Sound Check: Walter McCarty–Soul & Basketball, A Tale of Two Careers

It’s a bit of a career change, but that isn’t stopping retired basketball pro Walter McCarty from pursuing his passion for music. “I’m a singer at heart, I just love music,” says McCarty.

Walter McCarty has an extensive resume. The 6’10” gentle giant is best known for taking it to the hoop first as a standout at the University of Kentucky, followed by a lengthy career in the NBA with the Knicks, Celtics, Suns, and Clippers. With his soon to be released 3rd album Unbreakable, McCarty is hoping to score big in the music industry. 

Soultrain.com caught up with Walter McCarty to discuss his transition from the hardwood to the music studio.

Soultrain.com: How did you go from being an NBA player to the music industry?

Walter McCarty: I had always been into music growing up. People that know me and that are close to me, they all know I have a passion for music. I grew up singing in the church choir, and all through school did concert choirs. I just always had that passion, but I just happened to grow to be 6’10” so I was supposed to play basketball and I love the game, but I also love music. It’s been a great challenge for me, and if I didn’t pursue it, then I’d probably regret it when I become an old man, so this is just my time to do this and express myself in this way and allow people to see me in a different light.

Soultrain.com: There are a lot of athletes that want to or have ventured into a hip-hop career. That wasn’t on your radar?

Walter McCarty: Not at all. I’m one of those smooth guys–I like romance.  Honestly, I’m a singer at heart. I love music.

Soultrain.com: Who are some of your influences?

Walter McCarty: Growing up I used to listen to Stevie Wonder, I was always a huge Jackson 5 fan, Donny Hathaway, Ella Fitzgerald, and so I would say those would have to be my early influences.  After I got to high school I started listening to Boyz II Men, Babyface, and Brian McKnight.  Those are the some of the artists that I model myself after, the way I write and sing. I would study them, what kind of runs they were doing, and those are the really the guys that inspired me to want to be a musician.

Soultrain.com: How would you describe your sound?

Walter McCarty: I’m a guy that loves setting the mood. My first two albums are really romantic R&B soulful albums. The new album Unbreakable has some of that also, but it is a mixture; it has some club joints, it has some R&B soul, some songs that are crossover pop songs–there’s something for everybody.  Whatever I’m feeling at the time, is what I’m writing and what I put on the album. I’m an artist, so I just don’t categorize myself as just an R&B guy. I’m all of the genres I mentioned. I don’t just put myself in a box when it comes to the music I listen to, either. I like good music, so that’s what I try to do: Give listeners good music.

Soultrain.com: How did you come up with the name Unbreakable for the album?

Walter McCarty: It’s based off a song that’s on the album, but it really represents the things that we go through, the ups and downs, all of the changes from being an NBA Player, to a coach and now to a musician, I’m still here and not broken. I’ve been blessed and I thank God. The title could represent anything that you made it through it just shows that you are unbreakable.

Soultrain.com: Why did you decide to go the indie route and not chase after a major record label deal?

Walter McCarty: Well for me, it’s tough to trust people. So many people come at me wanting to work with me, and you never know who is credible, so I like to be hands-on and know exactly what is going on. I like to write and produce my own music and put it out when I want to put it out. Since people label me as an athlete, it’s hard to break out of that. I mean yeah, I played basketball, but I’m an artist. For me, it’s just been an opportunity to brand myself and do things the way that I want to do it.

Soultrain.com:  How do you think you’ll compete against the artists that are out there, like Trey Songz, Tyrese, Tank, Ginuwine and so on?  How will you make your music stand out?

Walter McCarty: I’m an indie artist, so I’m not going to compete with them, but what I can do is maximize my exposure to the people that do know me, and that’s by combining my athletic career along with my music career. It’s about just really getting those people to check out what I’m doing now. I have a fan base of people that know me as an athlete and those are the people that I have to reach.

Follow Walter McCarty on Twitter @WalterMcCarty and check out his website www.waltermccarty.com.

–Shameika René

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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