Our Conversation with Will Downing | 2008

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The Urban Music Scene brings to you a stellar interview straight from 2007, featuring our very own Terrill J. Hanna, as Will speaks about his comeback to music, his new release & various other topics!         


TERRILL:     The Urban Music Scene is elated to have with us a legendary crooner of his own right. One of the most blessed vocalist of his and our time and of course the future generation. We are ecstatic to have with us today Mr. Will Downing!!  

WILL:             Hey! 

TERRILL:     Hey baby. Will is in the house! What’s up Will? 

WILL:             Aw man, you had me looking around when you said gifted vocalist. I was like ‘man, I wonder who he’s talking about’. 

TERRILL:     There’s no – without a doubt, it’s you my brother!  

WILL:             Well thank you very much man. Glad to be put in that elite status. 

TERRILL:     You are the elitist. 

WILL:             Ah, thank you sir, thank you! 

TERRILL:     Much obliged. Many of your projects from over the years….well over 20 years have spanned some very great songs. Some very good music. In fact I had the privilege of seeing one of your videos that broke you out back in 1987 or ’88. 

WILL:             Whoa, whoa…. 

TERRILL:     Remember when “Video Soul”…. 

WILL:             I tell you not to say it!!

TERRILL:     Donnie Simpson and Sherry Carter? 

WILL:             Oh my God!! Man!! 

TERRILL:     They dropped that one song man, “Living Here Without You.” Isn’t that the track?  

WILL:             There’s a little bit more???? 

TERRILL:     That’s right! 

WILL:             Oh my God. 

TERRILL:     It was beautiful man, ‘cuz I was like ‘Oh look at Will, ohh.”  

WILL:             That’s blackmail stuff right there. 

TERRILL:     Yes it is! That’s one of the best albums you put out. Other than the new one you got coming out. I mean just about every album you put out is stellar. But that was the one. 

WILL:             Hey man, I’ll take it. You know what? It was a stepping stone to the next one. And that was a stepping stone to next one after that. And here we are 20 some odd years later. 

TERRILL:     20 some odd years later. 

WILL:             And still making good music and just trying to hold up the flag for what we call real

TERRILL:     Hello. Hello.  Do we still have it out there? 

WILL:             Yes. It’s still there man. It’s just that it’s taken a back seat or a side seat to a lot of Hip Hop. It’s very strange that now this Hip Hop has become so big that R&B music has taken a back seat. Which is a strange thing in the world to me. 

TERRILL:     You’re right. Right! 

WILL:             Everything that is defined in R&B music or Black music or whatever you want to call it is defined by Hip Hop. So when I tell people who don’t know who I am as an artist. They always ask what do you do for a living – I say I am a recording artist. They say, ‘you’re too old to be a rapper.’ I was like ‘why do I have to rap’? Oh well, that’s the way I see Black music today. I’m going, ‘no, no, no!’ It used to be singers first, and then everything else next. And now, we’ve taken this side seat or back seat however you want to call it, to Hip Hop and Rap. 

TERRILL:     Well you know, what gets me too, Mr. Downing is that Hip Hop took the R&B beats to make it what it is today. Rap music… 

WILL:             Exactly. 

TERRILL:     You talk about the Sugar Hill Gang. They took that from Chic, from “LeFreak.” So it’s kind of strange. I kind of agree with your assessment. It’s like real music is coming back though. 

WILL:             It definitely is. There’s a lot of talent out there. The way the industry is now, you don’t know whether or not they will get an opportunity to really shine over the years because there’s no longevity in careers anymore. They hit it and quit it. But, I guess I’m grateful to be born at the right time. 

TERRILL:     Hello. Right on man! 

WILL:             I came at the right time. 

TERRILL:     Right on and at the right time! You got this new album – “After Tonight”

WILL:             “After Tonight”… 

TERRILL:     “After Tonight.” What’s up with “After Tonight,” man? 

WILL:             Well, I think, I can’t remember how many CDs this is for me but, almost 11, 12. In any case, just another chapter in the book of my life. I’m really… really grateful to those who participated on the record. I’m featuring my good friend Gerald Albright, my friend Kirk Whalum, and I also pulled out one of my old buddies, Roy Ayers, to kind of play on this record as well. 

TERRILL:     Yes! 

WILL:             It’s a good outing man. It’s ten great songs – ten of what I believe to be very good performances. I’m really looking forward to the public reaction to what I consider to be one of my better albums. 

