As fads come and go, it’s nice to know that some things never go out of style. Case in point: power-packed R&B as delivered by soulful singer/songwriter Avant.
The masterful crooner is back on point with his seventh album, Face the Music (Feb. 5, 2013). Inspired by the R&B legends—Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Luther Vandross and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds—who have been guiding lights in Avant’s career, the project marks the singer’s first release on the Capitol/EMI-distributed independent label Mo-B. But the set does more than just pay homage to R&B masters. Thanks to Avant’s inventiveness, Face the Music cooks up a tantalizing blend of contemporary and traditional sounds.
“It’s a taste of new school and old school,” explains Avant. “You might hear a piece of, say, Stevie Wonder or Babyface, then I spin right back around and offer up some new age R&B. It’s a well-rounded album with something for everyone. At the end of the day, Face the Music is about who we are and what we live by; it’s about respecting that as well as the music.”
Avant traveled to Chicago to record Face the Music, writing every song on the 12-track set. Production collaborators included Grammy Award-winning duo Tim & Bob (Boyz II Men, TLC, Bobby V), who contributed three songs, and the trio Monopoly. The latter is comprised of Avant, Dre Hen and Kajun. Kajun, a promising newcomer signed to the L.A. Reid Music Publishing Company, produced the Ludacris hit, “Sex Room.”
Like many R&B singers, Avant got his start singing in the church choir. After attending Cleveland School of the Arts, he became the first act signed to NBA legend Magic Johnson’s MCA-distributed label, Magic Johnson Music (MJM).
A versatile singer, Avant has recorded with a diverse range of artists, including Lil Wayne and contemporary jazz multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson. The latter pairing resulted in the top 15 R&B hit “Skies Wide Open.” Avant was also among a select group of singers chosen to pay homage to R&B legend Frankie Beverly on Silky Soul Music … An All-Star Tribute to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. He has even done some acting, appearing in the DVD release of playwright David E. Talbert’s “In the Nick of Tyme,” which also stars Morris Chesnut, Ellia English and Terry Dexter.
As he prepares for the release of Face the Music, Avant declares that despite more than 10 years in the game, he’s just getting started. “I got into the game knowing this is not a sprint but a marathon. And I didn’t get into it for the money. It’s still all about the chills … the music.”