Sound Check: Calvin Richardson–Representing Yesterday’s Soul

Don’t call it a come back, he’s been here for years.

After a two-year hiatus, Calvin Richardson, also known as The Prince of Soul, is back with new music. With a voice that’s a throwback to another era, laced with just enough grittiness to take his listeners on a deep meaningful ride, Richardson has earned his place in soul music history by being an artist who stays true to himself and his art form. Richardson says, “Soul music is all about what’s in the lyrics and how it can connect people on a real level. If you come to one of my shows, you’ll hear music that’s about different situations. I give you the reality and for some that’s a source of healing.”

A soulful healing isn’t the only thing the Grammy-nominated crooner is up to these days.  The Prince of Soul isn’t just a singer and songwriter; he’s also a businessman, and most recently he introduced his own line of wines called Exotic Crescendo.

Soultrain.com caught up with Calvin Richardson to discuss his upcoming album, and his new tasty business venture.

SoulTrain.com:  You have always put out an album per year since 2008, but the last one was released in 2010.  Where have you been hiding, Mr. Richardson?

Calvin Richardson: Well, my workload got a little heavy. So I wanted to take time to focus on my creative process.

SoulTrain.com: Let’s talk about new music.  When can fans expect a new album?

Calvin Richardson:  I am working on a new album that should be out in October, called Enough Said. Just listen to it to see why it’s called that.  I have said so much over the years, and this is my 6th album, so once you make a bold enough statement there’s nothing left to say. It’s not like this is going to be my last album or anything but I have a lot I want to say about things that haven’t been said, and sometimes people look to me to say the things that maybe other people are afraid to say. I’ve got some things to say, and once I say this, it’s going to be Enough Said.

SoulTrain.com: Then you drop the microphone and walk away!

Calvin Richardson: Exactly! Now, I have a new single that’s out that I released titled “We’re Together.”

SoulTrain.com: What’s the inspiration behind that song?

Calvin Richardson: You know me–I deal with love and relationships, and at the end of the day, if you’re not really with the person that you’re with then you might as well be somewhere else. You have to be present and be there in the relationship.  Sometimes  2you are with a person and you are going through certain things with that person that bring you into a certain place that a new relationship can’t replace. It’s all about creating that history and a bond that’s unbreakable.

SoulTrain.com: What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

Calvin Richardson: I’d have to say the highlight in my career was in 2009-2010, getting three Grammy nominations back to back. You know, when I was on a major label I didn’t get those Grammy nods. So then I went independent, putting out albums basically every year, then that’s when I got the Grammy nominations. That’s definitely been the highlight for me.

SoulTrain.com: People often put you into different genres or categories so to speak–you are referred to as soul, neo-soul, and R&B. So for people that aren’t familiar with your sound, how would you describe it?

Calvin Richardson: It’s simple: I am the Prince of Soul. Soul music is music that strikes a chord deep down inside with people all over the world, and it’s because of the things that I write about, the things that I sing about.  It’s the emotional connection with the music, because I write and sing about things that I have been through and most people have been through it or they are going to go through it, so that’s how we connect.

SoulTrain.com:  How did you get the title “Prince of Soul?” Where did that come from?

Calvin Richardson: You know I want to know that, too! I think it was just someone wrote about me one time and called me the Prince of Soul music and it just stuck, probably right after my album When Love Comes came out in 2008.  But whoever said it, I embraced it. I truly believe that today’s people are yesterday’s soul music, so that makes me the Prince of Soul.

SoulTrain.com: How do you respond to people describing you as an underrated artist?

Calvin Richardson: I don’t think I’m underrated, probably more underexposed, since a lot of people just don’t know.  But the people that do know, they know. The ones that know are the ones that say I’m underrated.  But you know, people have their own definitions and that has just stuck, so if you don’t know then you just don’t know.

SoulTrain.com: Is there a way to change that?

Calvin Richardson: The only way to change that is through exposure, and continuing to put out good music. There’s a lot to marketing music to expose yourself to people and get them exposed to your music.  I don’t have a big machine behind me because I am independent, but sooner or later people will come across it because people get their music the same way.  That’s my focus.

SoulTrain.com: You just launched your own line of wine.  How did you get into the winery business?

Calvin Richardson: My music is all about a feeling. I like to drink wine more so than liquor and for me it inspires thought and things like that, in my creative process. Not saying that I use it all the time or anything. I work in Alabama so much, and there are a lot of wineries there.  I went on a tour of a winery  and I was just thinking, ‘I love so wine so much, and it’s so much of a part of my music that I should share that with my fans.’ So I started talking with the guy that owns the winery and telling him about it, saying I wanted to put my own wine out there with different flavors. I am a businessman as much as I am a singer. So it just evolved into Exotic Crescendo. There are four different flavors, there’s Blackberry, Select, Merlot, and I have one white wine called White Muscadine, and it’s very sweet like a dessert wine.

SoulTrain.com: What would you say has been the best advice that you have received throughout your career?

Calvin Richardson: Well, Frankie Beverly is one of the people I grew up listening to and out of the people I idolized, he was one of the top 5. I had a conversation with him about the fact that he has never had a number one record, but he has a career and everyone knows him–I don’t have to tell you who he is. People that have had hundreds of number one records are the ones opening up for Frankie Beverly. So he told me that the number one thing I need to focus on is to continue making great music and at the end of the day that’s all it comes down to. He never received a Grammy nomination, but he built a lasting fan base. He’s in his 70s now and people follow him all over the world.

SoulTrain.com: Do you think soul music is dying out? Would you agree that other genres have pushed it to the wayside?

Calvin Richardson: I think that’s absolutely true; there are not enough artists out there for it to be mainstream, and soul music just isn’t a mainstream format. It’s not what your major labels focus on, so there are not enough artists in soul music to make an impact like that. If people see the rappers living the big lifestyle, driving the big cars, then everybody wants to be a rapper. Everyone is going to try to follow the leader, so there’s not enough of an impact coming from soul music to really make a difference in the industry. I would say that soul music is not dead, because I’m still here, and Anthony Hamilton is still making hits.  He’s more of a commercial soul singer, but you can’t take away the soul elements in his music and his voice. I like Anthony and Jill Scott. Not a lot of people take the path of doing things the way I did it, because I had to do me. It’s a personal choice.

SoulTrain.com: What do you think about the lyrical content in music today?

Calvin Richardson: I’m not impressed with it. It’s kind of sad about the quality of the lyrics. Young people see what works and follow that. It’s sad we as people can listen to music that’s just that shallow. People have to put music out that has substance, otherwise you get the music that’s out about the most simple things. There’s no reason to go beyond the surface and dig deeper because that’s the music that’s being pushed today by labels and the media. I’m really disheartened by it, but it just motivates me to continue to do what I do.

Follow Calvin Richardson on Twitter @ThePrinceofSoul and for more information check out his website www.iamcalvinrichardson.com.

-Shameika Rene’

 Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, or her own site, www.themofochronicles.com. She’s also a special guest contributor on The Social Hour on Urban Soul Radio. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.



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