TERRILL:     We go back to your statement – Timing. You couldn’t ask the Lord for anything more better than the timing of your release – going into this time of the year. You know….when you get really comfortable by the fireplace and the fall and the winter seasons just brings the best out of you and the best out of your mate. It really sets up the mood. Are you planning to really match mate some people out of this album? 

WILL:             Well you know man, many a child born from listening to a Will Downing CD. Many a relationships has been solidified while listening to a Will Downing CD. So I’ve been told. So I’m just trying to hold up my end of the bargain. 

TERRILL:     Hey, I’m going to confirm those statements. I’ve been married now, 6 going on 7 years and my wife is digging everything you’ve got going man (musically), so … 

WILL:             Put it on and you got a solid ‘nother year. A solid year! 

TERRILL:     No d
oubt man! Because I tell you that when you croon man, it is ON and it is Crackin’!! I know I have to take a back seat and chill for a minute and let girl, just let her have her moment. You know… 

WILL:             You don’t have to say a word. As a matter of fact if you say something, you’ll probably be in the wrong. (laughter) 

TERRILL:     I’ll tell you man, she had a bridal party, just last about 3 weeks ago and had her girlfriend play that release you had with Gerald Albright.  

WILL:             Oh “Pleasures of the Night”! 

TERRILL:     “Pleasures of the Night,” They kicked all the rest of the guys, who ever was hanging around, out of there! Of course you and Gerald have been such a credible combination from over the years. So are you two ever planning to play together again? 

WILL:             We talked about doing a part 2 to that record and it will be amazing. It definitely is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when.  

TERRILL:     Just a matter of when. I tell you what, You’re complimented & flanked with these stellar artists. And from what I hear, I heard the tune with Roy Ayers. What was it like to play with him in the studio? 

WILL:             I have known Roy for quite some time man, and he is an amazing talent. And I don’t know how well you know Roy, but Roy is nuts, man he is crazy.  

TERRILL:     I believe it. I believe it in his music.

WILL:             He’s very talented! That cat is nuts boy. 

TERRILL:     He’s definitely gifted. You know you’re talking about another individual, who is a legendary jazz icon. I still got all of his LPs sitting in the garage on standby. 

WILL:             Oh yes. There you go! 

TERRILL:     I got his stuff! Like I said, I collect this stuff and I know I’m not the only one. And I guess that’s why I am so privileged to do these interviews. Because the thousands of people coming and hitting the site, they’re digging everything about it, everything about it. And  going back to the word – timing – again you couldn’t ask for a better term than just real music coming back from the back seat and hope that it will come to the forefront. 

WILL:             It certainly will, man. Like I said, people like Roy and people like Gerald and Kirk Whalum – all the artists that have maintained holding up the banner for real music. We’re still here. There’s a reason we’re still here. We do what we do well. Really, it’s a matter of somebody breaking through and bringing it right back to the forefront. You need your core artists to be a little bit more involved and I wish I could get Anita Baker to make a record every year – two years. Or a Sade or something like that.  You put on a record and let people know that we’re still here. And that this is where it comes from. So we maintain until something breaks through. It doesn’t stop us from putting out what we consider to be great music. 

TERRILL:     Do you think we still have enough formats and podiums out there in terms of radio and…?

WILL:             No way near it. I mean basically at this point radio has become almost like a puppet whereas you know there’ll be one core station and they’ll program for radio stations across the country. Which isn’t really fair because each region is different. The East Coast has a sound, the South East has a sound, the Mid West has a sound the West Coast has a sound. The only way we are going to get to kind of make our individualism shine, is that someone breaks out and says ‘Hey man have you heard this yet?’ Check this out. Play something new. Play something from a young up and coming artist. Introduce something, an album cut as opposed to…. I understand what going after singles is all about, but like someone would just do one… 

TERRILL:     Take a chance. 

WILL:             Take a chance. 

TERRILL:     Take a chance, because you know what – I’ll take it deeper. I’m really happy, I’ve never been happier in my life Will than to see the Tribune Broadcast Company, rebroadcasting the old “Soul Train” episodes. 

WILL:             Wow! 

TERRILL:     The old “Soul Train.” They took the new episodes put that on the back burner and they’re putting out the old “Soul Train,” I’m talking about stuff from the ’70s and the ’80s, baby! 

WILL:             Oh yes. Now THAT’S when it was real!

