Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1090

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Feature

Walter Christopher: Love is all you need

Walter Christopher @bluesandsoul.com
Walter Christopher @bluesandsoul.com Walter Christopher @bluesandsoul.com Walter Christopher @bluesandsoul.com Walter Christopher @bluesandsoul.com

Affectionately known as âWalt Chrisâ to his devoted female fanbase, Harlem, New York contemporary soul singer/songwriter Walter Christopher this month releases his third album âItâs All About Love Vol. 2â in the UK. The follow-up to 2000âs âItâs All About Loveâ and 2006âs âCanât Waitâ, Christopherâs new set finds him teaming up with producers Rhemario âRio Beatsâ Webber (of US R&B chart-topper Lyfe Jennings fame) and Hubert Eaves IV, to deliver nine love-themed new tracks that combine the old skool sincerity of such soul legends as Al Green and Teddy Pendergrass with the prowess of more contemporary vocalists like Eric Benet and Maxwell.

Indeed, released through New York-based independent AVH Entertainment (run by April Harris, former lead-singer of hitmaking late-Eighties US female dance/pop trio Seduction), the ever-soulful moods on the urban-adult-contemporary-flavoured âItâs All About Love Vol. 2â range from the undulating midtempo groove balladry of âThere You Go Againâ and the romantically sensual, shuffling US single âSo Amazingâ; to the slow, sexy sway of the appropriately-titled âPassionâ and the joyous, infectious punch of the funkier, celebratory closer âOh Myâ.

All of which accurately showcases the vocal and songwriting talents of an artist whose skills have previously been utilised on several US TV and radio commercials, in addition to opening-up live for a diverse range of iconic artists ranging from LL Cool J and En Vogue to Destinyâs Child, Diahann Carroll and Boyz II Men!

â¦Cue for a courteous and warm-mannered Mr. Christopher to hook up for the first time with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis. As - speaking from The Bronx - the clear-speaking native New Yorker discusses his aforementioned new LP; his early days of singing in the church choir; plus his ever-growing career as both a live performer and recording artist.

PETE: Your new album has been described as the having the occasional Eighties influence of acts like Surface and Atlantic Starr. What did you want to achieve musically?

WALTER: âWell, musically I definitely wanted to do something that wasnât TRENDY! Like when you go back to the time of groups like Surface and Atlantic Starr, if you hear that stuff on the radio or on the internet now, it still sounds fresh and it still sounds GOOD!... And so I too want to be that type of ARTIST! In that, no matter whether you play me now, or five years from now, or 10 years from now, you still get that feeling of NEWNESS. Where you can be like âI remember when that record came OUT! It made me feel good then, and it makes me feel good NOW!â!... You know, I definitely wanted my album to be a kinda throwback to the times of artists and producers like Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye or Babyface - an era when you took you time with the music and it was all about the SONG!â

PETE: Meanwhile, lyrically itâs been hailed as âa collection of feel-good, positive love songsââ¦

WALTER: âWell, being as the actual music that was presented to me through the producers was ROMANTIC music, I had no CHOICE! My spirit just wanted to emit sounds of romance and love! And it was the same with the songs I created in conjunction with the producers, or that I wrote the lyrics for first! With the state-of-mind that Iâm in today, I basically just wanted to come across as âthe guy that constantly and consistently talks about loveâ! Because, to coin a phrase, I genuinely do think that what the world needs now is more LOVE! So thatâs what I like to WRITE about!â

PETE: Letâs discuss the two producers you collaborated with on âItâs All About Love Vol. 2â - Rhemario âRio Beatsâ Webber (of contemporary soul star Lyfe Jennings fame) and Hubert Eaves IV

WALTER: âRhemario Webber was actually introduced to me through my label, AVH Entertainment. Theyâd done previous business with him, and thought he and I together would be a good mix, a good vibe. So I went to his studio, started listening to his tracks, started coming up with lyrics on-the-spot⦠And it was just a good FIT! Because heâs an excellent producer, excellent songwriter, and a highly accomplished keyboard-player. Then Hubert Eaves IV is actually the son of Hubert Eaves III, who played in (Eighties New York soul/disco chart-toppers) D-Train, He plays multiple instruments - drums, bass, keyboards - and, as weâd already been in a band together, Iâd go over to his house, listen to songs heâd done... And from there we basically decided âYou know what? We should WRITE together, because weâre definitely on the same PAGE!â!... And thatâs basically how those two collaborations came ABOUT!â

PETE: Though you were born in North Carolina, you were actually raised in Harlem, New York. So can you fill me in on your early background?

