Avant has one of the more distinctive voices on the R&B scene today. When you listen to his music, fans know not to expect the deep raspiness of a Lyfe Jennings or the falsetto of an Eric Benet—he is the singer that feels like he’s talking to you rather than singing at you. His songs have always had a magnetic hook that keeps his presence consistent on urban AC radio formats and his live shows are rarely shallow. He is in a place where most artists fight to be in this music business.
Since breaking out on the music scene with his first platinum hit singles, “Separated” and “My First Love”— he has been on a non-stop journey having released seven albums in the last 15 years.
His new album, The VIII (Eight) is sure to capture true fans and R&B music lovers with his magnetic voice and beautifully, interwoven lyrics. Each song on the album is a labor of love and reflects different observations around him.
“I try to keep everything in perspective as things just go on in life. I’m a writer that writes from real life—a narrative. I try to write from what I see,” he said. “I keep it fresh and new for the people.”
With various changes taking place in the music industry, Avant feels he’s in a better place more now than ever. He has survived the roller coaster of changes that R&B music has encountered and credits hard work and persistence as a key formula to success.
What’s the state of R&B right now? “I think it’s in a good state and the reason is when I came into the game, it was at its highest. Money was everywhere—it was beautiful. Rap came in and dominated. But there’s another form of how you do music and younger people need to understand there’s another way to deal with people,” Avant explains.
Over the years, Avant has accumulated an impressive catalog of hits that have included: “Read Your Mind”, “Makin Good Love”, “Don’t Take Your Love Away” and “You and I” featuring Keke Wyatt among other chart toppers. On The VIII, he continues to create his signature formula of success, touching the emotional chord of the listener.
This spring he released the debut single from the album, “Special” which is romantic song that breathes new life into love and commitment.
He adds, “That song explains to people who you have to find someone who makes you feel like you hit the lottery or celebrate having a child to also getting married. When you have a person that makes you feel like this before it even happens—that’s the right one for you.”
With the anticipation of a new al-bum on MOB Entertainment being distributed through Capitol Music Group, he is preparing to hit the road and introduce followers to his new music.
“I’m always trying to have a great release for people who really support R&B. R&B music isn’t dead, we need to tweak it a little bit and make the focus for people who buy music. We chastise our kids all the time about being disrespectful but then we listen to music as parents that is disrespectful. Then when the kids act up in school, now what?” As a father, Avant applies the same philosophy into parenthood when making music. “I explain to my 12-year old son, ‘This is how you treat a woman, this is how you do this thing.’ What the younger generation is missing, they are missing the people who helped us grow as people—Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Babyface,” he said, “They made us who we are in our generation. But now, it’s a lot of ‘b***h’ and ‘hoe’ in this song or that one, and we’re supporting and buying this. I understand the popularity but also we need to define the happy balance of music.”
Upon the CD release of VIII, he’s been between promoting new music and performing in various markets to build awareness. Since most of the independent record stores are far and few, he’s had to take a different direction making his music accessible to fans.
He said, “To have people still look for your music, that’s very important to me. I need people to press the button and download. What’s really happening now, stores like Target and Best Buy are not holding enough product to move anymore. We only have about 2,000 CDs that they are holding for us, in the previous years, we’ve had thousands of units. Now, I need fans to go online and download the record.”
Avant is now in the lane of younger artists looking up to him and emulating his sound and influence. Many of the singers that influenced him during his growth are no longer around but the music he’s created still remains relevant and timeless.
“It’s still good music out here. I hate to hear that R&B music has changed but you still have artists out here that respect it.”