TERRILL:     That’s when it was real. And then on that show, they would take a chance and play an obscure track, from an R&B group and that’s when you really got into playing the whole vinyl. Both sides! Do you miss that?

WILL:             Um hum! I mean, there was a guy here named Frankie Crocker and Frankie would take a record, a DJ, he would take a record and just say ‘hey man you guys have never heard this before?’ But I heard it and I loved it. I’m going to play it for you – make it or break it. I just wish that radio stations would take a chance like that 

TERRILL:     Right! 

WILL:             Not necessarily with my music, just with music in general and let the public decide. Don’t give them the same twenty or thirty songs over and over and over again. All day. It’s draining. It is draining. 

TERRILL:     Yes it is. 

WILL:             I would just love for them to say OK – Bring it on! I don’t care if it’s over seas, England. I’m going to bring this to you tell me what you think. Man it would be such a healthy environment. 

TERRILL:     It would be. I think that it’s just a matter of too much corporations getting in the way of careers. 

WILL:             Without a doubt. 

TERRILL:     It gets discouraging. I hear it resonating throughout the music industry. And it’s just what….. it only makes cats like myself get back out there with our website. Keep doing what we do best and try as best we can to put this traffic in their ears and maybe we can take it there online. 

WILL:             And that would be great. 

TERRILL:     And then hopefully the Lord will bless with a couple of millions of dollars (laughter). Then I could buy my own radio station and I could possibly change the game! 

WILL:             Well you know what man, anything is possible, just stay on track. Just stay on track! 

TERRILL:     Yes sir, that is a word of encouragement I would definitely take bro. And speaking of such and the Lord man, you have an amazing track on your album “God is So Amazing.” 

WILL:             Aw man, thank you! That basically came from me being ill for a good part of 2007 and on the comeback. It obviously isn’t all on me. There’s obviously a higher being that’s kind of navigating this whole thing and me recognizing it. So you know that’s where it came from. “God Is So Amazing.”  

TERRILL:     And that’s an inspirational tune, a good way to finish up on that album altogether. That’s an awesome album, man! 

WILL:             Thank you man, I appreciate it. 

TERRILL:     It’s definitely an awesome album. You have anything planned up for the year 2008 coming? 

WILL:             Well, I mean more than likely we would be touring behind this record and bringing to the people and bringing the best of what I’ve done over the last twenty-some odd years to the stage and that’s what I enjoy doing most. We’re looking forward to it, so in 2008 for those who would like to know what’s going on, come to my site and it’s tell you what I’m doing and where I’m going to be. So come to www.willdowning.com and it will keep you current. 

TERRILL:     Keep you in the loop. 

WILL:   &n
Keep you in the loop… 

TERRILL:     It’s in the interview and it’s going to be on the site directly, man. Going back to the music we were talking about today. Just out of curiosity, is there any particular vocalist out there that has caught your attention? 

WILL:             Um, Ledisi.  

TERRILL:     Ledisi, oh God, she is good. Oh man!! 

WILL:             What an amazing talent. 

TERRILL:     I had the privilege to interview her. Iit’s on the site now as a matter of fact. Beautiful lady man.  

WILL:             Oh yes, and an amazing talent. Her time is now and I certainly see a long career from her. And  she’s the next one to kind of carry the flag. I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s going to bring and her record’s something to listen to right now. When she proves exactly what I’m saying that she’s a great talent. 

TERRILL:     Wow, yes, and from what I understand she has a filming career too. 

WILL:             Oh yeah? 

TERRILL:     You been thinking about acting? 

WILL:             Nooo. Unless you want me to act like a singer. I don’t think you would see me in that man. The Denzels’ and the other people of the world, I’m a singer that’s all I do. 

TERRILL:     You’re a blessed singer too, my brother. 

WILL:             Thank you. 

TERRILL:     Man, I look forward to seeing you, are you coming to Southern Cal any time soon? 

WILL:             I hope so man, I don’t have anything on the books right now, but you know we’re always out that way trying to make things happen. 

TERRILL:     Cool man, cool. Well, send my love to my people on the East Coast. Are you calling from New Jersey? 

WILL:             New Jersey right now. It’s a beautiful day out here. 

TERRILL:     Aw man, that’s my old neck of the woods. 

WILL:             Well come on back. 

TERRILL:     I’m trying man, I’m working on it. 

WILL:             You got it, man. 

TERRILL:     I’m working on it man, we love you my brother. 

WILL:             Thank you sir. 

TERRILL:     See you soon!!