To anyone who's seen the video for Ahmir's single "The Wedding Song," it's clear that Ahmir is bringing some much needed change into the R&B industry. The group, comprised of Mark "Sing Sing" Robertson, Michael "Big Mike" McDonald, KC Washington, and Leon "Mr. Jones" Jones, is gearing up to release its debut album, The Gift, on April 10th and it is looking to turn some heads.
Despite being an unsigned act, the group as already made some major headway in the industry. The group has opened for many big name R&B artists including John Legend, Jagged Edge, 112 and Jaheim and have already performed around the world. In addition, their debut single, "Welcome To My Party" was #19 on Billboard's Year End R&B/Hip-Hop Sales charts. Still not convinced? The group is eligible for a Soul Train Award for Best R&B/Soul Single and Best R&B/Soul Dance Cut. When it's considered that the group is eligible alongside acts like Beyonce, Anthony Hamilton and Eric Benet, it's clear that this group offers something special.
I recently had a chance to speak with the guys and find out more about who they are and what they've got planned for the R&B scene. If the interview leaves you wanting more, check out their Myspace Page (www.myspace.com/ahmirmusic) or visit their site, http://www.ahmirmusic.com.
Interview With Ahmir
R&B Haven: It sounds like the group is from all over the place, with members from NYC, Philly and Boston. How did each of you come to be in the group Ahmir?
Ahmir: Two of us were friends already from singing together and we met KC through auditions from our management at the time. Then, we actively looked for another singer to complete the group... we saw Sing-Sing at a local show and just knew we had to have him be a part!
R&B Haven: What background in music did you have before joining the group?
Ahmir: Many of us had sung in local church choirs and had a gospel background. Big Mike actually was a member of the prestigious Boys Choir of Harlem. Sing-Sing was trained through several musical institutions including Berklee College of Music.
R&B Haven: Who does most of the actual writing?
Ahmir: Probably Mr. Jones, He's an amazing individual when it comes to songwriting. He's great at wordplay, imagery, and very quick with turning his ideas into a song with an incredible chorus, strong verses, and a standout bridge.
Nevertheless, the entire group has a hand in writing and arrangement. We often have writing sessions where we all bring our ideas to create something incredible!
R&B Haven: From the new album, "Welcome To My Party" sounds like a bumpin' club track, while "The Wedding Song" is a romantic ballad. How would you describe the group's style and the general make-up of the upcoming album, "The Gift?"
Ahmir: "The Gift" is definitely a delicate and deliberate balance of uptempo club tracks and classic-sounding ballads. We pride ourselves on great songwriting and amazing musicianship which has led to an album that is strong in both fast and slow songs.
However, if we had to pick our specialty, it would have to be the ballads. We just love the emotion ballads bring to a listener, as well as to us, the songwriters.
Nevertheless, we like to think we have shown the world that we can do it all on this album and execute our ideas with the best of the industry. The club songs are as good as any 112 track, and our ballads can match up with any Boyz II Men song.
The tracks on "The Gift" are actually uptempo songs first, and then the slow/mid-tempo ballads. This creates a nice vibe where if you're in a mood to dance, you can just let the first half ride out, and then if you want to mellow it out, you can just start half way through and sit back.
Everyone says their album is fire and has something for everybody, but we actually deliver... no question about that.
R&B Haven: What are your favorite tracks on the album?
Ahmir: Well, we put so much into all the songs that it's hard to say. We each have our individual favortes too, but as a group, we'd have to say that "Welcome To My Party," "The Wedding Song," and "True Love" are our favorite songs. However, we gotta mention that "Watch & Learn," "Let's Get This," "Donkey," "Cloud 9," "She's Over Me," and "Sure I'd Like" must get mentioned in this answer. Wait... that's almost the whole album! I guess there you go... "The Gift" is just that good!
R&B Haven: Thanks for your time, I must say, it's a pleasure to hear a fresh new sound in the industry. I wish you guys good luck with your future efforts and hope to hear more of you as time progresses.
Ahmir: It was our pleasure... Ahmir... Sing-Sing, Mr. Jones, Big Mike & KC