Grammy Nominated Will Downing Brings
Sexy Maleness to ‘Black Pearls'
"I kept them in the same key," said Grammy nominated Will Downing about his newest album release,
"Black Pearl," full of female cover songs. The Shanachie Entertainment project has an album cover with Downing sitting
on a speaker, reminding me of my younger years when the songs he covers were always on my lips, accompanied by me on my red
lead guitar, my red microphone and black speaker - just like on his album cover. Will Downing will take you back too, to an
era where the majority of the songs had deep meaningful content. The first single off his "Black Pearl" project
is a prime example with Will covering Cherrelle's hit "Everything I Miss At Home" - about love found after love
is lost. "These songs were sung from a female perspective...they sing up and I sing down...(but) it was comfortable for
Love is love so Downing's version of the songs still shows a picture of love
in its many forms. He makes you see the meaning behind the songs from a male perspective. Will brings the "male sexy"
to "Black Pearl" especially on Rufus and Chaka Khan's hit "Ever Lasting Love" one of my favorites on the
project. On this selection not only did Will bring his signature sexy style to it but the harmony is so tight it's almost
perfect. Could that be a result of his wife Audrey Wheeler Downing providing background vocals?
The "Black Pearl" project offers ten songs that you can enjoy as you relax. Speaking of relaxing I asked Downing
how his radio show "The Wind Down" was going. The show's play-list specializes in songs that relax the listeners.
"We are in 20 markets," He said.
The "Black Pearl" album is
produced by Will and features the assistance of Kirk Whalum on flute, Dwayne "Smitty" Smith on bass, Mike Logan
and Chris "Big Dog" Davis on keyboards - just to name a few.
songs are originally done by Black women. They are diamonds and pearls," Will said when I asked why he named his project
"Black Pearls". "A friend and I was talking about Phyllis Hyman, I use to open up for her and he use to work
for her. We said ‘what's your favorite song?' We both liked the same song."
That conversation sparked the idea in Will to do an album of cover songs of black female artists. Downing has been providing
us with his soothing voice for 28 years via 19 albums. His last Shanachie Entertainment
album release was titled "Chocolate Drops" in 2015 where he was joined by "Chris
"Big Dog" Davis. The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity member was diagnosed with Muscular
Dystrophy and he credits and thanks the MDA for helping him deal with his condition by performing
at their fundraisers.
My favorite songs on the "Black Pearls" project
includes the Angela Winbush hit "Your Smile" because he clearly brings the male
touch to it with a coolness only Will Downing possess; the Brenda Russell (Oleta Adams)
hit "Get Here" because I love the lead guitar support by Randy Bowland that gives
it a Latin feel that Downing has no problem adjusting to; the Randy Crawford hit "Street Life" featuring
Najee on sax because I love how it starts slow and transitions into a finger snapping and toe
tapping selection with an ending that allows the musician's a solo (horns, keys) which
they totally owned; the Jones Girls' "Nights Over Egypt" featuring Kirk Whalum
on flute who brings that Egyptian sound and flavor with his skills all the way to the end helping to make this
selection supreme; Deniece Williams' "Black Butterfly" because Will takes an anthem for
Black people and made it a love song for all people, and "Don't Let It Go to Your
Head," a Jean Carne hit, because Will Downing makes it cool and jazzy.
Will's "Black Pearl" is truly an historical piece that will become a keep-sake
for his fans and the fans of all the female legendary vocalists he honored. To learn more about "Black
Pearls" or Will log onto www.Shanachie.com or www.WillDowning.com.
COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million
with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and
Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large)
for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: Sat October 22, 2016 the "Uplifting Minds II" Free Entertainment Conference arrives at
the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, CA. www.UpliftingMinds2.com.)