October 16th will be the culmination of the first leg of Antoine Dunn’s journey; on this date, his debut album The Truth of the Matter will be released. His trek from Cleveland, Ohio to “Can’t Forget” finding a place on your iPod hasn’t been unlike many artists before him, but the grace and determination he’s traveled with is all his own. Currently, he’s bringing his heart and soul to cities across the country opening for Anthony Hamilton and Estelle on the former’s Back to Love tour, but soon the spotlight will be his and his alone.
This moment is bittersweet for Antoine Dunn; of course he’s excited to release his first album, but he’ll be celebrating with his mother’s memory in his heart and thoughts of his cousin on his mind. On the morning “Can’t Forget” was released to radio he was singing at his mother’s funeral, days after a long battle with breast cancer took her life. The album is being released on the birthday of a cousin that was murdered while Antoine was laying the foundation for this day. That type of pain is enough to make a man quit, but it’s also the type of pain that feeds a man’s soul and finds it outlet through the music he’s committed to making.
If this moment seemed far from a reality last year, it may have been unfathomable to a shy kid coaxed into an audition for the school’s choir in middle school by a teacher who just happened to be a musician at his parents’ wedding. What started as a favor to old friends turned into a discovery, as the young man who’d absorbed the vocal styles of the Dramatics, Stylistics and Chi-Lites from his family’s stereo had become a vocalist in his own right. In the coming years, he would win numerous talent shows, begin writing songs (of course girls became his muse), and made the greatest discovery of his young life: The piano. The piano would become his greatest asset and his biggest downfall, as its calling led him out of the classroom and put him in danger of not finishing high school. Once he got his act together and found the balance between his love for music and the necessity of an education, there was no stopping Mr. Dunn.
Thank goodness for guidance counselors.
While working at Walgreens, he received an errant Facebook message that led him to a studio, only to discover that he was not the Antoine the producer was looking for. The studio’s owner liked what he heard in the young songwriter and provided him the platform to improve his craft and begin to write songs to shop to established artists. Never one to turn down an opportunity, he found himself in Thailand working with a Top-40 cover band, developing a sound, maturing and cultivating experiences that would pay off upon his return to the States. His stay overseas was cut short by his mother’s declining health, so he returned home and began working on his solo career. While weighing an offer from Elite Music Group his mom divulged that her cancer had advanced to a terminal stage; on the verge of a turning point in his life, he was now faced with the reality that his mother would not be able to share in his joy. The very next day he signed his deal and within weeks she was gone.
With a renewed passion, Antoine threw himself into work, landed a gig opening for Anthony Hamilton’s winter dates in support of his single “Woo,” and began the framework for what will become The Truth of the Matter. This is an album that essentially wrote itself; still reeling from the loss of his mother, he also endured a devastating breakup that yielded close to 100 songs being written, the last of which was “Can’t Forget”.
The music became his therapy, his refuge, a place where he could explore beyond the traditional confines of life and experiment with emotions and stories that juxtapose artist and listener. As his debut single raced up the charts, he was invited back on the road with Anthony Hamilton on his Back to Love tour where he was able to share with concertgoers a taste of what he has to offer. He’s reached an exciting time, a time filled with anxiety and angst, as the anticipation of giving so much of himself to the public is nearing reality. He’s been working the social media sites, connecting with folks who’ve reached the venues early and heard his music, those that have found their way to his website and lovers of the organic sound experience he’s prepared.
Antoine Dunn is a product of endless possibilities. He’s bringing a sense of understanding to music, while aiming to encourage those within range of his voice. Though his songs will come from a man’s point-of-view, they are filled with appreciation for women and their side of the relationship game as he explores the complexity of love. He’s remained motivated in the face of challenges, followed his dream and hopes to provide an example for others.
Follow Antoine Dunn on Twitter (@antoinedunn), connect with him on Facebook, and visit www.AntoineDunn.com to stay current with this new voice in R&B. The Truth of the Matter is available October 16th, executive produced by Edwin “Tony” Nicholas and courtesy of Elite Music Group.
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find Al-Lateef Farmer: Black man, husband, social documentarian, and slinger of Soul by the pound. His brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought can be found at http://worldaccording2teef.com, and on Twitter @wrldacrdng2teef.