WALTER: âLike you said, I was born in North Carolina but, by the time I started attending Grade School, I was already in Harlem! So yeah, I guess all my nurturing and raising was done within the context of good olâ Harlem, USA! And as a child I guess I just did the kinda things children DO. As a young boy I had an interest in basketball; as I got a little older I took up martial arts; when I got to High School I started doing some gymnastics... And, though at school I never really pursued music, it was nevertheless always something that was in the background. Because my mother had a great collection of vinyl records, and so on Saturdays - when sheâd do her cleaning - sheâd play Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & The Pips... And I always loved what I was hearing, not to mention being an avid watcher of âSoul Trainâ! But as I said, though music was always something I could feel calling me, it wasnât until I started singing first lead in the church choir that it REALLY came out and I was like âThis is what I wanna DO! I wanna sing PUBLICLY!â!⦠And so from me singing in church, everything ELSE opened up! I got the opportunity to work with some local bands, we started performing in clubs throughout New York City - and I took to it like a fish in WATER!â

PETE: So can you expand on how all this ultimately led to a full-time career in music?

WALTER: âSome of the musicians playing in the church choir were also playing with the local bands that were doing secular music. So one day they approached me and were like âDo you just sing gospel, or do you do SECULAR music?â... And at that point I basically just wanted to do it ALL! So I was like âYou know what? Just name the time and place, and Iâll BE there!â!⦠And thatâs basically how it started - doing small clubs and private parties; meeting more and more people; networking⦠To where it eventually got to the point where I was able to pursue music full-TIME.â

PETE: Prior to going solo, you were in a New York band called Love Peace & Soul. How do you recall that experience?

WALTER: âOh, that experience was great! Because the venues were very intimate - you know, they werenât stadiums, they were small CLUBS! Which meant you were right there face-to-face with your audience, and so you had to BRING it! And, because sometimes New York audiences can be rough, you had to be constantly on your A-game!... So yeah, working with Love Peace & Soul I learnt how to TURN it on and KEEP it on, how to work the crowd, how to get personal with the audience so that they get into what youâre doing... Because we werenât actually doing any ORIGINAL material - we were mainly a Top 40 band. And so, when youâre doing someone elseâs hits that people are used to hearing sung in a certain way, it means that you have to bring your OWN fire to the table so that they can accept you covering the other personâs SONG!â

PETE: So how did that then lead to you signing as a solo artist to AVH Entertainment?

WALTER: âWell, my first album - âItâs All About Loveâ - I basically did and put out all by myself, along with some of my friends. So, when AVH came to one of my live gigs and approached me to partner-up with them, I was like âI guess this is the natural progression I need to take this thing to the next STEP!â... Because theyâre very knowledgeable as far as the business end of things is concerned, plus they were prepared to give me the freedom I need to write and produce in the way that best expresses the way I FEEL. So I was like âYeah, this is a good MATCH! This is gonna WORK!â⦠You know, we just clicked straightaway - and here we are TODAY!â

PETE: Finally, with you as an artist very much going the independent route, what are your thoughts on the indie-versus-majors debate?

WALTER: âWell, with the majors theyâve already got a good machine in place that they can straightaway put behind you, plus theyâve got like 30/40/60 years experience in the business. Which means theyâve already carved out a niche for themselves, and so having their name behind you will open DOORS for you. But then you also have to remember that, when youâre with a major, youâre there alongside dozens of OTHER artists! So your release-date on your project has to fall in line with whatâs going on with the OTHER artists that theyâve signed. Whereas with the indies I find - certainly in the case of the indie IâM with - thereâs more freedom, plus I donât have to wait until so-and-so releases THEIR CD for ME to fall in line. You know, if my project is ready and all the preparation is in place, then we donât have to wait for ANYONE! Itâs like âLetâs GO!â!â

The album âItâs All About Love Vol. 2â is out now through AVH Entertainment
Words PETE LEWIS

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