Friday, September 7, 2012

R&B Singer Devone Doss

I found Devone Doss for our interview doing what he does best: Writing.

The Peoria, IL native and R&B singer, who recently earned his degree in Digital Media Technology from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, was sitting at his computer, working on brand new music when I sat down to talk to him. It was just a music track, but the track fit Doss to a tee: smooth &B with just a slight hip hop edge.

With hits like ‘I Need You’ and ‘Friday Night’, Doss gives live to a genre of music that at times is overshadowed in Wisconsin by hip-hop. His writing and his delivery harkens back to a time of soulful crooners such as Marvin Gaye and Donnie Hathaway, who incidentally are two of his musical influences.

What also sets Doss apart from other acts is his believability. When he writes, you feel what he is saying. You understand where he is coming from, because he is coming from a believable place. He has been through it all, and has come out on the other side a better man, and subsequently, a better songwriter.

                What do you want people to hear in YOUR music?

In my music, I want you to be able to feel everything I went through. I want you to be able to understand and just know that you can make it through any type of situation. The best writers are those that have gone through some adversity in life. You can’t just pick up a microphone and start singing, or even rapping for that matter. It has to make sense.

 When did you fall in love with music?

I was seven years old and I was listening to a lot of women singers. That is how I learned how to sing. I listened to Patti LeBelle, Chaka Khan, and a lot of gospel female artists. I would listen to their voices because I loved the vocal tricks they could do. One day, Stevie Wonder sang “Rocket Love” and my voice fit.

Who are your musical influences?

Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Michael McDonald, Commissioned.

Describe your music.

My music is fun, its feel good music, its love, it’s me.

You are making a mix tape of your all time favorite songs. What is the FIRST song on it and why?

IT would start out with Commissioned, ‘No more loneliness’. The first line goes: Lord I don't wanna be lonely, though I know you love me and you still care, I must confess that nevertheless, there is loneliness. (laughs). My goodness. Just a great line.

Best performance you ever gave.

1992; I opened up for EPMD, Father MC, Gang Starr, and Chubb Rock at Peoria Civic Center. I was with my dance group, called the Mercedes Boyz, and I performed in front of 12,000 people. That let me know that I could do better.

Was that the biggest crowd you ever performed in front of?

No, the biggest was about 17,000 at the Danville, IL Civic Center.

Worst performance you ever gave.

I got booed of stage in my hometown. That right their pushed me to do better. There is a saying in Peoria. ‘If you can’t make it in Peoria, you can’t make it anywhere.’ Peoria is like playing the Apollo in New York. They are VERY critical. I was dancing.

When did you starting SINGING in front of crowds?

I started really singing when I turned 19. From then on, it’s been real cool. I have been REALLY doing it.

What are the good things, in your mind, about the music scene in this area?

It’s easy to get seen. You can do a show anywhere in Green Bay or the Fox Valley. It might be a little bar, or a small function, but you can be seen. But the buck stops there.

What are some of the things that could be improved?

There is no togetherness; your either hip-hop or you’re not. There is not strong r&b presence. There is no professionalism in this area whatsoever. You will find that maybe 1 out of 10 are professional. And that is where it stops. A lot of artists need to realize that it is about rehearsal. Your performances have got to be A-1. All over the place. Every time you open your mouth.

What would you do to fix the local scene?

I would take one act from ALL the camps and make ONE labels with all the great artists up here. Ya’ll ain’t got to like each other; you just need to work together. This is a business.

What do you do when you know YOU are going to bring it, but the guy in front of you isn’t as good? Doesn’t that hurt you as well?

No. You always perform to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person, one thousand, or two thousand people.

One song that describes your life.

Never Would Have Made it” or “Saw the Best in me”, both by Marvin Sapp. I kinda lived my life backwards. I went from doing tours and opening up shows for national artists to being homeless, going to jail, went to prison, abusive step-father, to graduating from College to furthering my life. No matter what I did, God still saw the best in me.

            One artist alive or dead, that you would want to do a song with?

Donny Hathaway.

What was your first concert?

Troop, as a dancer, as a singer, it was 112.

            What have you seen change in music since you started?

They took the fun out of music at the labels. Period. For example. If you fired the General Manager from the Packers right now, and replaced him with the General Manager from McDonalds, how do you think he will do? He will fail. Same concept. If you take people that have been in the game for years, and been successful, like Russell Simmons, THOSE are the cats that are no longer a part of any labels. It’s all about MONEY now, not artist development. They want to hit with what’s hot right now, instead of trying to develop artists. There is no substance in Music now. No Depth. You put Soulja Boy against Common. That is not even a competition. The game as we know it is over.

            What would you do to change it?

I would fire ALL the head reps right now. Fire them all. (R&B singer) JOE released his last album on his own. Almost like selling it out of his trunk. The album is incredible. But, big time artists are doing it on their own, because the labels don’t care about the MUSIC; they care about the bottom line. The labels have their own agenda. They want to take advantage of you. As soon as you open your mouth, they are looking at a plan to get you. And a lot of the artists today want to do it on their own, but they don’t know how. That is where learning about the business comes in.


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