Updated: Mar 1
All photos are courtesy of Anthony Hamilton
Soul Singer & Grammy Award Winning Artist "Anthony Hamilton" is the real deal! With Anthony Hamilton, there's no tricks or gimmicks, just raw vocal talent! Being from the South and having a "down to earth and relatable nature," has made his fans fall in love with not only his unique voice, but his outstanding character. In this interview, I learned a few things about Anthony that I didn't know, here's what I learned.
Hey Anthony, how are you doing?
That's awesome! It's good to speak with you.
Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of interviewing you.
You know Anthony, several years ago, I saw you live at BB kings in Anaheim CA.
You were on the same ticket with Angie Stone.
I thought I was coming to a concert, but you and Angie were having church in there! I'll never forget what you said about the importance of girls dressing in a way that is respectable. You didn't realize it but after that concert, I gained a whole new respect for you. You are not only Anthony the great singer, but you are Anthony the man of wisdom.
Well thank you.
You're welcome. So, tell me, who is Anthony Hamilton? I'm a southern man from Charlotte NC. I grew up in a family of love and hardship. I was raised in the church with a spirit for the people. Basically, I'm a master of love, music and everything positive.
Has it always been your dream to sing professionally? Absolutely, music was in my DNA from conception. I am music. Without music I would be a vegetable.
Do you play any instruments? My main instruments are my voice and my pen. On another note, because I have such a good ear for music, when I’m writing a song, I'm able to find the notes that I want to play one finger at a time. Whether it’s a cello or harp, I hear it and I know it. When it comes to original music, I have the gift to hear and understand it.
Awesome, who are your musical influences? People from the church, the man in the path, and even the winos drinking their wine. You know, in the evening, those guys really could sing. So yeah, I'm just drawn to that.
Growing up, I listened to artists like, James Cleveland, Jeffrey Osborne, Gladys Knight, Jodeci and the Force MD’s. There are so many amazing singers that I love listening to. And now you have, H.E.R, Ledisi, Luke James, Drake, and even Moneybagg Yo. I had to go there! (laughs)
No problem, sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do! (laughs) how was your transitional process of being virtually unknown to becoming a Grammy Award winning celebrity? What was the transitional path that you took? My process was different because it was something that I always knew I had. All I had to do was walk in it. I started off having music classes in the garden, then talent shows in junior high school, moving on to advanced choir in my 11th and Senior year.
From that point, I continued my participation in talent shows, showcasing my voice around the city, and attending barbering school, until I caught the ear of a man by the name of, Mark Spark. Mark has worked with many well establish artists such as, Grand Puba, Salt-N-Pepa, Mary J Blige and others from North Carolina to New York.
After you left barbering school, did you become a Barber? Yes, I did work in a barbershop. So, what happened was, one day, I received a phone call with an invitation for me to go to New York. unfortunately, he never showed up, because something happened. Same scenario different day: while I was cutting hair, I received another phone call from him. He asked me if I wanted to go to New York. The guy who manages my music career now, he was the one who was calling me, but I didn't know him at the time. Well, he came, and we drove to New York. That was in 1991. By 1993 I landed my first recording contract with Uptown MCA and I opened for Jodeci. From there, I went from label to label because I got caught up in stuff that had nothing to do with me.
Oh no! That’s horrible. Yeah, so one day while singing at a Grammy, brunch, Michael Mauldin, Jermaine Dupri's father, was in the audience. I remember singing my song, “Coming From Where I'm From” like it's the last song that I was ever going to sing again. I remember Isaac Hayes introducing me, so I went out there and sang my tail off! Kanye West and Alicia Keys were there. That was the event that got me signed to, “So So Def Records.”
That song would be released on my first album back in 2003, “Comin' from Where I'm From” and I've been Comin' from Where I'm From for about 30 years now.
Have you ever experienced racial challenges in this music industry? It's there, but in terms of music, I think music breaks barriers giving people the opportunity to be more comfortable with the likes of others. From my experience, I think it was more so pushed to the side. I see the indifference when it comes to the financial breakdown of what African American artists get paid as opposed to Caucasian artists. Additionally, in most instances, African American artist receive smaller recording budgets in comparison to Caucasian artist.
So now, you’re a signed artist and traveling the world, did the frequent flying bother you?
When I was a child, I always watched airplanes fly over my house. I was a kid that dreamed. Whenever I saw a train, I wanted to know where it was headed. I found those things fascinating. Although there was a fear, at the same time there was a hunger to get over to the other side. My wanting to get over to the other side superseded my fears.
I love touring. I love everything about it. Whether it's in a car, train, airplane, or just taking a tour bus from city to city, I'm going to take a nap. That's my time to sneak a snooze in. (laughs) But honestly, I absolutely love it!
let's talk a little bit about your music, do you write and produce your own material? Yes, I typically do. About 85 to 90% of it. I co-wrote the last album with Eddie Kane, my producer and A&R. I've written for Tupac, Kodak Black, J Beast and I am a writer on Drake's new album, “Remorse.” I co-wrote a song with, Leela James and Jill Scott. Also, I co-wrote Donell Jones song, “Say What”, KEM's song, “Lie To Me.”
