Written by FrontPage Detroit
To Raheem DeVaughn music is more than just a career; it's a family thing. Soul singing runs deep in the veins and voice of the three-time Grammy-nominated singer and son of renowned jazz musician Abdul Wadud. With unforgettable lyrics and incredible vocal range, DeVaughn is quickly creating his own style and has become the hottest radio personality in D.C. During a recent visit to Detroit, DeVaughn sat down with FRONTPAGE Detroit about his career, his upcoming album to be released this year and why people should never put him into a box.
FPD: In a few short years you've really made a mark in the R&B music world. What has the journey been like for you?
RD: It's been great, you know. I took a little break to kind of restructure my situation and in doing that I have branched out into the Internet radio world as a personality. I am now hosting my own show, cultivating my own brand and my independent label. So I am becoming an independent artist again.
Tell our readers about your independent label.
My label is the 368 Music Group. I am the only singer on the brand right now. It is a boutique brand for singers and hip-hop situations where I have some artist from the areas where I am from. We are developing their brands as they begin to make a name for themselves locally in my city, D.C. I am the flagship and soulful singing R&B artist.
Your father was a jazz musician. Did he influence your style of music?
Probably later on in my life and career he has been an inspiration. Even in my decision and going through the decisions of where to take the Raheem DeVaughn brand next and what my next move would be, he has definitely been an influence. He is a classically trained cellist and also a schoolteacher. So I definitely like for my music to be orchestrated and heavy on the strings and in some cases very guitar-driven as well.
Who else influences your style?
My music is probably a fusion of a couple of different people, but mostly Marvin Gaye and Prince.
Please talk about your new album that's in the works for you.
Sure. It's called The Place Called LoveLand. Love Connection is the first single and should be on the radio very soon. LoveLand will be my fourth major studio album release and that is coming in this year.
You've become the new voice of radio in D.C. Talk about the success you're experiencing.
We started out as kind of an experiment with branding myself. I had to take a step back and humble myself, you know. As much as I wanted to put music out and immediately have something drop every year, I also wanted to ensure that I had the right platform to move forward and the right team to move forward. And I also wanted to stay connected to my peers and what's going on out in the music world because it's very competitive. I've dropped a few mix tapes, well, actually a lot of mix tapes throughout my career. Still I have been very strategic even with that as well. The Raheem DeVaughn Show is really just a platform for me to show my artists and my peers in another light that I feel like it needs to be played and in the format that I feel it needs to be played. I think too much sometimes we concentrate on the genre of music other than the fact that it's a great song or artist. I feel like we should have those stations where you can hear Raheem followed by T.I. or Keisha Cole followed by Eric Benet. I'm just mixing up the format of radio and the titles and genres of music.
Every week you have some great artists on your show. Do you have a team working with you?
Yes. Bliss.fm is our team and it has been great! I want to give a shout out to my partner Ron Dixon, as well as to all the radio markets in my region. You know, it was a struggle at first to get all of the artists on the show. It was no overnight thing. It has been set up where it is pretty much mandatory that you have to come to The Raheem DeVaughn Show. We just recently had Kem on the show and he did a live set. And that was great. It's just a great tool to expose those to the industry. It's a huge difference between going from a Radio One or Clear Channel format. You can go online and people will tune into your show from Africa or from D.C. People can tune in from wherever. And not only do we broadcast the area live, we also stream it out. So it quickly turned into something more than just a radio show. It's an experience.
How do you think the music and the industry have evolved with the new millennium?
Music is constantly evolving. I think with hip-hop being in the forefront, we cannot negate or ignore it. Hip-hop has become something that no one ever thought it would be. And it is definitely something that has swag or a certain persona and I implement that in my music. Even if it's just rhythmically how I flow with a beat. We are in a very new time with reality shows being intertwined. We are also in a very ratchet state of music in some aspects. But there is still a lot of great music out there as well. So when people go to the club or they're looking for a certain vibe or they want to dance, when you with your lady, you want to invoke a certain spirit. And that's what I try to intertwine in my music. It's been big for me. I feel like I make message music. I am very outspoken with my message. I choose how I want the ladies to be depicted. You know I want them to feel beautiful with records like Woman in the past.
Speaking about the song Woman, did you write that about someone in particular?
Yes. I challenged myself to write that song and to do that record. If it were not for one of my ANR's at the time at JIVE Records, I probably would not have written that record. We were going back and forth at the time. It resonated with so many people both men and women. When I made that record, I wanted to make every woman feel like that song was about her. So Woman was really an anthem. I find that some of the simplest songs are the most potent and that ended up being my first number one Billboard-charting record.
You've done lot of work in the AIDS community. Why is this work so important to you?
It is always important for me to give back in any way that I can.
You were recently part of the NEO SOUL experience at the Detroit Opera House. What's the key to putting soul in your music?
Yes. I was crazy. I did some of my hits and I recently wanted to touch people. It's been a minute since I've been Detroit and I get a lot of love from there. I've done Chene Park multiple times. It was great to be in Detroit and it was great to be with my peers Lalah Hathaway, Leela James and Rahsaan Patterson.
In your own words, how do you want to be perceived by people?
The overall message is first and foremost I am a music lover. I love all types and genres of music. I love all of the culture that comes with music and just enjoying the many hats that I wear when it comes to music. Do not try to put me in a box because I am very versatile and I enjoy everything. I think the thing about coming to The Raheem DeVaughn Show or tuning in is just that you get my whole catalog of music--mix tapes included. You'll find three different generations chimed into my music. It's a blessing to have that. You might have that old school, which is grown and sexy or 40-plus, and then you have the 21-35. So it's all good to be able to have that. I'm very up close and personal with my fans. FPD
Stay connected with Raheem DeVaughn on Twitter and Facebook @Raheem_DeVaughn.