By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. (Associated Press)
When Fred Williams isn’t scouting or drawing up offensive plays for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, he’s normally sitting at his laptop laying down music tracks.
Inspired by former NBA player and musician Wayman Tisdale, Williams – whose stage name is Freddy Bass – finds enjoyment away from the basketball court during offseason infusing contemporary jazz with hip-hop and R&B.
“He went from giving up pro basketball to a music career,” Williams said of Tisdale, who played 13 years in the NBA and released nine albums before he died in 2009. “I used to go and watch him in concert and saw him in the studio. That brought a spark in me.”
Now, the 53-year-old assistant coach released his album – “Game Time” – on March 4. The album features Williams playing the electric guitar and keyboard, the alto saxophone and clarinet.
Williams has already recorded more than 200 tracks, but he dwindled the number of songs to 11 for his upcoming album, which took him just over a year to produce.
“I just try to mix it all up like a bowl of soup,” said the coach, who inherited the nickname Freddy Bass when his friends noticed how often he used bass to mesh with the melody of his songs.
“The bass is like the heart of the song. It’s like a heartbeat,” he said. “If you have a good bass line in your system, you can make any song work. It helps to listen to all types of music too.”
Shellie “Bo” Talley of Blaq Pearl Entertainment believes Williams can make music a bona fide career after coaching. She became enticed by the coach’s musical creativity after listening to his CD while driving with her kids in the car.
“They were just as really excited about as I was,” said Talley, who decided to manage Williams. “I’m thinking if he can reach teenagers, then we’ve got something here. When you have something that kids and adults can relate to, then you have something special.”
Talley expects Williams to be signed to major label soon, because he’s able mesh the array of music genres into one song.
“I can see his music being played throughout the restaurants and nightclubs,” she said. “I think he’ll get picked up. He can write and produce his own stuff, which is an asset today in music.”
Williams incorporates much of his music from listening to a variety of artists ranging from singer Monica to jazz artist John Coltrane to rapper T.I.
It took him about 15 years to hone his instrumental skills. But he says his most valuable trait is his ability to write and create his own music using Pro Tools, digital audio workstation software that’s used by most popular producers like Dr. Dre.
“Each and every single day I’m getting better and proving myself,” he said. “Some people like to read book or play golf, but my pleasure is music.”
Even though Williams has a strong passion for music, his top priority remains as a basketball coach. He has been with the Dream since 2008 after he spent 10 years coaching at the University of Southern California and served as an advance scout for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz.
“I really enjoy coaching and making people and teams better,” he said. “Coaching is also a passion for me too. But music could come a future profession if everything goes to plan.”