He taught us/me that music is a craft and something that if you work hard and practice at it, it can open up many doors and opportunities for you. He focused on and taught us excellence in everything that we do. As part of his bands I got to travel to a lot of cities and states at a young age, and got a lot of experiences that others my age never had. One of the concepts he instilled in us, even as elementary school students, is that the saying, "practice makes perfect," is in fact not one hundred percent true. Instead, its, "perfect practice makes perfect." Meaning that if you practice the wrong way, if you're lazy with your practice, come showtime, you will not get the results that you want. That's something that I've remembered to this day, that's a part of me, and that I infused into the way a practice. Mr. Mac is also one of the reasons I love funk music to this day, and a large reason why there's a big funk influence on this album. As part of his bands he had us play music from the likes of +Earth Wind & Fire and +Tower Of Power The Band, and it's crazy to think that years later I had the privilege to get to play and record with one of the founding members of the later band, more on that later. 

With Mr. Mac it wasn't just about music. He taught us life lessons, and that it's important to be a complete person. In fact there was a point in high school where my grades where straight up horrible. There's simply no other way around it. I was not applying myself at all. So, Mr. Mac sat me down, and let me know that if I didn't show some improvement and bring my grades up that I would not be able to play and travel with the bad. Come next report card, when those grades weren't up, sure enough, Mr. Mac stayed true to his word. Now, he wasn't being mean or cruel. He was being that father that I needed in that moment. Basically telling me that yes while you may be good at music the rest of your education is important too, and that I needed to give my education the same level of focus and attention that I gave to music. It was not fun having something that I loved taken away from me. Needless to say, I brought my grades up on that next report card. 

This is just one of the stories and examples of the ways that Mr. Mac has impacted my life. A lot of his impact can be seen and felt on what I was able to do with and on Love Extravagant, and I am extremely grateful and blessed to have had and to have him in my life. Both as a musician and a man. Thanks Mr. Mac!

Love Extravagant is available now on iTunes and Amazon

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My plans vs His

Proverbs 16:9: "A man's heart plans his way. but The Lord directs his steps."

When I initially started the process of creating this album, I had my own plan in mind. I have a few friends that are great producers. I could just hit them up, ask them to send me some beats, and take it from there. After they sent me the beats, the plan was to have some musicians take those beats, and play out the parts with live instruments. That sounded easy enough to me. The only problem with that, is that there was music in me that God wanted to come out, that would not have come if I would've followed my original plan. Perhaps my original idea may happen with another album, but that wasn't what God wanted this time around. Boy did I fight it though. I came up with every excuse in the book I could think of to stay with my original plan. I can't do that, I'm not a writer. I'm not that good of a producer. I'm just a guy that plays the sax. These were just some of the lies that I told myself at the beginning of this process, and that I almost convinced myself were true. My friend Ryan Jones, of the band Colorfair, even suggested several times, "why don't you just produce your own songs," and I would give him those same answers. Eventually he was able to get through to me. Once I finally conceded on my original plan, and said ok, I'll do this Your way, a flood of inspiration started to come, and it would come at some of the most random of times in the most random of ways. Now at the end of this project all of those things that I said I wasn't, I can now say that I am. No longer am I "just" a guy that plays the saxophone. I'm a writer, composer, producer, arranger, and more. This has easily been one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my life, creating this album, and I am so glad and thankful that I did it His way instead of mine.

Love Extravagant is available now on iTunes and Amazon