Wow, you're a phenomenal writer! I don't think a lot of people are aware that some of their favorite singers are such phenomenal writers. Some of the songs that we grew up listening to and even those that have time stamped our lives, were written by some of the same artists that we regularly listen on the radio. Most of us are unaware that you guys are the masterminds behind these projects. Absolutely. You know, it used to be more shares for me, but as you get older you realize that you don't have to do it all. There are people available to help ease your workload.
Do you also produce? Yeah, whenever we go into the studio, if the producer doesn't have the music ready, I'll have the melody in my head. I know what I want to hear. I hear the bass line and the piano chords. From there, everything else falls into place.
What inspires you to write? The process for me is being in a peaceful place. That’s when the magic begins with me. I'm also inspired by my life experiences. Life has been the most consistent reason for my inspiration. The chronicles of my life's experiences have dramatically assisted me in the development of my storytelling.
I think it's beautiful how someone can take their life experiences and use them to help others. Many people have healed through music. Music has timestamped their life. Whether it's a wedding a birth a death or even a breakup or a new love. I believe that music is a blessing on earth and that those who create it, assist in shaping the stories of the lives of others.
How do you prepare yourself both mentally and physically for a show? I believe the most important components of maintaining a healthy voice is getting proper amounts of rest, eating healthy and exercising. Also, I'm careful not to burn my body out by doing a full week of shows. I'm not a machine I'm a human being. Three shows a week is my limit. After three shows in one weeks' time, it's time to rest my voice, especially with the intensity of how I perform.
Before going on stage, many artists do vocal warm-ups and sip on their favorite herbal tea. Is that a practice that you adopt as well? I do. I like chamomile tea. I love anything herbal. I also enjoy slippery Elm. Sometimes i'll have ginger with cayenne pepper and a bit of honey with lemon. I usually don't do it unless I need to do it at the time. I think it's good for relaxation and the soothing of the body.
While we're on the subject of performing live, have you ever had any embarrassing moments? Yes, one time when I was singing my song called, “Praying For You”, and I forgot the words to the entire first verse. But I didn't get embarrassed because I'm OK with being “not perfect.” I think what my fans love about me the most is my ability to be humble, honest and transparent with them. Fact, I kept it so real with them that I said, "guys, I can't remember these words!"
What was their response? They laughed, and then I said, “OK, let's start the song over.”
Were you locked in after the great reset? (Laughs) No, I still couldn't remember the first verse, but once the chorus came in, I was good from there. I will say this, " I wore their tails out with that song!"
(Laughs) I know you did Anthony! your voice is phenomenal, and your performance is electrifying! As a male balladeer that expresses the love and vulnerability of a man towards a woman, what do other men feel about that? I think that other men trust me to be a voice for them. They trust me to speak about women in a way that's positive, loving and appreciative.
That’s great and what about the women, how do they feel? I think the women trust that I will sing about the honest and open truth. I believe they both appreciate who I am as a musician and as a singer. Many people have come to me and told me that my music has saved their life, turned their marriages around and restored their relationships. Overall, I get positive feedback saying that my music has made their relationships better.
That's wonderful! To me, music is about the artist pouring out from what's inside. Because we’re all humans experiencing human feelings and emotions, whenever an artist can share those feelings vocally, through the gift of song, I think it's just amazing! In your opinion, what is the key to longevity in this business? Being consistent. Consistency and quality are so important. I think if you're a consistent person coupled with a quality product, your fans will lock in with you. The supply and demand are absolutely a parallel to all that. It's my job to deliver it to the people what they want.
Awesome, what's your favorite song that you've ever written? “Coming From Where I'm From” because that song is my once upon a time story. The song talks about the first page of my book. So much of my life is summed up in this one song. It's powerful.
That was a great album, and I loved that song as well Charlene is another powerful song. That song is on the same album, correct?
Speaking of Charlene, who is she? Charlene is about a relationship between a man, a woman and music. Charlene was a pivotal part of me taking a step to pursue my music in a deeper and more meaningful way.
After losing that relationship and love, I realized that I wasn't ready to give back what she needed. Although it hurt me, it propelled me to be better. That experience also helped me to be honest while telling my stories.
You won a Grammy? Yes, I want a Grammy and I've been nominated 18 times.
That’s awesome! What an accomplishment!
You’re welcome. So, tell me, how does an artist who has a relationship with Christ stay balance in this industry? My God and my faith are always welcomed. I never shy away from that regardless of what people might think about my beliefs. I think it gives me balance, self-respect, respect for other and respect for life. It also allows me to have a shield to walk under and that shield protects me from things that seek to destroy me. My faith plays a major role in my lyrical content, what I speak about and what I want. It keeps me from compromising because I know I'm OK. It's great!
You have an amazing new single out called “Love Is The New Black” correct?
