There’s something about Malone that makes him have that ‘It’ factor. He’s been singing and songwriting for years, including writing for the No. 1 Billboard chart topping dance diva, Cece Peniston, and has spent the past few years sharpening his stunning sound as a background vocalist on the road with Syleena Johnson. In the midst of singing background vocals, the daily grind of hosting his business, Spotlite Karaoke, and deciding what he wanted to do for his music career, Malone released his Vudu Spellz and Status-produced EP Outside The Box to give his fans a taste of his vocal artistry and pop appeal.
Now Malone is ready to show more of the soulful side people know and love, but with a twist of what he calls “Edgy Soul” – “tone with feeling, texture with meaning, and an unconventional approach toward riffs and adlibs.”
His latest CD, NOW, has track titled “NOW,” which is a song about a man going all in without letting another moment slip by when he finds the right woman.
Overcoming adversity including fallen record deals, a taste of the spotlight, ups and downs, in and out of a few groups before music was released has never stopped his pursuit of music. Simply put, “I have no plan B, music is everything in my life,” says Malone. “I can’t live without music. So I have the faith and will to make this music thing work.”
Read what else he has to say.
Do you most often actively seek inspiration or does it find you? Or is there a combination of the two?
I don’t actively seek to be inspired. Inspiration finds me. I’m inspired by positivity, by greatness, great singers, great music and ordinary people with extraordinary stories. Anything can inspire me at any given moment.
What led you to art in general and to your art form(s) in particular?
The love for creativity. Music is my first love and I’ve been wanting to learn every aspect. I have vocals and songwriting down. I seek to learn more about all aspect of my craft with scoring, engineering, and producing.
Have you and your artistry ever been involved in traditional business? If so, how? In addition to mastering their art, what other skill sets do you recommend that artists develop if they want to be successful?
Study your craft down to award shows and what’s on the charts. Understand how to write a song. Melody placement and structure are what help build a song. Study the greats before you like Michael Jackson who had the greatest stage presence and showmanship as an entertainer and Luther Vandross who didn’t have to dance across stage to be considered entertaining. Also learn the business of music. All of that is what helps you master your craft as an entertainer and performer.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
To be honest, I found myself not listening to new music so I won’t be deterred from my sound in anyway. I stick to old formula of R&B versus what’s out today.
Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about art and/or artists? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
There’s a misconception that most R&B artists come from a church background and made secular music their choice. I grew up in church, was never in the choir, never had vocal training. But my gift is God given. I learned how to use it, believe in it and stay true to myself.
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I go by instinct, what feels good and what works for me and my brand. There’s no set formula. I set goals in an unconventional way. I use to be so concerned about what others thought and doing my music based on being told what was the “right” way. I use to think there was a time limit on making my music. None of that is true. I make my own way. And for that reason, I consider myself a trendsetter. My success is measured not off accomplishments, but by doing what I love to do.
Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see/use as examples for you to emulate?
My close peers are Syleena Johnson and CeCe Peniston. Kevin Gray also he does gospel. I emulate Dave Hollister vocally and John Legend as an icon.
Name two of your top role models: one in the art world and one from outside of it.
I don’t have role models. Dr. King was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. A great leader as well, but there were also rumors of him committing adultery. I don’t like the term “role model” because it implies perfection in my opinion and no one is perfect. However, as stated before, I am inspired by others. My grandmother was an inspiration to me. Her whole spirit and being made you feel like the greatest person in the world. I was blessed with the opportunity to perform at an event in Washington DC in January this year and was invited to see Obama’s inaugural speech. It was a huge inspiration to be in the president’s presence and watch history in person. Musically I aspire to be like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway. They were two incredible voices with a message of love and overcoming struggles still being received today.
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
The Secret (book and movie), The Power of Now and recently I’ve been reading the Bible more for a continued positive outlook on life and faith. I’ve also gained an understanding that life is designed to be more easy than difficult. It all depends on your approach.
Why do you consider continued learning important?
I do in my field because knowledge is power. The entertainment business is a shady business, so it’s important to be informed and learn so you can maintain a career of longevity.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
The time is now. Time waits for no one. These affirmations are lyrics to my current single “Now”. The song is about the moment you realize you have the love of your live and can’t be another moment without her. But it means so much more to my life as far as no longer waiting to make my dream come true, no longer wondering or doubting my talent and ability to make music happen for myself. That’s what “Now” means to me. However, the song can mean so many things when you really listen to the lyrics.
What role does art have in the community? What role would you like to see art play in the community?
I think music needs to stay a priority in schools as much as math a science. But I know when funding is cut the art and music budget get cut first. Music saves lives, music gives kids structure, music inspires, provides opportunities and teaches kids to use their imagination and creativity. When I say music I mean art overall.
What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
Oh how I love it. In this day and age as an artist it’s important to stay relevant by any means and technology has provided us with social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc…). Now artists are able to reach their supporters on a much more personal level and keep them captured, especially in an industry where fans are so fickle.
What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
I have the power to edit my own videos for YouTube with Sony Vegas and picture editing apps for Instagram which allows my pictures to tell a story.
Please define your personal brand.
My personal brand or style of music is what I define as “Edgy Soul” which is a soulful tone infused with reggae influenced riffs and gospel coloring. It can further be defined as tone with feeling, texture with meaning, and an unconventional approach toward riffs and ad libs.
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
Las Vegas because I can have a good time there at any time and get work done in the studio recording. The best way to get best of both worlds mixing business with pleasure.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
People’s outlook on life. We are our thoughts and if more people worked toward making themselves better first it would cause a domino effect of greatness.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m currently taking the bull by the horns with everything I want to change about myself. I’m doing it now. Change is constant. I’m always evolving.
What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
To be iconic individuals must have that IT factor. An icon must be relatable, have charisma and untouchable showmanship. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Beyonce are R&B icons. Aaliyah was an icon in making.