It all happened almost identically as I had dreamed it would. From the energy, the music, the people, the experience…it was perfect. I could not have done it without an amazing team of people that believe in me and my vision, and I’m honored to have them. Here’s how it all went down:
The day began with the challenge of “Shutting Up.” Now that I have stepped into the role of vocal performer, I’ve had to minimize my talking in order to rest my voice (under orders from my awesome vocal coach- Evie Williams – www.eviesvocal.com). ANYBODY that knows me can imagine how impossible this sounds. For so long, I’ve played so many roles and tried to take on so many responsibilities that this seemed even impossible to me. So the I had to have a team I could trust and delegate the majority of my tasks to them. I must say that they all had my back in helping me relax, kick back, and SHUT UP. So i must thank Regina Clarke of Plan 4 Perfection and her crew, Patricia Pickett of Off Da Chain Management, and my brother Donta Garrett for taking a HUGE load off of me. Because of your service, I was able to prepare for to give my very best. And I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from everyone about the courtesy and care that was given to each and every guest. Customer Service is my #1 value and they know I don’t play when it comes to how you treat our supporters.
Ok, So I flew in early that morning from Charlotte, NC and went straight to hang out with the Mrs and baby girl. Of course they both challenged the “Shut Up” rule, but there was no I could resist chatting it up with the little one. After relaxing for a little while with the family, I began gathering my things for the show. While I was away, my super-awesome stylist, Ryan Christopher (www.ryanchristopherstylist.com), had prepared an outfit for me. Unfortunately, I wasnt at home to try on the very stylish skinny jeans he picked up. The problem with skinny jeans for a man with my frame is that they fit my waist but I can’t quite pull em past my thighs and butt. So that prompted an emergency shopping excursion to replace the skinnies. We actually found a nice pair of jeans and totally changed the look altogether. I must say that RC has the most amazing eye for color. Its so funny to watch his process. Ironically, its almost identical to how I write songs. its an evolutionary process that’s hard to explain, but you just know it when you see it or hear it. I guess its called ART. Anyhow, after getting the new outfit, I ran by The Pantry by Stone Hollow Farmstead to grab my juice (www.stonehollowfarmstead.com/pantry.php).
I was introduced to The Pantry by one of my Extreme Fit bootcamp instructors, Ashley Wynne Dawson (www.extremefit.com). The Pantry has the most amazing farm grown foods and a juice cleanse program. My buddy, Lee Shipp, was so kind to prepare some energy boosting juice for me on an off-day. Thanks Lee. So after grabbing my clothes and my juice, I ran back to the house to finish packing to leave for soundcheck at The Workplay Theater (www.workplay.com).
Me and the band, which I’ve dubbed “The Exposed Bros,” all arrived around the same time. They hate it by the way, but its catchy. LOL. The band, which included John Jackson (my Musical Director) on keys/key bass, Cameron Sankey on keys, Eric Dubose on lead guitar, David Smith on drums, and Darron and Ja’Ron Wright on background vocals. The band did a marvelous job on executing the show that we’d extensively rehearsed. My vision was to not just sing songs, but put on a production. I visualized the video element, drama, mood changes, story lines, and they brilliantly provided the canvas to paint the picture that was in my mind. I can’t say enough about the time and dedication given by my MD, John Jackson, who arranged the music for the show. And I cannot fail to mention my pro-tools engineer, Daryl Adams, who allowed me to get on his last nerve with the same calm smile every time.
After soundcheck, we all retired to the back to dress and prepare for the show. My Rapping-Preaching Barber, LP (twitter.com/yoboylpz) showed up touch up the cut. The boy definitely knows how to get that edge-up “poppin” as he so confidently says. While I’m getting my touch-up, my super funny host, Eunice Elliott, walks in and starts slipping in her totally natural and strategically aimed wise-cracks (www.euniceworld.com). After hanging out backstage for a while, we said our pre-show prayer, and prepared to kick off the show.
To start the show, Eunice called up some artists, band members, and friends to say a few words about me. First, Bernard Buggs, said a few words about our working experience and friendship. Then Nadia Tellis came up and told everyone how much she hated me for firing her from the Ruben Studdard gig back in 2004. She followed that by telling how we eventually became good friends and worked together as well. Dj Chris Coleman of 98.7 KISS FM was called to the stage and spoke very highly of my music by announcing the “Alvin Meter”. Basically explaining to Birmingham-based artists that our music has to be sonically compatible to all other music played on their station, and he kindly congratulated me for doing just that. One of my co-producers, Terrell Sass, came up to talk about how we met and began working together. After that, she called up Logan, who absolutely needs a reality TV show with all that drama. Besides being the most energetic entertainer I know, he is on of the most hilarious people you’ll ever meet. SO you know he had a mouthful to say. Then she called up the members of Just A Few Cats, each of whom could’ve shut the party down with all the stories.but they were kind to me in their words. Finally, she invited Ruben Studdard to the stage to say a few words. Of course, he made fun of me being “skinny” now, but he also said some great things about our friendship and working relationship. After that, it was time to rock.
John and The Exposed Bros had prepared a very dynamic intro, and my boy, Ivan HD Sims added a nice video to accentuate to dramatize it even more (www.ivansims.com). By the way, Ivan was also capturing these priceless memories on video with his team. After the amazing intro, I entered the stage to a thundering applause. We rocked out to “Lawd Hammer See”, and went into the highly energetic, “Butterscotch Pumps.” From there, we proceeded to take the crowd on an ride full of twists and turns. After serenading the Mrs with “Be My Exclusive,” we grooved to “Puppet” which led us into my single, ‘Never Gonna Find.” This is when we shifted the mood from high energy towards a more sensual and intimate vibe. I transitioned the show with “Let it build” and gave the mic to the background singers while I retired to the back for a wardrobe change. I returned to the stage with a modified version of “Groove With You” by the Isley Brothers. Then I “put the kids to bed” with my very sensual song, “To Be You With Me.” That one really warmed the room up a few degrees. From there, we performed a piece of Blackstreet’s “Before I Let You Go,” which led into my song, “Make Love.” Both songs support my assertion that men want to get that love at least one more time before the relationship ends or falls apart. I closed that thought with a preacher-styled rendition of Al Green’s “For The Good Times.” I was moved to tears during this song because it hit me that I had made it to the end of my show and I was in the middle of my dream. After introducing the band, I performed my finale and theme song, “Never Gonna Change,” promising everyone that I will never go “Hollywood” on them. I brought Mista Mal to the stage to rock his verse and we jammed out from there.
After the final note, I rushed to the lobby to greet the attendees< sign autographs, and take pictures. Thanks to D Jerome Smedley for capturing the many timeless images for me (www.truknightvision.com). It was an honor to sign every cd that was brought to the table. I feel that its a privilege to have soomeone ask for your autograph. After signing cds and a few t-shirts, I hung out with the few remaining team members and headed to the house. I cant say that I was tired at the end of the night, because i wasn’t. Maybe it was the adrenaline rush of all that was happening, or maybe it was the result of thorough preparation and a dedicated team that allowed me to preserve the energy to deliver a show that won’t soon be forgotten.
I am ready to take this thing the full distance. Thanks to each and every one of you that took a chance to come out and be a part of such an important day for me. I know you had NO CLUE what to expect, so I appreciate the vote of confidence. Oh well, there you go. Until next time- EXPOSE YOURSELF!