Anthony Hamilton – This Man’s Soul

Photos by Silvio Suarez

Queen City native Anthony Hamilton is one Charlottean that requires no introduction in any forum. The multi-talented, Grammy Award winning artist who’s shown the world what it means to have soul with every song sung, blessed Urban Tymes with a moment of his one rainy Sunday afternoon. An organic, down-to-earth brother- Anthony Hamilton is steeped in deep, soulful goodness and his passion for music is evident, raw and as real as it gets. One could easily become entranced in his aura of positivity and infectious laugh. His powerful voice is a strong, gritty contrast to his soft spoken demeanor. As we readied for his photo shoot; Anthony brightened everyone’s day with his signature southern charm and shared with us his insight on love, life and a closer look into his latest album “What I’m Feelin”.

Urban Tymes: You’ve worked seamlessly in nearly every music genre out there: R&B, Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz, and so on – not sure if anything is left, but is there one genre you haven’t touched that you’d like to venture into?

Anthony Hamilton: I’ve done a Reggae song that was pretty big in London called “Everybody”, but I’d love to do more Reggae. It’s dear to my heart…more Country and Blues as well.

UT: You are the embodiment of what R&B Soul sounds like- but you are clearly a fan of hip hop (and you’ve collaborated in this genre more than any other) – what is that connecting factor for you?

AH: Hip Hop has an urgency and a temperament that suits me, that explains who I am. Its street, southern, church, blues, country and rock, I’m all of that and Hip Hop has all of those elements with a beat…something like a “struttin brother” and I connect with it and it’s an extension of my expression. Hip Hop has been sonically one of the best things I’ve heard in my life, it’s so creative.

UT: You have managed to not alter or change your sound toward fads music, but remain a mainstay in the industry- is that by your own design?

AH: I think being raw, being organic is not really compromising to my decision to write it how I feel it. I think it sets well with peoples spirit and I think when you connect with something- you love it, you’ll rock with it and I think being consistent with that. It’s raw. Its truth….amen!

**y’all, only Anthony Hamilton can make the word Amen sound sexy! How does someone even do that! ** Ok-carry on.

UT: Your music invokes emotion, it literally makes me want to be honest and tell whomever exactly what I’m feeling- do you feel your emotions are transferred through your music to your fans/listeners?

AH: Yes, a lot of it, and there’s a part of me that’s held onto as well. That Aquarius part of me- the introverted part of me that is social, but loves to be alone. When I’m alone and it quiet…It’s beautiful.

UT: You mentioned that aspiring artists get out what they put into their careers, would you say the same for relationships?

AH: Yes, you get what you put in…if its balanced- sometimes one can put in too much (more than the other) and it’s not reciprocated and it should be balanced. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, just that they may not be ready to receive what you have to give at that time. And I think it’s important to be traveling at the same speed or close to it. In a perfect world, you get exactly back what you’ve put in.

UT: You shared “What I’m Feelin” is your truth in regards to some the things you’ve gone through since your “Back to Love” album, do you feel fans have embraced and accepted this truth?

AH: Yea, my fans been rocking with me for a long time, pretty solid. You still have some who doubt- but the majority of them, I have some loyal fans that love on me…and I love on them back.

UT: Your bio mentions a quote from you about people getting into relationships and sabotaging them because of a fear of creating the unknown, the beautiful, the peace and a place where you can let go, being able to totally let go is something I look forward to doing.” When you recorded majority of “What I’m Feelin’ – working again with Engineer Bruce Irvine and Mark Batson, who produced some of your biggest hits including “Charlene”; Did you feel as if you were returning to a familiar place to “heal/purge” and get back to a place that was comfortable to you?

AH: There’s a soul connection there. A musical connection there and we all three get it. And when I’m not on, they know and vice versa. We can take a mistake and turn into music and there’s not a waste there. We create a magic because we’re not afraid to be in that moment and embrace it.

UT: NPR stated after your tiny desk concert that: Watching you perform; you get the hunch that it’s harder for you to keep the soul inside than it is to actually unleash it. Do you ever feel there is/was a time, where you held back on “your sound”?

AH: oh yea, – usually on albums- when you’re live you get to pour it all out there. There are sometimes, when I feel like I’m sounding too grown. Where in such a youthful age of sound with things being very melodic in music now and I come through with some macho, grand daddy sound- it could be too much for some.

UT: Besides growing up singing in the church and the voice that is obviously homegrown in the church, you come off very spiritual and have collaborated with John P. Kee and J. Moss. How do you feel about hip hop artists like Lecrae trying to break that same mold in their genre?

AH: I think it’s necessary and they should break it – I think all molds should be broken and reinvented, in some way. I love what Lecrae has done he’s one of my gospel/inspirational hip hop artists, and Canton Jones.

UT: The Hamiltones have somewhat addressed some political issues and made light of them but was able to shed light on current issues. Would you care to share your thoughts or concerns on the current climate of our country?

AH: I think the climate is a little unbalanced, almost a desperate time for a lot of things we all are fighting for individuality and justice as a collective – and no one is really hearing the people who have a need. The takers are still in control. It’s a heavy time right now, but there’s still time to smile.

UT: You can be spotted at any given time navigating through Charlotte – how have you maintained such a humbleness about yourself with all of your successes?

AH: All the blessings…I know my fans are here to just love on me

UT: How do you feel being dubbed as an “artist’s artist?

AH: That lets me know that my peers respect me and what I’m doing.

UT: You just wrapped a show for the mamas at Barclay Arena with Tyrese, Brandy (who was just in town this weekend) and now you have something for the papas coming up with Tamar Braxton – tell me what fans can expect at this show.

AH: We’re celebrating the fathers who don’t get recognition, I have to go out and champion the fathers -there are a lot of them that are out here taking care of their kids and you’ve got to give it up for them.

UT: How would you describe yourself in the studio, verses out of the studio?

AH: Inside, I have a deeper focus without being too serious, and outside, I’m relaxing and enjoying life. But I do the same in the studio as well, so it’s pretty balanced

UT: What is something, if anything- fans do not know about Anthony Hamilton?

AH: I love cooking, and furniture shopping…it’s an aphrodisiac… I’m big on interior design.

UT: I’m certain you are aware of local artists feeling a sense of “they can’t get on in Charlotte, or unless they leave Charlotte- as Mark Sparks advised you to do the same back in the early 90’s- would you advise the same to serious artists?

AH: Mark Sparks took me to New York- and I think now with more access to the music being in Charlotte- it could happen. A lot of people in music have moved back: myself, Fantasia, Sunshine Anderson, Special Ed…. there are a lot of people living here that really do this for a living. It’s a matter of being exposed.

UT: Anything you’d like to add?

AH: I have a passion for producing other artists which I’m in the process of doing. I’d love to take The Hamiltones to the next level, and I have a Country artist as well.

Words aren’t enough to describe the magnitude of Anthony Hamilton’s persona, musical ability and talent into one article. He definitely deserves more of a novel to cover his accomplishments, work ethic and accolades on how he has changed the sound of R&B itself and turned Soul on its head. He’s given and shown respect to the amazing talents that has come before him and gives regard for new talents on the block.

Needless to say, our tyme Anthony Hamilton was well spent. His amazingly humble persona is evident from start to finish and it’s obvious why he’s adored by so many. The soul in Anthony’s music is a direct reflection of his character and it’s conveyed in all of his work. An artist’s artist, Anthony Hamilton is the Soul of the QC.