Aaron Akins, the Nat King Cole Sound-Alike and Actor is Undoubtedly One of a kind!
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where are you from, and how did you get started in music? AllAboutJazz has described my music as "something out of the ordinary, a certain reminiscence of the voice of Nat King Cole wrapped in the arms of a sophisticated urban beat and not something heard every day." I am originally from Chicago and have loved music for as long as I can remember.
I am someone who chooses a lot of laughter, joy, and happiness, and as a result, I experience a lot of laughter, fun, & happiness! I discovered I could sing when I was nine, but I did not form my first band until I was in college alongside Darryl Jones, who now plays bass for the Rolling Stones.
What is your vocal range? Tenor
When did your professional career begin, and how did it happen? My career started when I was studying music business at Southern Illinois University, and as I said, I started a band with Darryl Jones, and we started gigging around town. So I was pretty much a professional from the very start.
As an independent label, are there any challenges you face? I've always had the challenge of having enough financing to market / promote my music and pay staff. It's challenging to do everything myself.
In your opinion, what does it take to "make it" in this business? In my opinion, the main thing you have to possess is a passion for your specific craft. If you are a singer, you have to have the drive as a singer. If you are a songwriter, you have to have passion as a songwriter. If you are a composer, you have to have enthusiasm as a composer. If you are a producer, you have to have passion as a producer. Because if you don't have motivation, you will quit because it's too hard.
In your opinion, what's the best and worst part of being an independent artist? The best part of being an independent artist is you get to control your narrative. You get to release the material you want to remove and do the type of album you want. You get to transmit your vision of how you see yourself as an artist, which is all an artist wants to do in the first place to let the world see him as he sees himself.
Have you ever released a song that you thought would be a significant success but didn't do as well as you expected? Tell me about an experience you had like that? Haha, I laugh because, for some strange reason, I like this question. I released a song called "God Made Women Beautiful," I just knew it would blow up, and I still think it will. But one of the most bizarre things I've discovered is a lot of women don't think they're beautiful. In my experience, a lot of women question their beauty. They don't believe it. Maybe deep inside, they don't feel that way. But I think all women couldn't be anything but beautiful because I believe all women are a little piece of God, and I don't think God could make something that is not beautiful. I believe beauty is about the character, so if a woman feels beautiful, she is gorgeous.
Do you have a daytime job, or is music your full-time job? Music and entertainment are my full-time job. I am a singer, songwriter, composer, and actor, so it's all entertainment.
How important is it for your friends and family to support your music by purchasing and downloading your single? How crucial is their support for the success of your career? It works with downloading nowadays because you have to have an astronomical number of streams to amount to any substantial financial benefit. So, when my friends and family download my music, it's just sentimental value and gratitude for family.
How do you feel about the concept of likes and dislikes on an artist's social media music-related post? Is that an accurate assessment of the artist's talent, worth, or ability? I don't think likes are an accurate assessment of your talent, worth, or ability because you can have a fanbase that is not very active on social media.
What have people who have heard your music say about your vocal style that sets you apart from other vocalists? I have been told that my style is a mixture of Al Jarreau, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole, so I admire all those artists. But when I'm likened to Nat King Cole, I'm pretty impressed and a little in awe.
If you can speak to your fans from your heart and tell them one crucial thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be? I would say from my heart to make sure you really want this as a career and you are passionate about it because it's an all-consuming undertaking. It's going to take every amount of strength you can find in your subconscious mind.
What advice would you give to new artists entering the changing industry? I would say to a newly independent artist, "Don't just choose a career in music because it sounds fun or seems like the popular thing to do. Music is all about listening, meaning the definition of music is something that is pleasing to the ear. Even if the listener doesn't understand notes, sharps, flats, keys, tempos, or anything like that, they know if they like what they are hearing. You can't fool people with gimmicks."
If you can speak to DJs from your heart and tell them one important thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be? I would like to tell them that an independent artist is an independent artist because he cares about what he is doing and gives a real listen to independent artists. Of course, all artists were independent until they hit their stride and became popular enough to go mainstream. So, an artist is still an artist, whether independent or mainstream.
How would you describe your music to those who have never heard it before? Fortunately, I have been blessed to record, write, and compose in different genres. So, depending on the setting or situation I am in, my music could fit into several genres. But if I had to give a description, I would say a contemporary blend of urban, R&B, and jazz.
Do you write and produce your own music? Yes, but I will occasionally use other producers depending on the project.
What does it really feel like to be an Independent Artist? Share your heart with our readers? It feels great, like a sense of controlling your own destiny. What greater feeling to have than that!
How do you prepare yourself mentally for public opinion (either positive or
negative) when you're preparing for a new song release? If you believe in yourself and know you have presented the highest quality you are capable of, you have nothing to worry about because you did your best, and your best will find its audience, so you are already mentally prepared.
Have you ever felt so discouraged in this business, for whatever reason, that you just wanted to throw in the towel? No, fortunately, I have not had that experience.
How many singles/albums do you have out presently, and what is your favorite album/song to date? I have many singles out there. One of my favorite singles, "I Just Wanna Luv U," is in the feature film "Black Butterfly" starring Antonio Banderas; catch it on Amazon Prime Video. I also really love my single "God Made Women Beautiful."
Tell me about your latest album/ song, and what was your inspiration behind it? Is it out now, and where can people buy it? My latest single was released by Sony Orchard. Music under Legends Recordings Group. The song is called "I Haven't Tried You." by Aaron Akins & Marc Live. I wanted to do something completely different, so I did a classic jazz melody and vocal on a hip-hop track, and it worked! It hit on Digital Radio Tracker's (DRT) Global Top 150 Independent, Top 50 R&B / Hip-Hop, and Top 200 charts for two months in 2021! It went to a high number of 28 on DRT's Global Top 150 Independent chart.
Thank you Arron for this interview. God bless you!
All photos are courtesy of Aaron Akins
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