Finding true soul/R&B music these days could be compared by some to the tedious task of finding a needle in a haystack. The questions become which artists does one follow? Who do I turn to for consistent good classic R&B? Patriarch Recording artist Manny James believes that not only does he have the answer but, he IS the answer.
With only one goal in mind - Manny James wants fans close to him and falling in love with the substance and soul provided in not just the lead single "Close 2 Me," but with every song he records. His tireless work ethic and phenomenal live performances have taken him from his hometown stages in New Haven, CT to the big city stages of New York City.
In a recent interview with Wanda J Coppage of Music Times the "Beautiful Lies" singer described who he is as a singer/songwriter; why his style and sound provides the difference for today's music lovers, and much more.
Music Times: For those who don't know you and are not yet familiar with Manny James and your music, how would you describe your sound?
Manny James: I would say that my music is unique. I would say that it's soulful. I would say that it gets back to the heart of what music used to be. I feel like music today is missing heartbeat and I'm just trying to provide that. I'm trying to create art that will stand the test of time, that can be played 20 to 30 years from now and people still get the feeling that they got the first time they heard it. I feel like my appreciation for music and my love for music is directly tied to the music that I'm creating, as opposed to just making music for fame or fortune.
Music Times: Aside from the music itself, what about you the artist stands out from amongst all the rest?
Manny James: My performance. I'm soulful but I'm an energetic person and the music kind of takes over me when I get on the stage or I'm in front of a group of people. Whether it's five people or three thousand people, you're going to get the same show. It's just who I am. I'm connected to the music and I want the people to be connected to me and my voice.
Music Times: Speaking of your voice - are you inspired by the singing style of any other music artists - past or present?
Manny James: I'm inspired by many artists. I feel like each artists is more of collection of whomever has inspired you. So for me it starts in the '60s with Sam Cooke. Then from him to Michael Jackson, to Stevie Wonder, to Marvin Gaye and Donnie Hathaway, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston - there's just a list of people who I've actually studied and who influenced my sound. Brian McKnight, Joe... these are all people who heavily influenced who I am musically. Of course I add my own unique flavor to it but they do play a part.
Music Times: Your first EP Just Being Honest was released in 2014 and now, two years later you're preparing your next album. What can your fans expect from this album in comparison to your 2014 EP?
Manny James: Bigger. Better. Just more of me. I'm going in the same direction but I also feel like I want to reach a bigger audience. I want to give them something that's even more relatable than the first album. And I'm not out to top the first album but, I want this album to be an extension of it. A continuation of the first album... Just Being Honest reached number 14 on the iTunes R&B/Soul charts, so if that album was really good, I want this one to be great.
Music Times: Do you have a title for it yet? Where are you in the development process?
Manny James: I don't have a title but I am probably maybe 8 or 9 songs in, and I'm writing and recording often - very often. The records are coming out incredible. The team feels very strong about them, as well as I, so I don't have a title yet but as soon as I do, I'll let you know and everyone else too.
Music Times: You're writing all the songs on this album, did you write all the music on Just Being Honest too?
Manny James: I wrote maybe 80% of Just Being Honest and about 75% of the one I'm doing now. But the single that's out now "Close 2 Me," I wrote 100% of that.
Music Times: I know "Close 2 Me" is currently being played on a few Urban AC radio stations but, you've had past success beyond radio with some of your other songs right?
Manny James: Yes. "Good Company" off the first album also did real well on radio but, "If The Sky Was Blue," also did really well. We did a video for that one and it was on VH1 Soul, BET, MTV.com. That's an inspirational song. People tell me all the time that that song makes them feel good and that's what we captured in the creativity of the video. We filmed it in New York.
Music Times: What is the overall impression you want to leave on your fans?
Manny James: I want to inspire people. I want to change the world through my music. I want people to listen to my music and feel like this is a breath of fresh air, this is completely different from anything that's popular on the radio right now, this is what I need, this is what helps me get through my day. I want to be that sound, that artist that you know you can go to to get something of substance.
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