Artist Interview: M W B
Tell us about yourself and your music
At age 9, I was inspired to play the piano after hearing legendary artist, Eddie Robinson’s special guest performance at my home church in Joliet, IL. As a teenager in the mid 80’s, I accompanied choirs and soloists. One of my fondest memories was, as a young high school student, playing for the Northern Illinois University (Black Choir) and Illinois State University (Gospel Choir) for a combined choir musical workshop, under the direction of Rev. Lamont Lenox. He is an incredible gospel songwriter. Moreover, I had the opportunity to play on the radio for the first time when I accompanied a student from San Pao, Brazille, who sang at Moody’s Founders Day conference, in Chicago. After playing for the student, the President of the college, asked me to play a solo of my choice. When I went home my family and friends told me that they heard me playing over the radio. That was a special time for me. Additionally, one of my favorite early experiences was that of participating in an annual concert a Haitian congregation in Chicago. It was the first time that an interpreter was used as I performed music. After moving to the MD/DC area, I have worked with choirs, accompanied soloists and played in several bands. I am avid listener to Gospel, jazz, Neo-Soul, and Jazzpel. ? I believe that the strength of great music amalgamated with a positive message is empowering.
Talk to us more about your latest release
At age 9, I sat right next to Mr. Eddie Robinson and watched him perform. Twenty years later, I wrote him, to let him know that he had inspired me to play the piano. I just wanted to let him know that I had the opportunity to play before thousands of people, but I found my initial inspiration to play the piano, from him, in my childhood. Additionally, I shared with him that I had a band that played in the DMV area. After hearing my band play, he told me that he wanted to work with me on producing an album. Gleaming Hope was to be the first song on an album that he would produce. Gleaming Hope was very special because some very special artists and musicians collaborated in the effort. Included was the wonderful talent of Mr. Gerald Kent, formerly of Brain Storm, playing guitars. Additionally, I am thankful for the percussions and vocals of Ms. Treaty Womack (formerly Percussionist for the Funk Bros.). Mr. David Dionise layed down the beat on drums. But, I’m greatly appreciative of the production, direction, and musical participation of Mr. Eddie Robinson, my mentor. Gleaming Hope was the first song that I wrote, and I had the opportunity to work with and glean from Mr. Eddie Robinson, prior to his passing.
What inspired you to write this release?
My inspiration for writing this song were the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “When will the RADIANT STAR OF HOPE, plunged beneath the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, cause bright eyed justice to reign supreme among the hearts of men”. The imagery is that of a gleaming star whose light does not diminish. Gleaming Hope is not a flickering, dimming light but stream of radiance. Also, some verses come from an interpretation of the Proverbs. Also, I wanted to do something that would forever be etched in the minds of my children. Having my son Michael Jr. with me made it a special project. He and my daughter Mikayla personify the hope of which I speak.
Any plans to release a video?
A video in connection with the recording is upcoming. Currently, I have the cover of my album, which is a picture of my son at the age of one, on YouTube. This was a special undertaking for me, because he accompanied me in the recording studio. It is my hope, that we will coalesce on an appropriate video in the future.
Any plans to hit the road?
Currently, I am working on some concert dates in April but they are not finalized, yet.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
My brand for this project was the combination of meaningful song title, and the captivating picture of my one year old son playing the piano. The interesting thing is that he is now Mike Fulahope (Rapper). Hope continues. ?
Who have you been listening to lately?
I love the music of Kirk Whalum (Gospel According to Jazz), Amel Larrieux, Lalah Hathaway, Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, Frank McComb, Diane Krall, and Cory Henry.
Tell us about your passions
I like reading history, talking politics and hearing great speakers, speak. I love baseball and basketball. I played baseball as as youngster. I recall as a young kid, seeing Reggie Jackson hitting two homeruns, one of which went over the the scoreboard at Comiskey Park. Also, I remember going over to Wrigley and seeing the wind from the Windy City carry balls out of the park for the Cubs during the Dave Kingman days. But, my greatest love by far is the piano and sound of the Fender Rhodes. My last action at night and the first at start of a new day for many years has been playing the piano.
What else is happening next in your world?
I would like to collaborate with my son on a new music project.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Michael!