Your new music has a Curtis Mayfield vibe. That's who you remind me of. Your music has a throwback effect. Just listening to your voice takes me back to the 70s where the music made you feel something that's lacking in much of today's music. Can you tell me about it? Love is the priority in this song. That's what I wanted people to know. As African Americans, sometimes we are presented in a negative light. The goal of this recording is to show that we can also have a healthy, sexy, and beautiful love between one another. All those beautiful aspects of love can coexist within our community.
This beautiful love exists in our homes, our relationships, and in our reactions towards one another. We have positive and fruitful interactions with each other in our parenting, our marriages, and in a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. In this song, I wanted people to know that. We're not animals, we’re sexy beings with class and style. I believe we should be seen in this way. We should be seen through the eyes of love.
What is love from your point of view? I believe that love is a beautiful spoken and unspoken language. It's the thing that allows a person to feel appreciated and protected, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
Love gives a person the feeling of being free. I think love is sexy and beautiful. Love is the warm kisses, the small gestures and the big things that you do. Love demonstrates care and concern for someone other than yourself.
That’s beautiful Anthony, what's your dream? I'm living most of it. I plan to continue to build upon it. I want to create movies, more jobs for my family and for those who I love. I want to build a legacy that's rooted in love and gratitude, and I want to sing some of the world's best music.
I want to father my kids with excellence while at the same time learning from my mistakes. My dreams also include riding off into the sunset wearing the biggest hat, driving an old school car smelling like the finest cigar with a splash of bourbon. (laughs)
Do you do you own an old school Cadillac? No, but I have a 1971 Chevrolet station wagon. It's a Kingswood.
There it is! It's beautiful! You know, I really think that's the era that I was supposed to be living in.
I know, I love it too! I'm a funk baby. I wear bell bottoms every single day! I'm so stuck in that era, and I don't want to get out of it! I'll be a 70s girl until the day I die! (laughs)
I love it.
The outfit you're wearing on the Album cover of, Love Is The New Black is Superfly! The look your stylist gave you reminds me of something from one of the black exploitation films. Who styled you? Well thank you. The stylist is, Maggie Francois, Kenny Kass and me. We collaborate quite well. The hats that I wear are from my very own hat collection called, House of fedora, and Haran hats.
That's awesome I'll have to check that out. I love hats. I want the one you had on that album! (laughs)
We're actually in the process of creating more.
I'm going to buy myself a hat! What else do you sell?
Wait grits? Are you serious! Yep! And let me tell you Gina, I have the best grits around! They contain no preservatives, and they are gluten free. I have the best grits!
You can put me down for some of those too! I love grits! Yeah! These are the best grits you'll ever taste! Celebrities are ordering them. Even Terrell Williams orders my grits. Quaker has nothing up against these grits! The grits can be ordered through Hamilton Corner store on Instagram.
OK you can sing your behind off, you make 1970s hats, and you have the best grits in the world, you're amazing!
You’re welcome. How has the music industry changed over the years? In order to be successful in today's music market you have to have the ability to see ahead, and to identify with the culture and how it changes. You have to be aware and ready for change. Social media has made it possible to touch the world in a matter of seconds. With this new technology, it has created the desire for fame and notoriety. Because there's so much noise out there, it can sometimes suffocate the sound of beautiful music.
I find that technology is so sophisticated, the age of my fan base sometimes finds it hard to maneuver in this new digital world. Because of this, you don't sell as many albums as you would have before the digital era. Many people that are older have a hard time maneuvering around the Internet whereas the younger generation are born into it.
Basically, if you're gearing your music towards the younger generation, you could win because young people are constantly on their cell phones and computers navigating around social media all day. I think that this new digital era has created a lot of noise and when there's a lot of noise you have to sing louder, be intentional and let people know that you exist in a world of so much.
Yes, definitely. In what ways did the pandemic affect you in a positive way? It allowed me to see that less is more. it gave me the opportunity to be at home, get rest, love on myself and spend quality time with my children. I think that's healthier than running around chasing success. When the world slowed down, we were able to recognize what was most important and to be more grateful. I learned that being in good health is Extremely important. It teaches you to check on those you love, yourself and everyone in around you to make sure that they're mentally and spiritually sound. It's OK to take time for yourself.
Any new albums or tours coming up? First and foremost, I want to say that Hamilton Corner Store Grits are the best in the world! The tour for Maxwell, Joe and myself is starting in March.
Wow all three of you guys on one ticket? That's awesome!
Yes, it's called the night tour.
Are you guys performing any duets together? No, unfortunately we won't be performing any songs together but I'm sure by the end of that tour we'll be able to create whatever the people need.
Yes, I'm sure all your fans would love to hear at least one song from the three of you.
Any last powerful words of wisdom to share? Wake up each day, love on purpose and do it with a smile. Don't wake up with yesterday's mess. Remember that every day you wake up, you have a brand-new canvas. So, wake up each day on purpose with the will to love.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you and I pray that God will continue to bless your life, your career, your family. I pray that God will be done in your life.
Thank you and same to you.