BLACK MUSIC MONTH SPOTLIGHT: El DebargePublished by Justin Joseph on Monday, June 4, 2012 at 10:42 am.
When El DeBarge released 2010’s Second Chance, it marked his first project in 16 years—making it the comeback of all musical comebacks. The project yielded two hit singles (“Second Chance” and the Faith Evans assisted duet “Lay With You”), and garnered three Grammy Award nominations: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album.
It’s no secret that Debarge has had a very troubled past. After almost three decades in the music business—twenty plus years of which found El battling a serious crack cocaine addiction—the legendary R&B crooner, with the distinctive falsetto has proven that he is not completely out of the game.
There is no denying that the emotional complexities of Debarge make for a brilliant testament to the power of music. And although he has remained honest about his pain, fall, and redemption, there certainly remains a level of mystery and intrigue surrounding his life choices and decisions.
Born Eldra Patrick DeBarge, El grew to be the high note hitting balladeer, song writer and front man for the group DeBarge—alongside his siblings Bunny, Randy, James and Mark. As a group they released a string of 80s R&B hits turned classics: “I Like It,” “All This Love,” “Time Will Reveal,” and “Rhythm of The Night.” In 1986, El went solo and released four albums, and a few top ten hits—”Who’s Johnny,” “Love Always,” and “Real Love.”
In 2010, music writer L. Michael Gipson interviewed Debarge exclusively for CentricTV.com. Check out the excerpt below:
Q: Describe your connection to your fans.
A: I love my fans. I like being up close and personal with them, so I really like being on tour more than I like just being in the studio.
Q: Are you a spiritual person?
A: I have a close relationship with God. From the moment I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to get on my knees and pray. He’s everything to me. He’s my music. He’s my source of creativity. He’s my breath.
Q: What is the El DeBarge sound, and how has it changed and evolved over the years?
A: The El DeBarge sound is soulful, it’s joyful, it’s filled with intricate harmonies. It talks about life, it talks about love… it hasn’t changed, though. It’s the same.
Q: You’ve overcome a lot in the past few years. What would be your message to fans?
A: I lost a lot of time, I lost a lot of good friends, but I’m back, though there were some serious consequences. You don’t want to go down that road. You don’t need to experiment with drugs. Some people say that experience is the best teacher, but you don’t need to experience that. Just learn from my mistakes.
Q: You’ve said recently that self-denial was your first step toward drug abuse, and you lost touch with reality. What’s the best way of staying true to yourself?
A: Keep people around you that were in your joy period of life. That’s the most authentic period of your life, and that’s mostly your childhood and your teens, rather than your “good times” or “bad times,” and don’t ever lose that. Don’t succumb to the new “friendships” that just come out of nowhere. That’s not going to do it. That will get you in trouble right there.
Q: What brings joy to your life?
A: A good song makes me feel joyful. I like hearing chords and pretty melodies; I brighten up if I hear something that sounds good. Simple things like that – watching the sun come up, watching the sun set – and last, but definitely not least, a beautiful woman.
El Debarge was featured on Centric’s former music reality show, Inside, which followed El’s as he hits the road, and reconnected with fans and family following his stint in rehab. Check out the full video below:
ED NOTE: Centric is wishing El a very happy birthday!