Q: How did you get into music?
A: I am originally from North Florida. Don't think palm trees. (It was) very rural (and) also included very country, Southern churches. It seems to be the traditional route for guys who end up doing R&B (and) soul. That was no different for me. I started out just playing on the piano when I wasn't supposed to be. Being in the youth choir (and) the gospel experience really is what turned me onto music. I loved the stories, the emotion and especially the performances.
Q: What artists influenced you?
A: I was always a fan of The Commodores and Lionel (Richie). A lot of those songs— even though it's secular versus gospel — sort of cross over. I listened to groups like The O'Jays and Teddy Pendergrass. Most of the time (the songs involve) relationships and love and life's challenges. I really started to like R&B because of that.
Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue music?
A: It sort of has always been something I wanted to do. Life didn't quite allow me to at the time. I was always in some singing group (in high school). In college is when I started to take it seriously. I went to Florida A&M (University) for three years. I had a strange calling that I wanted to do something else. I just was too comfortable. I surprised everybody and joined the Army. I kind of put any entertainment ideas to the background. I qualified to be a linguist and an (intelligence) analyst.
A: Did you put your music on hold?
Q: In the late '90s. Hip-hop and hip-hop-influenced R&B were really big. The music that I was doing kind of was influenced by that. I started to do this thing that was neo-soul ... like Erykah Badu and Musiq Soulchild. I would do that in my barracks room. I never really abandoned my pursuit. (Music) has always been a thread going through (my life) even with the Army ... and then going into the intel analyst consulting that I do now. That's what paid the bills for quite a while. In 2012 ... me and my partner sold the consulting firm (we owned). That gave me the time to start Shawstyle (Productions) and get into the true business of music. I'm trying to build the label. In the back of my mind I'm thinking, "How do I make this a lifelong business adventure?"
Q: How did you meet singer Freddie Jackson?
A: We did a Mother's Day weekend show in Quincy, Florida. Freddie was actually a headliner on that show, too. It went great. There has been so much I've been able to glean from him. (He shows me) the professionalism, commitment and the real dedication it takes to last as long as he has. It is truly a passion business. I want to get into (York) with Freddie to show him what's going on (and) what we're trying to do.
Q: The Aug. 2 is a benefit show, right?
A: (Jackson and I) were kicking around ideas about what we wanted to do. Me and my wife have a son who's 3. He goes to the (York Jewish Community Center) for the early years school. He has a classmate who was otherwise healthy at the beginning of the year and all of a sudden was diagnosed with leukemia. It rocked our world. I started trying to figure out how I could help. I said, "you know, I'm going to find an organization that does what I think they need." The H.O.P.E. for Cancer Patients and Families foundation (was) perfect. The services they provide are amazing and essential. Everything they do for the families is completely free. I plan on doing things at least annually for H.O.P.E.
Q: Is this your first show in York?
A: Yes, it is. I have done shows at (casinos) and the Hard Rock (Cafe) in Philadelphia. I haven't done anything in York. I'm really excited about being here, and I can't wait to expand. I really think the arts and culture in York is untapped. I just walk around and meet people with amazing talent. I want some sort of standing venue or some sort of event (for local entertainers). I love this place. I moved up in 2006 ... and it's truly my home now.
Q: Do you know the guys in Ju-Taun?
A: The group that's is also on the ticket — Ju-Taun — are a Camden-based group. I met those guys in early 2012, and we immediately became a family. (Singer) Jamie Evans ... has been co-producing on my album that's coming out. These guys grew up in the Philadelphia sound and Philadelphia International Records era. Even though they're young guys, their sound reflects a wisdom and understanding with music that is well beyond their years.
Contact Erin McCracken at 717-771-2051.