Tell us about yourself and your music
I’ve been in the music industry for more than fifty years. Music is my passion and I love writing music and producing. At an early age, I saw R&B singer, Jerry Butler, performing at the Regal Theater in Chicago and proclaimed : “I want to be like, and sing like Jerry Butler!” Growing up, through my sisters and brothers I was exposed to many of the classical music masters like Beethoven, Bach, and Wagner. My love for a wide range of music grew and was in my heart and eventually I produced country western and Latino Artists. As a teenager, when my Mother noticed that I had a wide vocal range she enrolled me in the University of Chicago Music Conservatory where I was able to hone and polish my vocal skills. Later, I entered numerous high school talent contests; winning first place and developed a winning attitude and the expectation that I would always win “first place.” As fate would have it , as a young adult when I moved to Reno Nevada I saw a crowd people entering a building. Following the crowd I discovered there was a singing audition being held. So I entered the audition on the spot singing two of my favorite songs: A hundred Pounds of Clay, and “I Worry About You.” I sang both songs Acapella and when the audition was over, to my dismay my name was not called. However, about two weeks later I received a card in the mail stating that I won first place from the audition; which was held to find a host for the Reno Nevada Television show “Break Out.” After I became host of the show, I formed my first band: “Maurice and the Mark IV” which was the first mixed band in Reno, Nevado. A white band with a black singer out front leading the way was a unique feature at that time, and welcomed by audiences in Reno. Our performances took us all the way to Anchorage, Alaska. In 1969, I recorded my first song for the Checkmates, “At Last True Love Comes My Way”. The song was played in wide rotation by popular Chicago radio disc jockey, E. Rodney Jones. I was then recruited by promoter, Eddie Thomas, to sing the song, ” Lucky Fellow ” which was arranged by Donnie Hathaway. Lucky Fellow became a worldwide hit after I received national exposure from my appearance on Soul Train. Lucky Fellow is still being played today in the UK and other countries. Later, along with Helen Curry, Chuck Jackson, and Eric Thomas we formed the group “The Independents which gained worldwide popularity in the 1970’s. We traveled and performed in numerous countries all over the globe. Basically, as personal leader of the group it was important to me that we always rehearsed our songs ahead of time and our creative dance steps to insure that we were giving audiences our very best at every performance. Our polished performances gained us great reviews by critics in major media leading to expansion of awards for best new vocal group. “The Independents” arrived with eight songs on Billboard’s top ten hits in 1972 including “Leaving Me” which became certified gold. Many of he Independent’s songs and music are still being played and heard in various countries worldwide and on social media platforms like UTube.
Talk to us more about your latest release
My latest release, the “HE ALBUM” had been lying dormant for over fifteen years. However, after years on the road with “The Independents ” I felt I was spiritually led to write songt and produce inspirational music that struck a universal chord. I had studied theology and had developed a broader understanding of my own special purpose in life. What better way could there be to reach masses of God’s people than by ministering to them through the universal language of music? For me, “HE” is God’s expression of HIS love for all people. Once I decided to produce the ‘HE Album,” I was driven to make it an exceptional album that would reach people emotionally and spiritually at their very soul level. My task ahead was to audition singers and musicians that I felt could be on one accord with me and give heart and soul to getting the songs done according to what I felt was needed lyrically and musically. I could audibly hear the style of the sound track I wanted to create so I had to select artists who could harmonize the background vocals and create music with me that would make each song stand out — much like making a tailor made suit So, we spent long hours of rehearsal and studio time to get us close to perfecting the message of each song on the album. My personal objective was that each song I wrote and chose for the album would bring a special message of hope to uplift people through whatever challenging circumstances they were going through in their lives. Our song, “It’s Alight Now ” reaches many who are often dealing with seemingly insurmountable health issues, terminal illness, or facing the prospect of losing a loved one or friend. “I’m So Glad I’m Saved” speaks to people who feel that they have, or want a a closer walk with God. So, it all comes back to the title of the album “HE.” God who is exalted through many religions, and also through people who feel they want to be closer to the divine, and need to truly believe that God will be there for them.
What inspired you to write this release?
Wanting to be a vessel for God, I chose to actually live for three days on the streets of Chicago with Homeless People. I wanted to feel, and understand first hand the pain and suffering that the homeless were going through. I became very sensitive in realizing how fortunate I was, and felt a tremendous desire to give back to those in need. This eventually led to my decision to pastor the Fellowship Bible Mission in Chicago, and also personally supporting and financing their Christian School for elementary students. I also became a volunteer Chaplain for the Statesville Prison System in Joliet, Illinois; the Cook County Jail; and worked with the Salvation Army in Chicago. My work with these groups over the years included a prison singing ministry in which I recruited many of my close family members to become involved. Through this work, God lifted me up spiritually, motivating me, and inspiring me to create the HE Album so that I could have a broad platform to reach HIS children everywhere.
Describe the writing and recording process
First, I create the melody for each song by playing the music and the melodies on my keyboards. After completing the melodies, I move as I’m spiritually led to write the lyrics for each song. Once the songs are completed, I’m able move to the next phase and decide what instruments I need to add to enhance musically what I envision for each recording. I have a number of musicians that I’ve used over the years who know my music and what I’m looking for to stylize each song. I usually start by developing the music with the bass and drum sounds I need before adding guitar, and other musical instruments. When that process is complete, I add my lead vocals and then I add background vocals. Once the engineer and I get the vocals and music mixed to my satisfaction, then I think about other instruments I want to add to enhance the tracks. I then add the arrangement on top of the mix, and then develop a final mix before the final mastering process.
Any plans to hit the road?
Tentatively planning to begin touring the U.S some time during March 2020.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
My vocal concepts are my badge of distinction. Also, I have my own distinct sound based on the way I arrange my songs musically, vocally as well as the way I arrange my background harmonies. Often, I hear people who have heard my music say: “Wow, that sounds like Maurice Jackson.” So, that let’s me know over the years that people do appreciate the unique sounds I’ve developed to make my music have it’s own inimitable style and presence. You know you have arrived with your own brand when you hear people in the music business also proclaim with excitement: “We we know that’s a Maurice Jackson arrangement!”
Who have you been listening to lately?
Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye
Who are your biggest influences?
Jerry Butler .. “The Iceman.” In certain parts of my stage performance I emulate the smooth movements he does while he’s performing and projecting his voice. Jerry has a magical way of painting a picture with his voice. Marvin Gaye because he performs with great energy, and his music, his style, and his charisma reflects his high energy as he grabs his audience with his unique vocal style expressed in every lyric. His vocal style and presence always moved and enthralled audiences to the depth of their emotions.
Tell us about your passions
My passions are giving, loving God and my music. I love to give back because it helps better mankind and I want the world to be a better place. I’m very passionate about my music because I feel like I’m able to create a message through my music, singing and musical talents and gifts that Gods has given me.
What else is happening next in your world?
Planning to go on an extensive Performance Tour for the new release of my HE Album, and also to do radio and television interviews to promote the Album.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Maurice Jackson
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